Canal custodians safeguard historic Linlithgow waterway

Scottish Canals is undertaking vital winter engineering works in Linlithgow, which will safeguard the rich heritage of this stretch of the Union Canal.

As part of a Scotland-wide programme of winter maintenance, the canal custodians are carrying out embankment improvements along the 200-year-old waterway. The improvements follow the detailed embankment surveys carried out by Scottish Canals in 2017, which saw the water level of the waterway drained down over a five kilometre stretch, and around 30,000 cubic metres of water drained from the canal.

These embankment works were identified as a priority for Scottish Canals, under their Asset Management Strategy. This strategy identifies where Scottish Canals’ limited resources will be directed, prioritising works that ensure the safety of the public and bring the widest possible benefits for all the people of Scotland. In Linlithgow, the canal body recognised the potential impact any failures would have on the town but also the need to safeguard the rich history and heritage of Linlithgow.

“Scotland’s canals are much-loved assets, and the 200-year-old Union Canal attracts more than 10 million visits each year – from boaters to joggers, cyclists to dog walkers. The waterways themselves are Scheduled Monuments and are an integral part of Scotland’s rich built heritage, as enjoyed here in historic Linlithgow. The works we’re undertaking will safeguard the canal’s engineering structures, ensuring our heritage is cared for into the next century and beyond.

“Scotland’s canals are also home to some of the nation’s top tourist attractions, including Linlithgow’s neighbour, The Falkirk Wheel. Our historic waterways play a vital role in our economy, driving regeneration and transformation in canalside communities.

“Our engineering team are currently identifying dates in the works programme for us to hold an open day, to let everyone see the work we’re carrying out and the scale of work that goes into caring for the incredible 18th century design and infrastructure of the Union Canal. We do apologise for any inconvenience that these works may cause to the local community, and hope the open day will demonstrate just why they are so important.”

George McBurnie, project manager at Scottish Canals

The winter programme involves two phases of vital works to strengthen the canal embankment. The first phase began earlier this month, and will run for 14 weeks, with 160m of sheet piling being installed along the canal near to Linlithgow Academy, next to Preston Road.

A signed towpath diversion is in place for pedestrians and cyclists during the phase one programme, which also includes Christmas and the New Year. This diversion follows Golfcourse Road, Braehead Terrace, Braehead Place, Braehead Road and Preston Road.

The canal is also closed to navigation, with dam structures in place at both Bridge 45 and Bridge 48 to enable a partial dewatering of the canal. In addition to strengthening the canal embankment, these works will also create four residential and four leisure/visitor moorings.

The second phase of improvements will begin on 14th January 2019, involving further sheet piling along the embankment at Manse Road East, and is anticipated to finish in the first half of April 2019.

More information on the project can be found at

For a look at the history of the Union Canal, see

Notes to Editors

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five Scottish canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. See or follow @ScottishCanals for more information
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas

The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year. See for more information

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