Forth & Clyde Canal bridge upgrades get underway

Engineering works to modernise and upgrade two lift bridges on the Forth & Clyde Canal got underway today (Monday 4th February), with the waterway due to reopen to boat traffic for the first time in over a year this spring.

The works, made possible thanks to £1.625 million additional funding from the Scottish Government, will see canal custodians Scottish Canals carry out extensive refurbishment works on the Twechar and Bonnybridge lift bridges in order to improve their safety, efficiency and reliability.

The bridges were previously closed to boat traffic in early 2018 when routine inspections raised concerns over the safety of their mechanisms. The commencement of the project follows weeks of preparatory and inspection work by the Scottish Canals engineering team.

The project will include designing and installing a new hydraulic system and lifting cylinders; installing a bridge deck levelling and monitoring system as well as maintenance access platforms; replacing electrical wiring; and installing new traffic barriers, lights, and an operator kiosk with CCTV system. The works, due to be complete by April 2019, will secure the future of the bridges for the next 20 to 30 years.

“Thanks to additional funding from the Scottish Government, we’re working hard to bring these bridges back into use and reopen the Forth & Clyde Canal in time for the boating season this spring.

“Scotland’s canals play a vital role in local communities and the nation as a whole, contributing to the marine economy; attracting tourists, visitor spend and investment; providing widespread health benefits; as well as stimulating job creation and business growth.

“While managing these 250-year-old assets is not without its challenges, we are committed to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and our partners to ensure the canals continue to deliver benefits for all the people of Scotland.”

Catherine Topley, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals

As well as the works at Bonnybridge and Twechar, Scottish Canals is also undertaking a wider programme of maintenance, improvements and repairs across the canal network. Projects include the replacement of lock gates on the Caledonian Canal and the installation of new water monitoring systems on the Crinan Canal.

Undertaken thanks to £5.35 million additional funding from the Scottish Government, the programme is informed by Scottish Canals’ Asset Management Strategy, which sets out how the organisation will manage, care for, and prioritise works on the infrastructure of the nation’s 250-year-old waterways between now and 2030.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “The Forth & Clyde Canal is enjoyed by many local communities and visitors and I welcome that works are now underway. The Scottish Government has provided close to £7m in additional funding to repair and upgrade these assets for boaters and other users along the Forth & Clyde Canal and to support Scottish Canals in maintaining other key sites across Scotland’s historic canal network.”

To ensure the decision making process is as transparent as possible, a new ‘Managing our Assets’ section has been created on the Scottish Canals website. The section features a downloadable version of the Asset Management Strategy as well as information about the projects Scottish Canals is prioritising and works that have been carried out to-date.

The hub can be viewed at

Notes to Editors

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for bridges, buildings, locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day.

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

For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter.

For further information, please contact:

Chris McDonald at Scottish Canals on 07917217608 or email

Josie Saunders at Scottish Canals on 07881816283 or email

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