Monkland Canal

The Monkland's history is fascinating - the extraordinary industrialisation of the Lanarkshire hills driven by 18th-century Glasgow entrepreneurs. Find out how it fared as rail and road transport developed and what is left of it today.

The Monkland Canal is no longer available for navigation but is still a vital part of Scotland’s canal system. It provides the main water supply to the Forth & Clyde Canal and is locally important as an amenity for the community.

James Watt began cutting the Monkland Canal on 26 June 1770. For three years the workforce inched toward Glasgow until funding finally ran out. More money had to be raised in 1780 to continue with construction, and improvements were also carried out between 1790 and 1793. Locks were built at Blackhill and the canal was extended to the Forth & Clyde Canal at Port Dundas. The development of the iron industry in Coatbridge in the 1830s generated so much business that the growth of railways caused barely a blip in the canal’s profits – even the passenger services continued to thrive!

The Forth & Clyde Canal Company bought the Monkland Canal in 1846, and in 1867 these canals were in turn bought by the Caledonian Railway. Fierce competition for the iron business forced trade off the canals and on to the railways. Within 20 years traffic had halved and by the mid 1930s the canal was disused, finally being abandoned in 1950.

In the 1960s much of the canal was filled in, with the section from Townhead to Easterhouse being buried beneath the M8 motorway. However sections of the canal survive in water today and are prized as an amenity by local people as well as the local wildlife.