About the Forth & Clyde Canal and Bowling Basin
The Forth & Clyde Canal was opened in 1790 to link the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Forth, and to provide a safe route for coasters during the war with France. Pleasure steamers used the canal from 1893 until the outbreak of World War II. The canal was closed in 1963 to facilitate road construction. With funding from a huge Millennium Lottery Fund grant, the Canal was reopened in 2001, all except for the easternmost length through Grangemouth, which was bypassed with a short link into the River Carron just west of the M9 motorway crossing. At Port Downie, a flight of eleven locks had linked the Canal to the Union Canal to Edinburgh but these were infilled in the 1930s. Replacing them is the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift, opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.
Bowling Basin is the western entrance to the Forth & Clyde Canal from the River Clyde. The Basin has a maritime feel to it, and the area has seen some recent investment to make it an interesting destination for a visit. There are two sea locks, and the Basin, once an important transhipment point now host a community of pleasure craft. Scottish Canals has a small office in the 18th century Customs House. The nearby village of Bowling was once a ship-building centre, had a nearby coal mine and was a thriving port for west coast trade.
[The photo shows boats in Bowling Basin – by Jonathan Mosse]