Forth and Clyde Canal

Barges on the canal

Anne Alexander

Ah….well, I can well remember the Forth & Clyde canal and, at that time, at the time of the Blitz, there were barges going up and down from Bowling constantly and they were being pulled by big Clydesdales and I never was quite sure what was on the barges but there was certainly plenty of barge and horse traffic. And also alongside the... from the canal bridge at Erskine Ferry, there was a whole crowd of piggeries and that’s when the guys used to come around for the all the leaves and peelings and so on and that was fed to the pigs.

Puffers and the fishing smacks

Jim McCall

The puffer traffic taking the coal to Bowling and also in the summer months we’d get the fishermen coming through from the east and we would frequently help - that was great fun to open up the lock gates for them, to see the water flooding back into the lock. It was mainly puffers and the fishing smacks, as we called them. Other than that there wasn’t any tourist traffic. I do remember some barges – I do recollect the horse pulling a barge: horse drawn in the ‘fifties.

Dangerous canal

Steve Woods

It was just generally regarded as being dangerous. It was still a very active waterway, so it was deep in the wintertime, it could be particularly dangerous because of the formation of ice which often wasn’t thick or strong enough to support a child. So we were all intimidated by our parents not to go there. But in most cases it didn’t stop us, but I think we had a healthy respect for it.


Owen Sayers

The canal was a bit of a focus at that time because over the years it wasn’t uncommon for kids to fall in the canal. I remember probably two or three that were drowned in the canal and I can remember the crowds that were out on the canal banks and men diving in trying to see if they could find somebody who had been reported as having fallen in.

Swimming in the canal

Myra Mackenzie

The canal, the kids used to swim in, in the summer, you know, and you would see them all out swimming. But it was clean then, it was clean. But I could never swim but the kids all used to go down there and swim. Because I’d say “Where are they?” and their Dad would say “They’ll be in the canal swimming.” They thought that was the big swimming pool. And they used to dive off the bridge into the canal.

Derelict canal

Kenny MacKenzie

Towards the mid-1970s the canal was very, very derelict and I suppose the Millennium initiative really did breathe new life into it. But I quite clearly remember being at a photographic trip with my dad and not being able to follow the tow-path as it was completely overgrown. So that was early 1970s… you know the weeds, the brambles and the nettles had reclaimed everything.

Ferrydyke cottage

Jim McCall

The cottage (at Ferrydyke) was lived in. I don’t recollect those stables being used. But adjacent to the cottage there was a piggery. Gibby his name was, Gibby. He ran the piggery and he would come round and we would give him the scrapings, you know, from the veg and there was a bin that was set aside for the pigswill. And he would collect the scrapings and put it into his... not sure if it was a car... an old vehicle; and these bins would be full of all sorts of eggshells and... and then he’d boil it up and feed it to the pigs. But lots of people kept pigeons and hens – even in Roman Crescent. Lots of my friends would have pigeons – it was just as a hobby. And some people kept hens in the back garden. Obviously they fed the hens and then they would slaughter them.

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