On Wednesday 26th August, 2015 a number of GAS members, together with a good crowd of local people, joined Carol Primrose, former GAS President, for a trip on the Forth and Clyde Canal as part of the 2015 Kirkintilloch Canal Festival. If, like me, you had never visited the Southbank Marina, Kirkintilloch, on the Canal, you were in for quite a surprise.
An old basin has been rebuilt and transformed into a smart facility which is home to a number of vessels as well as catering to visitors. It is surrounded by modern buildings including a new primary school, and pedestrian access to the other side of the canal is by an impressive modern covered footbridge.
The Southbank Marina
From this base the volunteers of the Forth and Clyde Canal Society had arranged to take passengers on their large, comfortable barge ‘Voyager’ on an evening trip along the canal between Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs, with an accompanying illustrated lecture ‘A waterway through history’ by Carol.
Leaving the basin
Carol’s talk took us from the Roman occupation and the building of the Antonine Wall, through the rise of the Stirling family from its Norman origins, the appearance of Cadder church, the coming of the canal, and into the mining era with the now almost vanished settlements of Mavis Valley and Lochfaulds, which she has been researching with other local historians. We also heard about the work of the Forth and Clyde Canal Society in bringing life back into the canal. Generous catering was provided by Smith’s Hotel.
This was an unusual and very peaceful way of seeing the countryside in this part of Dunbartonshire, gliding quietly through overhanging trees and catching sight of the ‘residents’ as dusk fell over the water.
The trip was part of an ambitious programme of events making up the Canal Festival, many of which focussed on the history of the area. Next year’s Festival will be something to look forward to.