This evening, I am focusing on a fascinating example of 18th century engineering, namely the Maryhill Lock Basin, Glasgow  at the western end of the Forth & Clyde Canal in Scotland.

The canal was incepted in 1768 and completed in 1790, a period which included an eight year hiatus when funding dried up. The canal runs for 35 miles from the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland to the River Clyde in the west. Navigation rights ceased in 1963 but were later restored when the canal was reopened in 2001. It is now mainly used by pleasure craft.

The architect/engineer in overall charge of the canal construction was John Smeaton. One of the supervising engineers on the project was  Robert Whitworth who was responsible for the Maryhill Locks, key features of which are:

  • A flight of five locks, from Lock 21 to Lock 25 entailing a drop of 12.2m.
  • Each lock has standard measurements of 22.6m x 6.1m.
  • Each lock is designed to hold enough water in the basis between it and the next lock to allow more than one vessel to use each lock at once thus optimising use of the facility.
  • Opening from the Locks Basin to Maryhill Road was constructed a small dry dock in 1790. This was known as Kelvin Dock ( as shown in video clip above) and is the Canal’s oldest boat building yard.
  • Robert Whitwort also worked on construction of the nearby Kelvin Viaduct which carries the canal over the Kelvin Valley.

This is a fascinating piece of early industrial history and engineering.