Monkland Canal

The Monkland Canal once ran for 12 miles (19 km) from Woodhall to Glasgow having been developed by entrepreneurial merchants to bring coal into the city from the mines of North Lanarkshire. The Glasgow terminus was at the Monkland Basin, close to Glasgow Cathedral. From there it was linked with Port Dundas and the Glasgow branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Work began under the direction of engineer James Watt (1736 - 1819) in 1770. By 1773 the money had run out and construction halted at Germiston and it took another seven years for work to begin again. The canal finally opened in 1793 having cost £120,000. In the first half of the 19th Century the Monkland Canal was the most profitable in Scotland and had a strategic role in the industrial development of Glasgow. In 1793, 50,000 tonnes of coal were transported using the canal, but by 1850 this had risen to one million tonnes. Between 1850 and 1887, barges were raised and lowered along a steam-driven inclined plane at Blackhill.

The Monkland Canal merged with the Forth & Clyde in 1867, when the Caledonian Railway Company took over both waterways. As the coal mines and iron-stone quarries around the canal became exhausted, so the decline continued. Commercial traffic ceased in 1935 and the canal was abandoned in the 1950s.

The canal continued only to supply water to the Forth and Clyde. Successive sections of the Monkland were filled in through until the 1960s, when the route of canal provided a useful corridor for the M8 motorway to enter the city. Ownership passed to the British Transport Commission on nationalisation in 1948, to British Waterways in 1963 and to Scottish Canals, an arm of the Scottish Government, in 2012. Today the canal is best preserved as a 1½-mile / 2.3-km section in Drumpellier Country Park to the west of Coatbridge, but the starting section (of similar length) also remains extant between Carnbroe and Calderbank.

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