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Latitude: 55.9385 / 55°56'18"N
Longitude: -4.1554 / 4°9'19"W
OS Eastings: 265462
OS Northings: 673815
OS Grid: NS654738
Mapcode National: GBR 13.YVVC
Mapcode Global: WH4PW.4ZHV
Entry Name: 126 Cowgate (Eagle Inn)
Listing Date: 12 May 2003
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 396787
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49196
Building Class: Cultural
County: East Dunbartonshire
Electoral Ward: Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar
Traditional County: Dunbartonshire
Early 19th century. 2-storey, 3-bay rectangular-plan former inn (servicing Forth & Clyde canal passenger transport trade); mid-20th century single-storey extension to rear on site of former stables. Painted ashlar to E; coursed squared stugged rubble to N, S and W. Wide base course; eaves course; stone cills; raised margins to side windows; strip quoins; droved rybats. Deep set Doric pilastered doorpiece. Canal milestone to S (damaged 2003).
E (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: symmetrical. Central pilastered doorpiece with 2 steps up to late 20th century door, blocked fanlight; flanked by large margin paned windows (enlarged). 3 1st floor windows.
N ELEVATION: ground floor window off-centre left. 2 small 1st floor windows to right of centre (inserted later). Single-storey bull-faced masonry clad extension with door and window adjoining to right (original doorway to former stable yard retained).
W (REAR) ELEVATION: advanced 4-bay rendered ground floor flat-roofed extension with door to far left and 3 windows to right. 3 evenly spaced 1st floor windows to main original building.
S ELEVATION: 3 unevenly spaced ground floor windows (2 to left inserted later); basement door to left leading to boiler room; single storey extension with window adjoins to left. 1st floor window to right. Canal milestone inscribed '19' (not seen at time of survey, 2003).
INTERIOR: altered to provide modern office accommodation; some original window surrounds.
Metal margin paned windows to principal elevation. 12-pane timber sash and case windows to original openings to sides and rear. Pitched roof; graded grey slates; straight ashlar skews; corniced ashlar gablehead stacks; octagonal clay cans.
Although a lesser example of late Georgian architecture mostly due to later alterations, this building is listed primarily for its historical association with the Forth & Clyde Canal and the development of canal passenger travel in the early to mid 19th century. Situated on a key site next to the former Townhead Bridge - formerly a bascule bridge, later culverted and finally replaced by the fixed Millennium Bridge - along the Forth & Clyde Canal, which first opened to boat and barge traffic from Grangemouth to Kirkintilloch in 1773. Kirkintilloch was therefore the first inland sea port in Scotland until the canal was gradually extended through to Port Dundas and completely opened from sea to sea at Bowling in 1790. Alexander (Sandy) Taylor operated a public house at the Townhead Bridge probably from the mid-1820s and was soon able to take advantage of its convenient location along the canal to service the growing canal economy. Passenger traffic on the Forth & Clyde began in a limited capacity in 1809, but increased dramatically by 1830 when a number of improvements were made, including the introduction of faster passenger boats known as "Swifts". By the 1840s the Eagle Inn (sometime referred to as the Queen Hotel) was the regular stopping place for travellers who would find refreshment and purchase tickets from Taylor, an authorised ticket agent of the Canal Company. Taylor was also an important contractor for the horses that drew the Swifts and passage boats and thus ran a stable at the rear of his Cowgate premises along Alexandra Street (formerly Kirk Road).
Also during the 1840s, Taylor operated a horse omnibus between Campsie and Garngaber (Lenzie) - a station
of the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway. The advent of the railway led to the decline in passenger traffic on the Forth & Clyde Canal but provided Alexander Taylor with the opportunity to take over the passenger service completely from the Canal Company, purchasing their remaining fast passenger boats in 1849. Taylor continued to expand his transport business and soon formed a partnership with Falkirk ship owner, John Taylor. In 1860, A & J Taylor introduced the faster steam screw-driven ship the "Rockvilla Castle" which operated from Port Dundas and Lock 16 (Falkirk). This boat was to be the last to operate a place-to-place all-year-round public passenger service on the canal, lasting until 1875 when the Rockvilla Castle passed to George Aitken. Under the Taylors and later Aitken, Kirkintilloch had been an important centre for canal travel and subsequently steamboat passenger service. The private papers of Alexander Taylor reveal 1847 as the latest date associating him with the property. There is no information of specific subsenquent owner up until 1873 when it was listed as a house and stable owned by James Gardner (coalmaster) and his family until 1891. Archibald Clark (carrier) owned the property from 1891 to 1928, but ran the Temperance Hotel from this building between 1917 and 1928.
The building became the town's post office from 1929 to 1970. Since this last date, the building has been in local authority ownership, occupied for most of the time as the Social Work offices (2003). On the SE corner of the outside of the building sits a milestone set against the wall, with the number '19' inscribed. This number represents the distance along the Forth & Clyde Canal to Grangemouth. Recently this milestone has been badly damaged by siteworks although it is still in situ (2003).
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