Friday, 27 February 2009


Iain and I, along with 4 others, paid a visit to Crinan Canal today to have a look at the work going on to repair the lock gate at the Crinan end of the canal. There had been a failure in the bond between a concrete cill and the floor of the lock causing the canal to be closed at several points during the summer while temporary repairs were undertaken.

They have contractors in now and are on the critical path to finish the repair by the end of next week. We were taken to see the construction site and were shown photos and drawings of the work in progress.

Closure of the canal due to difficulties is nothing new. The British Waterways archive states:
"A survey for a canal at Crinan was made as early as 1771, by James Watt. At that time, no money was available and nothing was done. The Crinan Canal Act was passed in 1793 following another survey the previous year by John Rennie who became the chief engineer. Actual construction did not begin until 1794 and was beset with difficulties. Funding subsequently ran out and Government loans and additional funds finally allowed the canal to be opened, in an unfinished state, in 1801. An embankment failure in 1805 caused the canal to be closed for nearly a year and when seventy feet of bank on the main reservior gave way in 1811 the canal closed for a further 18 months as there was no money to effect repairs. In 1812 the Commissioners for the Caledonian Canal asked their engineer, Thomas Telford, to survey the state of the canal and estimate costs of repairs. The canal was then reopened after repairs and kept open until 1816 when Telford procured a contractor, John Gibb, to undertake principal repairs and was reopened in 1817. An Act was passed in 1848 placing the Crinan Canal in the hands of the Commissioners of the Caledonian. The canal was to revert to the original proprietors once the public debt, with interest, had been paid. It never was."

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