Edinburgh & Glasgow

Canals That Never Were: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2021

Richard Dean provides further detail on schemes to connect Scotland’s two largest cities

In the Summer 2021 issue of NB, Jim Lonie set out the background to the building of the Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal. The interesting early proposals justify a more detailed look, based on the contemporary reports and maps. The principal aim of supplying Edinburgh with Lanarkshire coal would have been throttled on any of the surveyor’s southerly routes by the heavy lockage over the intervening summits, and John Rennie was sensible to opt for a northern route entirely on one level, despite the increased distance. By the time Robert Stevenson reviewed the proposals for Edinburgh Council, Lanarkshire coal was less important, and it is perhaps unfortunate that his logical scheme for a continuation of the Forth & Clyde summit level right through to Edinburgh was not pursued. Hugh Baird’s compromise, the Union Canal, involved 11 locks at Falkirk and four on the Forth & Clyde. To counter railway competition, in 1845 the F&C invoked a ghost of Stevenson’s…

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