Linking Edinburgh and Glasgow

Canals That Never Were: NarrowBoat, Summer 2021

Jim Lonie explores seven proposals to connect Scotland’s two biggest cities by canal

Edinburgh and Glasgow are linked by the Union and Forth & Clyde canals: the Union from Edinburgh to Falkirk and the Forth & Clyde from there to Glasgow. The two are joined at Falkirk, originally by 11 locks, and now by the Falkirk Wheel. This line, so familiar to boaters in Scotland today, might well have been very different as no fewer than six other routes were considered.Four lines Pressure for an Edinburgh-to-Glasgow link began after the opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal in 1790 and the Monkland Canal in 1793. The Forth & Clyde led to the growth of Grangemouth and fears that it could outstrip Leith as a port. The Monkland provided coal from Lanarkshire to Glasgow at a much lower price than coal could be brought to Edinburgh. The first thoughts were for a canal from Leith to Glasgow, passing through the Lanarkshire coalfields. Robert Whitworth and John Ainslie came up with four possible lines, known as Wilsontown, Lingore, Baton Moss and Badlormie respectively. …

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