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Former Canal Workshops and Smiddy, Clachnaharry Road, Caledonian Canal

A Category B Listed Building in Inverness West, Highland

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Latitude: 57.4889 / 57°29'20"N

Longitude: -4.2559 / 4°15'21"W

OS Eastings: 264869

OS Northings: 846544

OS Grid: NH648465

Mapcode National: GBR H8VX.Z4M

Mapcode Global: WH3FB.L1L7

Entry Name: Former Canal Workshops and Smiddy, Clachnaharry Road, Caledonian Canal

Listing Date: 22 December 1976

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 379722

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB35191

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Inverness

County: Highland

Town: Inverness

Electoral Ward: Inverness West

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

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Matthew Davidson, resident engineer, constructed circa 1810, and enlarged circa 1840-50. This is a group of single storey, roughly rectangular in plan and rubble-built, slate roofed industrial buildings comprising a former smiddy and workshops facing the Caledonian Canal, and dating from the early years of the construction of the canal.

WORKSHOPS: (NH 64869 46544) This is a long, roughly l-plan rectangular building with predominantly blocked window openings and a modern viewing tower added at the centre of canal-side elevation. A hinged door on rails and with curved ashlar jambs remains in situ. A small bellcote (a modern replica of an earlier 19th century bellcote) is located at the junction of return. There is an L plan lanterned ridge ventilator and a high-level loading door to the street elevation. The elevation to the courtyard is predominantly timber-boarded, and has been partly replaced by blockwork encasing cast iron columns with bell capitals to the interior. The fenestration to the courtyard elevation is predominantly made up of a variety of irregular timber casements.

Internally, there is a long workshop with kingpost roof trusses, including a later 3 ton Wharton travelling crane.

SMIDDY: (NH 64902 46519) This building is roughly rectangular in plan with a canted south end and entrance door, set adjacent to the workshop building and returning to the south east at Clachnaharry Road. There are 5 timber shuttered bays to the canal side elevation, and a lean-to extension and with gabled 'taking in' door to the loft at the north, with 2 modern windows to the street elevation and ridge ventilator visible to the south east. The external brick smiddy stacks have been removed and the slate roof to the north west appears modern. Inside the space is divided into two general areas; a disused smiddy currently used as a store and a modern office.

Two large hearths for forging are extant within the smiddy. The larger forge has a stone hearth, a stone and brick chimney, and a cast iron hood; the other has a stone chimney, a cast iron hearth and hood with the maker 'Keith Blackman Ltd, London' cast onto it. Two anvil blocks of different heights are located between the forges. There are two work benches against the north east wall and the internal walls are covered in wooden battens with hooks to hold blacksmiths tools, removed for safe storage. Large timber boards partially cover the forge area floor.

There is a floored attic space accessed via a stair from the forge area and there are timber windows throughout.

The interiors of both buildings were visited in 2013 and are relatively unaltered with whitewashed rubble walls. The former smithy is disused and the workshops are in use by joiners (2013). Some alterations and upgrading to the workshop buildings occurred in 2004.

Statement of Interest

This group of buildings is a relatively intact and unaltered group of industrial buildings associated with the original construction and subsequent repair of the Caledonian Canal. The former smithy and workshops are on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map and are likely to date from the original building of the canal. All the buildings are externally little altered and the original roofline and lack of any additions or extensions is rare in small industrial buildings of this date. Clachnaharry in the east and Corpach in the west were the headquarters from which the canal works were conducted. These workshops were essential hubs for transporting construction materials from the carpenters and blacksmiths inland along the canal. The importance of these buildings through their connection to the early years of canal construction adds interest.

The buildings are situated immediately on the canal side, wedged in between Clachnaharry lock and Clachnaharry road. This proximity to the canal and other associated buildings emphasises the relationship between the group and the canal and this context is still clearly defined. Internally, both buildings retain an open single space and bare walls which conveys their industrial nature.

A number of single storey workshops, stables and stores were built along the canal at various points to house materials and provide stabling for horses during the construction of the canal. These were situated not only at locks, but also at other strategic points where significant construction was taking place, including basins. A number of these buildings survive and their continued existence helps to better understand the construction process of the canal. As simple, single storey rubble buildings, they also add to the character of the Caledonian canal.

The whole of the Caledonian Canal is a Scheduled Monument which identifies it as being of national importance to Scotland. For this section of the Caledonian Canal see Scheduled Monument No 5292.

The Caledonian Canal is one of five canals surviving in Scotland but is unique among them as being the only one entirely funded by public money. The canal was part of a wider infrastructure initiative across the Highlands to facilitate trade and the growth of industry and, most importantly for the Government, to tackle the emigration problem resulting from the Highland Clearances, by providing much-needed employment. The experienced engineer Thomas Telford submitted a report in 1802 to Government commissioners which detailed the route and size of the canal. The canal connects Inverness in the north to Corpach, near Fort William in the west, by linking four lochs: Loch Dochfur, Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. The total length of the canal is 60 miles, but only 22 miles are man-made.

Built to take sea-going ships, including the 32-gun and 44-gun frigates of the Royal Navy, the Caledonian Canal was designed on a much larger scale than other canals in Britain and the locks were the largest ever constructed at that time. This combined with the remoteness of the location and the variable ground conditions, make it a great feat of engineering and construction.

Telford was appointed principal engineer to the commission with William Jessop as consulting engineer. Although work began in 1804 rising costs and the scale of the project resulted in slow progress and the first complete journey was made on 23-24 October 1822. Whilst the Canal was constructed for commercial use it was never a commercial success. Since its opening it was beset by problems and had to be closed for repairs and improvements in the 1840s. However the canal became popular with passenger steamers with tourism increasing following a visit by Queen Victoria on 16 September 1873.

List description updated as part of the Scottish Canals estate review (2013-14).

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