Saturday, 28 November 2009

Union Canal

Every bridge on the Union Canal has a serial number which runs numerically from Bridge No 1, Edinburgh to Bridge No 62, Falkirk. A few of the bridges also have panels with emblems which represent facts about the canal. This monogram may be the initials of Henry Hopetoun (1812-31) a son of the 4th Earl of Hopetoun.
The government authorised the construction of the Union Canal in 1817 and appointed Hugh Baird (1770-1827) as the chief engineer. The main purpose of the canal was to provide an economical route for the transportation of coal and lime between Edinburgh and Glasgow via the Forth & Clyde Canal (1768-90). The 51km-long canal was opened in 1822 at a cost of £461,760, almost double the estimate, and it ran from Lock 16 at Camelon, Falkirk to Fountainbridge, Edinburgh. Except where the two canals are joined at Falkirk, the canal was built with no locks because it followed the contours of the hills. The Union Canal was closed in 1965, two years after the Forth & Clyde Canal, and the construction of new roads meant that it was impossible for boats to travel along the full length of these watercourses. However, the £84.5m Millennium Link project enabled both canals to reopen in 2002.

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