Forth and Clyde Canal

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The Forth and Clyde Canal crosses Scotland, providing a route for sea-going vessels between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde at the narrowest part of the Scottish Lowlands. The canal is 35 miles (56 km) long and its eastern end is connected to the River Forth by a short stretch of the River Carron near Grangemouth. The highest section of the canal passes close to Kilsyth and is fed by an aqueduct which gathers water from (the purpose built) Birkenburn Reservoir in the Kilsyth Hills, stored in another purpose-built reservoir called Townhead near Banton, from where it feeds the canal via a feeder from the Shawend Burn near Craigmarloch. The canal continues past Twechar, through Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs to the Maryhill area north of Glasgow city centre. A branch to Port Dundas was built to secure the agreement and financial support of Glasgow merchants who feared losing business if the canal bypassed them completely. The western end of the canal connects to the River Clyde at Bowling.

In 1840, a short 0.5 mile (0.8 km) canal, the Forth and Cart Canal was built to link the Forth and Clyde canal, at Whitecrook, to the River Clyde, opposite the mouth of the River Cart.



It was designed by John Smeaton. Construction started in 1768 and after delays due to funding problems was completed in 1790. The geologist James Hutton became very involved in the canal between 1767 and 1774; he contributed his geological knowledge, made extended site inspections, and acted both as a shareholder and as a member of the management committee. The Union Canal was then constructed to link the eastern end of the canal to Edinburgh. Between 1789 and 1803 the canal was used for trials of William Symington's steamboats, culminating in the Charlotte Dundas, the "first practical steamboat". The canal subsequently became a major route for Clyde puffers, many of which were constructed at Bowling.

In 1842 an Act of Parliament was obtained authorising the Caledonian Railway to take over the Forth and Clyde Canal along with the Forth and Cart Canal; although this did not take effect until 1853.

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