- The Forth and Clyde Canal
- Port Dundas: Glasgow`s inland port

The Scotland Guide
© David Williams


The Port Dundas terminus of the canal was established at One Hundred Acre Hill between 1786 and 1790 and was named after Sir Lawrence Dundas who had been governor of the Forth and Clyde Navigation Company. As well as becoming the canal`s main Glasgow terminus its construction also allowed a link to be made with the Monkland Canal and this gave it access to a large supply of water. The Monkland Canal (which was taken over by the Forth and Clyde Canal in 1846) was closed to commercial traffic in 1935 and its route was subsequently covered by the M8 motorway; however, the extra supply of water is still available to the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Port Dundas became Glasgow`s most important port until the River Clyde was deepened and industries such as engineering, distilling and chemicals were established in the district. This area was outside the city boundary when the canal arrived here but it was annexed by Glasgow in 1843 and it rapidly developed as an industrial centre. In 1849, James Pagan was impressed by what he saw and wrote that `on these few acres have been established factories, colour works, chemical works, dye works, grinding works, mills for logwood, dye and bread stuffs, foundries, machine shops, potteries and soap works - presenting a view of manufacturing and curious industry which must be unparalleled in any other city of the world.` One benefit of the site`s elevated position was that all the airborne pollution produced by these factories would have been blown away!

As well as carrying goods of various descriptions, the canal was also used for passenger services and the journey from here to Edinburgh would have been a lot less bumpier than by the stagecoach. In 1801 William Symington`s famous steamboat Charlotte Dundas (named after Lord Dundas` daughter) was introduced and in 1828 the Cyclops was used; unfortunately, both these boats` paddles produced substantial wakes which damaged the banks of the canal.

This article is based on the guidebook "The Glasgow Guide".

Port Dundas is now separated from the rest of the canal so no boats can access it from the canal system. These are the old wharves which were separated by wide waterways.

The twin-hulled Swift was brought into service in 1828 but this wooden boat was superseded by the iron-hulled Rapid, the design of which was much more suitable. By this time the journey along the canal was regarded as being on the `tourist trail` and an 1823 guidebook for passengers proclaimed the virtues of `the rural scenery and the lofty mountain grandeur which are so finely blended in those of the land between the Forth and Clyde`.

The number of passengers reached about 200,000 a year by the 1830s but the linking of Glasgow and Edinburgh by railway in 1842 dealt a great blow to passenger traffic. A number of services were maintained and later boats included pleasure steamers such as the Rockvilla Castle, the Fairy Queen (which could carry 200 passengers), the May Queen, the Fairy Queen II and the Gypsy Queen (which was a floating dance venue in the 1930s). Sadly, cruising effectively ended around the time of the Second World War.

Next Forth and Clyde Canal article:
Two hundred years of transportation
Previous Forth and Clyde Canal article:
Building the canal
List of Forth and Clyde Canal articles:
Forth and Clyde Canal articles

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