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Latitude: 55.8771 / 55°52'37"N
Longitude: -4.26 / 4°15'36"W
OS Eastings: 258708
OS Northings: 667196
OS Grid: NS587671
Mapcode National: GBR 0KD.JY
Mapcode Global: WH3P2.JJNV
Entry Name: Rockvilla, Former Canal Lock Keeper's House, Forth and Clyde Canal, 5 and 7 Applecross Street, Glasgow
Listing Date: 17 February 1992
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 377405
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB33609
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Canal
Traditional County: Lanarkshire
Probably circa 1790. Symmetrical 2-storey, 3-bay former canal manager's house set on raised site to the canal side of the former north terminus of the Forth and Clyde Canal. External brick stair accessing upper floor to rear, single storey lean to north gable and small attic windows to gable apexes. Harled and painted with moulded surrounds to windows, simple eaves course, stone skews and corniced shouldered stone stacks with plain cans. Corrugated sheet material roof, all windows and rear entrance infilled with blockwork or brick, structurally steel beam ties to front and rear elevations.
The interior was seen in 2013. Following fire damage in later 1990s the interior was stripped out to remove all internal walls and floors and the roof timbers were replaced with steel roof trusses. 3 structural I-beams ties for support.
Rockvilla House is sited to the north bank of the Old Canal Basin and makes a strong contribution to the history and canal setting of the site which was, until 1790, the north terminus of the Forth and Clyde, the oldest and longest canal in Scotland. The workshop range to the west (see separate listing) may have been constructed between 1782 and 86 and initially used as a base for a coach service from the canal basin to the centre of Glasgow before the canal link spur to Port Dundas was completed in 1790. The house probably dates to post 1790 when the site became marginalised following the completion of the canal link, at that point the site was reused as the canal maintenance works and became important industrial hub for the canal throughout the 19th century. The 1895 OS map shows the workshops extended as far again to the east with a secondary parallel range to the south (now demolished) which formed a 'street' to which Rockvilla House lay at the head in prime position. This former visual link has been broken by the late 20th century office block built between them.
1828 Map shows the buildings as 'Messer's Bairds Foundry'. The Baird family had a strong association to the canals as Hugh Baird was the designer of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal (1817-22) and may have lived in this house at the time.
The canal and a number of other associated structures are a Scheduled Monument. See Scheduled Monument No 6771 for full details.
The Forth and Clyde Canal is the oldest and the longest canal in Scotland completed in 1790. The idea to link the east and west coasts of Scotland by a waterway was to avoid the difficult sea trade route around the north coast and was first considered in the reign of Charles II (1660-85). Surveys were carried out in 1726, 1762 and then in 1763-4 by Yorkshire Engineer John Smeaton (1724-1792) who proceeded to design and oversee its first stage of construction. First called the Great Canal it was an impressive feat of engineering at 38.75 miles long and rising to 156 feet above sea level near the centre through 20 locks to the east side and 19 to the west.
The building of the canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1768 with an estimated cost of £150,000. Construction began under Smeaton at the east coast in June 1768 but financial difficulties by 1775 meant that it stalled at the east side of Glasgow. Robert Mackell took over as the principal on-site engineer in 1777 but work stalled again and was not resumed until 1785 when a government grant of £50,000 allowed work to continue under Robert Whitworth (1734-1799). Whitworth was an experienced canal engineer from England who managed the project until completion when it opened to trade in July 1790. In 1791 the 3 mile branch link into central Glasgow at Port Dundas was opened.
The water for the canal was provided to the highest point by the Townhead Reservoir near Kilsyth and later by the Monkland Canal. As the canal was designed to link the two coasts it had to carry seagoing vessels. As a result of this it was relatively large at 2.4 metres deep and 19.2 metres wide in most places, and all the bridges were designed to clear the waterway to allow boat's masts to pass through. The bridges were first built as timber 'drawbridge' designs but by the 19th century these had been replaced by timber and cast-iron 'bascule bridges' which worked like a drawbridge and were lifted by hand-operated gearing. The two most major engineering projects were the aqueducts; the single-arched Kirkintilloch example by Smeaton of 1772, and the four-arched Kelvin viaduct by Whitworth of 1787-9. The latter was the largest engineering work of its kind in Britain when built.
The canal became an integral element in the industrial landscape in Scotland however there was a significant drop in income for the canals from 1840 onwards with the introduction of the railways. The Canal had other subsidiary business interests which continued after its usage declined such as providing waste water to local industries and even to the railways who had become their main competitors in the later 19th century. A subsequent Act of Parliament in 1867 authorised the sale of the Forth and Clyde and the Monkland Canal to the Caledonian Railway, who ran both transport systems until the railway became more profitable and the canals less used.
The Forth and Clyde canal was closed in 1963 due to lack of use and lay unused until 2002 when it was reopened following the 'Millennium Link Project', a major refurbishment scheme costing £84 million which required re-dredging the canal and raising the height of later road bridges. The project also reconnected the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals by designing the 'Falkirk Wheel' a major engineering project and the world's first and only rotating boat lift. The wheel was built to replace the 11 locks at Camelon, which were dismantled in 1933, by rotating the boats in paired gondolas to raise or lower them 35 metres. The canal is now used primarily by the leisure and tourist industry.
Previously listed as '5 and 6 Applecross Street, Rockvilla House, Former Canal Lock Keeper's House'. List description updated as part of Scottish Canals Estate Review (2013-14).
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