Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

In recognition of the essential restrictions and measures imposed by the Scottish and UK Governments, we have closed all sites, depots and offices, including the HES Archives and Library, with immediate effect. Read our latest statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Forth And Clyde Canal, Bowling Harbour

Canal (18th Century), Harbour (19th Century)

Site Name Forth And Clyde Canal, Bowling Harbour

Classification Canal (18th Century), Harbour (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Bowling Harbour Ship Graveyard; River Clyde

Canmore ID 43393

Site Number NS47SW 64

NGR NS 4466 7358

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council West Dunbartonshire
  • Parish Old Kilpatrick (Dumbarton)
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Dumbarton
  • Former County Dunbartonshire



NS47SW 64.00 4466 7358

Bowling Harbour [NAT]

NS47SW 64.01 NS 4479 7361 Harbour Master's Office

NS47SW 64.02 NS 4487 7355 Lock Keeper's Hut

NS47SW 64.03 NS 4497 7353 Lock

NS47SW 64.04 NS 4499 7347 Forth and Clyde Canal, Original Entrance

NS47SW 64.05 NS c. 44710 73539 Beacon ('Harbour Light')

See also:

NS47SE 59.00 NS 45191 73548 Upper Basin (Canal Basin)

NS47SE 71 NS 45119 73550 Railway swing bridge and approach viaducts

NS47SE 72 NS 45090 73555 Custom House (Lower Basin)

NS47SE 82 Forth and Clyde Canal, Bowling to Kilbowie

NS47SE 113.00 NS 45032 73725 Canal House (Lower) Basin

For wrecks in the harbour ('Bowling Harbour ship graveyard'), see NS47SW 8001 and 8002.

Bowling Harbour: the western terminus of the Forth and Clyde Canal. There is a rectangular harbour with protecting breakwaters and a stone-built quay. The western part was used mainly for the laying up of vessels for repairs at Scott's shipyard, of pleasure steamers during the winter. The harbour was served by both the NBR [North British Railway] and the CR [Caledonian Railway, Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire] but rail connections are now lifted. The canal entrance basin is connected both to the open sea (River Clyde) and with the harbour by locks. The only buildings of note are the Custom's House (NS47SE 72, 2 storey X 3 window) and the harbour master's office [NS 47SW 64.01, NS 4479 7361] (1 storey, wooden, felt roof). There is also a small lock-keeper's hut [NS 47SW 64.02, NS 4496 7355]. Bollards [NS449 735] by A F and Company, 1905.

The upper basin is still in use as a yacht harbour, and at the time of visit, the lock at the E end (NS47SE 59.02, NS 4525 7352) still retained its balance beams. The lock-keeper's cottage (NS47SE 59.03, NS 4525 7354) is a very substantial building. The canal (NS47SE 82) was probably re-aligned here when the Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire Railway was constructed, as the walls of the basin and lock are of concrete, not the normal sandstone.

Visited and photographed by J R Hume, Department of Economic History, University of Strathclyde, 11 June 1966.

See MS/749 (Dunbartonshire, Old Kilpatrick/ Bowling parishes, Bowling Harbour), photographs with reporter, J R Hume.

The western part of the Dunbartonshire section of the Forth and Clyde Canal was built 1787-1790, engineer Robert Whitworth. There are two basins at Bowling, one dating from 1848 [NS47SE 113.00 at NS 4503 7352] and the other from the 1880s [NS47SE 59 at NS 4519 7354]. There is a railway swing bridge [NS47SE 71 at NS 4511 7354], a bascule bridge (NS47SE 58 at NS 4514 7355), a 2-storey customs house [NS47SE 72 at NS 4509 7355].

At Bowling there are two basins - one dating from 1848, the other from the 1880's, a railway swing bridge (1896), a two-storey custom house, and a basin for sea-going ships.

J R Hume 1976.

Following the closure of the canal in 1963 the lakes and basins at Bowling were maintained as part of a small section of working canal in order that fresh water moorings could be supplied for boats on the Clyde.

G Hutton 1993.

(NS 4479 7360 to 4546 7340). Part of Bowling harbour and length of Forth and Clyde Canal scheduled.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 22 April 1997.

Lindsay states that the construction of Bowling Harbour (NS47SW 64.00), and its adjoining lock (NS47SW 64.03) at NS 4497 7353, was authorised by an Act of August 1846, the work being completed by 1849. According to the Local and Personal Acts August 1846, found in The Advocates Library, the Act, passed on 18th August, was entitled 'An Act to enable the Company of Proprietors of the Forth and Clyde Navigation to extend and enlarge the basin at Bowling Bay, and to make and maintain certain other works in connection therewith, and to alter and amend the Acts relating to the said Navigation.'

Lindsay observes that there are two basins at Bowling, one of which dates from 1790 (NS47SE 113.00), being then extended between 1846 and 1849.

She later refers to the 1867 'Act for vesting in the Caledonian Railway Company the Undertaking of the Company of Proprietors of the Forth and Clyde Navigation', whereby the North British Railway Company's interests were safeguarded by various clauses, including the right to use the basins and quays at Bowling.

According to Lindsay, Whitworth, who became the Company's chief engineer in June 1785, heeded complaints by Highland drovers that their cattle refused to traverse the pivot bridges N of Falkirk and made the decision that all new bridges should be in the form of drawbridges having fixed railings on each side.

Information from RCAHMS (MD), 1 August 2000.

J Lindsay 1968.

Vertical air photography: FCC 7343/45/564-5, flown 9 June 1975.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 13 December 2000.

2001 photographic survey material is stored under 'Forth and Clyde Canal' in the NMRS.

(Undated) information in NMRS.


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions