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Lock Keeper's Bothy, Forth and Clyde Canal, Bowling Harbour, Bowling

A Category C Listed Building in Old Kilpatrick, West Dunbartonshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9299 / 55°55'47"N

Longitude: -4.4829 / 4°28'58"W

OS Eastings: 244978

OS Northings: 673543

OS Grid: NS449735

Mapcode National: GBR 0Q.ZDVG

Mapcode Global: WH3NS.36KX

Entry Name: Lock Keeper's Bothy, Forth and Clyde Canal, Bowling Harbour, Bowling

Listing Date: 19 June 2014

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 402327

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52226

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Old Kilpatrick

County: West Dunbartonshire

Electoral Ward: Dumbarton

Parish: Old Kilpatrick

Traditional County: Dunbartonshire

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Description

Probably late 19th century. Square plan, brick lock keeper's bothy with piended slate roof and stack to east. The bothy sits in a prominent position at the entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal. There is a later timber entrance porch to south. Rectangular window openings to east and west with 4-pane timber glazing pattern to east.

The interior was seen in 2013. There is a single space with some remains of a stone fire surround.

Statement of Interest

The later 19th century lock keeper's bothy at Bowling is a prominent structure at the western entrance of the Forth and Clyde Canal and is simply and effectively designed for its essential function of providing shelter and look out accommodation for the lock keeper. It is a significant addition to a group of canal related structures around the basins at Bowling and the retention of the original context is an important part of its interest. The bothy is little altered in its design, with the exception of an addition porch and its survival is of note, particularly as its original function no longer exists. There is one other similar listed bothy on the canal at Wyndford Lock, which is earlier in date.

The bothy is designed with two windows; one looking outward to the River Clyde to detect boats approaching the canal from the sea and the other looking east to the canal. These both survive and are important features which evidence of the bothy's function. The primary job of a lock keeper was to work and maintain the locks and also to maintain the relevant section of the canal. The bothy would have provided him with some warmth and heat during his watches on the canal, which may also have included night time watches. The original lock keeper's house at Bowling is listed and is to the east of the bothy and is now known as the Customs House.

The bothy does not appear until the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1898, although it is possible it may be of an earlier date, as it is in a similar design to the lock keepers bothy at Wyndford, which is on the 1st Edition Map of 1864. Both have windows on both sides and a fireplace inside.

Bowling is the Western entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal and it became a focal point for both national and international trade after the canal was constructed. There are two canal basins at the site, the first one to the west was built in the 1790s, where the bothy is situated and the upper basin was created in the 1890s. The site retains much of the original context of a canal entrance with the bothy, basins and lock keepers houses.

The canal, the tow path, and a number of other associated structures are a Scheduled Monument. See Scheduled Monument No 6779 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 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 with the most popular cargo being coal from the ever developing mining industry in the central belt. The Canal Company allowed beneficial rates for the transport of coal for the collieries through whose land the canal was built however transport costs for other materials such as grain were charged higher and therefore more profitable. Manufacturing centres also rose up around the canal to service it and subsequently communities grew alongside the Canal in the early 19th century.

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.

Listed as part of the Scottish Canals estate review (2013-14).

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