Statement of Special Interest
This store dates from the construction of Cullochy regulating lock which commenced circa 1815 and was completed after the opening of the Caledonian Canal in 1822. The building has been little altered externally since the time of construction and it retains its simple vernacular character. The building was most likely erected to provide storage for materials and accommodation for horses during the construction period of the canal, and the chimney indicates it also provided shelter for the lock keeper. The building adds to the character of the Caledonian canal and is a crucial part of the infrastructure required to build the Caledonian Canal, which at the time of its construction was the largest canal in the United Kingdom.
The whole of the Caledonian Canal is a Scheduled Monument which identifies it as being of national importance to Scotland. For this section of the Caledonian Canal see Scheduled Monument Nos 6495, 5293 and 6496.
A number of single storey workshops and stores were built along the canal at various points to house materials and provide stabling for horses during the construction of the canal. These were situated not only at locks, but also at other strategic points where significant construction was taking place, including basins. A number of these buildings survive and their continued existence helps to better understand the construction process of the canal.
Cullochy lock was the last lock to be completed on the Caledonian canal. The lock is in an isolated position, located immediately north of Loch Oich, Work started on this part of the canal in 1815 however it was not until 1821 that a suitable rock foundation was found to construct this lock and durable granite, found nearby, was difficult to quarry as well as work (Cameron, p79). The lock was not finished until the canal was opened when freestone could be transported to it by boat.
The Caledonian Canal is one of five canals surviving in Scotland but is unique among them as being the only one entirely funded by public money. The canal was part of a wider infrastructure initiative across the Highlands to facilitate trade and the growth of industry and, most importantly for the Government, to tackle the emigration problem resulting from the Highland Clearances, by providing much-needed employment. The experienced engineer Thomas Telford submitted a report in 1802 to Government commissioners which detailed the route and size of the canal. The canal connects Inverness in the north to Corpach, near Fort William in the west, by linking four lochs: Loch Dochfur, Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. The total length of the canal is 60 miles, but only 22 miles are man-made.
Built to take sea-going ships, including the 32-gun and 44-gun frigates of the Royal Navy, the Caledonian Canal was designed on a much larger scale than other canals in Britain and the locks were the largest ever constructed at that time. This combined with the remoteness of the location and the variable ground conditions, make it a great feat of engineering and construction.
Telford was appointed principal engineer to the commission with William Jessop as consulting engineer. Although work began in 1804 rising costs and the scale of the project resulted in slow progress and the first complete journey was made on 23-24 October 1822. Whilst the canal was constructed for commercial use it was never a commercial success. Since its opening it was beset by problems and had to be closed for repairs and improvements in the 1840s. However the canal became popular with passenger steamers with tourism increasing following a visit by Queen Victoria on 16 September 1873.
Listed building record updated as part of the Scottish Canals estate review (2013-14).