Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal

(Glasgow, Paisley and Ardrossan Canal)

Little remains of the Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal, (originally named the Glasgow, Paisley and Ardrossan Canal) which extended for 11 miles (17 km) from Johnstone to Port Eglinton. Neither the Johnstone or Port Eglinton basins still exist; the former lay next to Canal Road, just northwest of Johnstone railway station while the latter lay close to Eglinton Street, a half-mile (1 km) south of Glasgow Bridge.

Opened in 1810, the canal was promoted and partially funded by Hugh Montgomerie of Coilsfield, the 12th Earl of Eglinton (1739 - 1819), and cost some £130,000 to build. Engineers John Rennie (1761 - 1821) and Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834) were involved in planning the canal, and John Ainslie (1745 - 1821) surveyed the route. Originally designed to reach the Ayrshire coast at Ardrossan, it was only built as far as Johnstone before funds ran out. This was a contour canal, which meant it was entirely level and needed no locks.

The canal transported a range of raw materials and finished good, such as coal, ironstone, bricks, slates timber, grain and textiles. Passenger traffic was also significant and novel express passenger boats were brought into service in 1830, pulled by six horses. This service carried up to 400,000 passengers each year and continued until the opening of the railways. Some years earlier, in 1810, the Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal was the scene of Britain's worst canal boat disaster, when a craft carrying day-trippers overturned killing 84 people.

The canal was taken over by the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company in 1869 and was eventually closed by Act of Parliament in 1881. In that year a railway track was laid along the section between Glasgow and Paisley, now known as the Paisley Canal Line, linking Glasgow Central to Paisley Canal Railway Station. The Blackhall Aqueduct survives as a railway bridge, but it is in the environs of the Ferguslie Thread Works in Paisley that the canal is best preserved.

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