The largest restoration at that time, the Lottery funded
initiative reconnected east and west coasts, Edinburgh and Glasgow,
through the two lowland canals, the Forth & Clyde and Union, and
created the world's only rotating boat lift, The Falkirk
The Forth & Clyde 10 flotilla features boats of all style
and size, from traditional barges, steam launches and replica
puffers through to motorboats and caraboats (combining caravan and
Today, three of the small steam launches made a
symbolic journey from the current terminus of the canal,
Speirs Wharf, into the original terminus, Port Dundas, the city
centre docks which were a major catalyst in the industrial
development of Glasgow when the canal was built two hundred years
The Forth & Clyde 10 flotilla will make a celebratory
journey along the Forth & Clyde Canal this weekend, leaving
Speirs Wharf at 9:30am on Saturday (24th), stopping at
Kirkintilloch and Auchinstarry Marina, near Kilsyth,
arriving at The Falkirk Wheel on Sunday (25th)
Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport and Housing, and Lord
Smith of Kelvin will perform the official send off on Saturday.
The oldest boat in the flotilla, Hetleven, a large Dutch barge,
is over 100 years old and the beautiful Ratho Princess was built in
1923. One of the small steam boats, Aurora, harks back to 1910.
The Forth & Clyde Canal
Society's own fleet features Voyager, Gipsy Princess, Janet
Telford and the Maryhill, a replica Puffer which will lead the
flotilla when it sets sail from Speirs Wharf.
Keith Brown, Minister for Transport & Housing
"It is wonderfully fitting that the final connection of the
Glasgow branch of the Forth & Clyde to its original terminus
should be announced as this historic flotilla gathers to celebrate
the value of the reopened canal a decade on.
"It is also fitting that so many of the boaters involved in the
flotilla were those who fought so hard to see the canal reopened
and who have wanted to see the final connection to Port Dundas
made. Their enthusiasm and efforts to engage people with the canals
and drive their success and use is still as strong as ever."
Guthrie Hutton, President of the Forth & Clyde Canal
"Many of the boaters in the flotilla here today campaigned so
hard for the waterways to be reopened a decade ago and this
tremendous spectacle today proves their ongoing passion and
commitment to increasing their vibrancy and value for local
"The 'breakthrough' to Port Dundas today is the beginning
of reuniting the canal with the city and it will be of
great benefit to the ongoing Glasgow Canal
"In the meantime, Forth & Clyde 10 is a wonderful
celebration of the major achievements of the canal societies over
the past decades."
Steve Dunlop, Director, British Waterways Scotland,
"This is a great day for the Forth & Clyde Canal. It is
wonderful to see this spectacular flotilla gathering and to be
able to mark the tenth anniversary occasion with the symbolic
breakthrough to Port Dundas, a milestone which many of the
boaters in the flotilla have wanted to see achieved for so
"Whilst it will be some time before it is a fully operational
part of the canal, the breakthrough today signals that the
start of our long-term plans to regenerate and
use the waterspace around this area of the canal can now
"The Forth & Clyde 10 celebrations testify to the
continued commitment and enthusiasm of all the canal societies,
waterside charities and social enterprises engaging people with the
waterways on a daily basis.
"We cannot celebrate ten years of success however, without also
acknowledging the continued support of the Scottish Government and
our many partners including the local authorities along the Forth
& Clyde Canal. In particular, we are grateful to Glasgow City Council for enabling
us to make this meaningful breakthrough today."
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City
"The reopening and rebirth of the Forth and Clyde Canal over the
past decade is another symbol of Glasgow's regeneration. Much
work has taken place over the past ten years to transform both the
canal and the areas along its route, and this has borne fruit in
projects such as the cultural quarter at Speirs Wharf and new
housing being built at Maryhill Locks. We can all look
forward to many more innovative developments taking place along the
canal in the future."
The Forth & Clyde 10 flotilla features boats from many
of the canal societies, charities and social enterprises which work
tirelessly to promote the canal engaging an estimated 40,000 adults
and children each year through wildlife and heritage boat trips,
water safety and confidence building activities.
The event was organised by the Lowland Canals Volunteer
Group with support from British Waterways Scotland.
Participants include the Forth &
Clyde Canal Society, Bridge 19-40
Canal Society, Re-Union Canal Cruises, The Seagull Trust, Edinburgh
Canal Society and Linlithgow Union Canal
Society. The flotilla also includes a number of private boats,
some of which have made the journey from south of the border.
For further details about Forth & Clyde 10, the Lowland
Canals Volunteer Group or the Scottish canals, please visit www.scottishcanals.co.uk
Issued on Behalf of British
by Joanna Harrison. Mobile
History of the Forth &
- The Forth & Clyde was the world's first man-made sea-to-sea
ship canal. Much more recently, it was reborn through the largest
ever canal restoration project.
- The canal was built during the Scottish Enlightenment and it
remains one of the most enduring industrial works of this
- The objective driving construction of the canal was to increase
trade by joining the Firth of Clyde on the west coast to the Firth
of Forth on the east. Building a canal through the narrowest part
of Scotland would mean sea-going vessels could travel across
country without risking a passage through the Pentland Firth.
Construction began in 1768. The canal reached Stockingfield
Junction in 1775 and Hamilton Hill by 1777 and the final
connections between Stockingfield Junction through to Port Dundas
and Bowling were completed in 1790/91.
- The canal cost £8,500 to build.
- Unlike many industrial areas which have a single industry, the
canal resulted in the development of a diverse range including
smelting, rubber works, glass works, breweries, chemical
industries, boat-building, saw-milling and paint works.
- With access along the canal to Grangemouth, Port Dundas was in
effect an east coast port in a west coast city, drawing produce
from Scotland's east coast, England and northern Europe into the
- In the early 19th century, passenger boats also started to
appear amidst the heavy industrial traffic of the Forth & Clyde
- Passenger steamers took people on pleasure trips throughout the
19th and into the 20th centuries. Most famous amongst them were the
'queens'- the Fairy Queen, the May Queen and the Gypsy Queen. These
had tea rooms and space for dancing and took people along the canal
from 1893 until the second world war.
- Pinkston Power Station was built for the Glasgow trams and was
also situated on the island in the Port Dundas basins.
However, the importance of the 35 mile long Forth & Clyde
Canal diminished rapidly with the growth of the road and rail
networks which offered a faster and more cost effective method of
transporting goods and passengers. The Forth & Clyde Canal was
closed on Hogmanay 1962 and, over the years, the waterway was
blocked by numerous roads.
- In the late 1960s/early 1970s voluntary groups started to
campaign for the restoration of the Forth & Clyde Canal. In
1997, a grant of money from the National Lottery began the £83.5m
Millennium Link Project which was the largest canal restoration
project ever at that point.
- As a part of the Millennium Link Project, the canal was
dredged, cleaned and locks, bridges and towpaths were
renovated, culverts replaced. The world's only rotating
boatlift, The Falkirk Wheel, was built to
reconnect the Forth & Clyde and Union
- At the same time, the Forth & Clyde Canal was included in
the Schedule of Monuments and listed as being a monument of
national importance. The canal was reopened by His Majesty Prince
Charles in 2001.
- Today, the Forth & Clyde Canal is managed by British
Waterways, Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government.
Yachts, cruisers, narrowboats, holidaymakers, canal societies,
walkers, runners, cyclists can all be seen using and enjoying the
waterway. It's a vibrant place for leisure, heritage and wildlife
and the waterway benefits communities through which it runs
economically, socially and environmentally.