Statement of Special Interest
The former lock keepers' cottages at Bowling were designed by the distinguished Glasgow architect practice's of John Burnet, Son and Campbell and were built in 1896 on the Forth and Clyde canal, the oldest and longest canal in Scotland. Situated on the north side of the canal, they are the only Arts and Crafts lock keepers houses on the canal and were built for the Caledonian Railway Company, which owned the canal at the time. The houses are notable for having some fine Arts and Crafts decorative detailing and they form part of an important group of structures at the western entrance to the canal which includes the locks, the former customs house and the nearby bothy (all separately listed). This retention of their original context emphasises their association with the canal and is an important part of their interest. The houses also represent a time when the canal was developing due to the growth of the railway.
The canal, the tow path, and a number of other associated structures are a Scheduled Monument. See Scheduled Monument No 6779 for full details.
The Arts and Crafts movement was a popular style for houses in the late 19th and early 20th century and a number of features from the period can be seen on these houses, including the contrasting white harl and red margins, the asymmetry, the variety of windows and the prominent chimney stacks. Lock keepers cottages were usually single storey houses with little ornamentation and the level of decoration on these is unusual and notable.
The houses first appear on the 2nd Edition Map of 1896 and were built to provide accommodation for the lock keepers to look after the locks at this second basin at the entrance to the canal, constructed in the 1890s. The primary role of a lock keeper was to maintain and operate the locks and the accommodation provided was always close to the locks they were responsible for. Originally there was one basin at the entrance to the Bowling Harbour, and the lock keepers house was located near here. This is now the Customs House and is listed at category B. In the 1890s, the Dumbarton and Lanarkshire Railway extended their railway to the south over the canal and the canal was lightly re-aligned to accommodate this. Further locks were built and a second, inner basin built. These houses were built at this time.
Bowling is the Western entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal and it became a focal point for both national and international trade after the canal was constructed.
The Forth and Clyde Canal is the oldest and the longest canal in Scotland completed in 1790. The idea to link the east and west coasts of Scotland by a waterway was to avoid the difficult sea trade route around the north coast and was first considered in the reign of Charles II (1660-85). Surveys were carried out in 1726, 1762 and then in 1763-4 by Yorkshire engineer John Smeaton (1724-1792) who proceeded to design and oversee its first stage of construction. First called the Great Canal it was an impressive feat of engineering at 38.75 miles long and rising to 156 feet above sea level near the centre through 20 locks to the east side and 19 to the west.
The building of the canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1768 with an estimated cost of £150,000. Construction began under Smeaton at the east coast in June 1768 but financial difficulties by 1775 meant that it stalled at the east side of Glasgow. Robert Mackell took over as the principal on-site engineer in 1777 but work stalled again and was not resumed until 1785 when a government grant of £50,000 allowed work to continue under Robert Whitworth (1734-1799). Whitworth was an experienced canal engineer from England who managed the project until completion when it opened to trade in July 1790. In 1791 the 3 mile branch link into central Glasgow at Port Dundas was opened.
The water for the canal was provided to the highest point by the Townhead Reservoir near Kilsyth and later by the Monkland Canal. As the canal was designed to link the two coasts it had to carry seagoing vessels. As a result of this it was relatively large at 2.4 metres deep and 19.2 metres wide in most places, and all the bridges were designed to clear the waterway to allow boat's masts to pass through. The bridges were first built as timber 'drawbridge' designs but by the 19th century these had been replaced by timber and cast-iron 'bascule bridges' which worked like a drawbridge and were lifted by hand-operated gearing. The major engineering projects were the aqueducts; the single-arched Kirkintilloch example by Smeaton of 1772, and the four-arched Kelvin viaduct by Whitworth of 1787-9. The latter was the largest engineering work of its kind in Britain when built.
The canal became an integral element in the industrial landscape in Scotland with the most popular cargo being coal from the ever developing mining industry in the central belt. The Canal Company allowed beneficial rates for the transport of coal for the collieries through whose land the canal was built however transport costs for other materials such as grain were charged higher and therefore more profitable. Manufacturing centres also rose up around the canal to service it and subsequently communities grew alongside the Canal in the early 19th century.
There was a significant drop in income for the canals from 1840 onwards with the introduction of the railways. The Canal had other subsidiary business interests which continued after its usage declined such as providing waste water to local industries and even to the railways who had become their main competitors in the later 19th century. A subsequent Act of Parliament in 1867 authorised the sale of the Forth and Clyde and the Monkland Canal to the Caledonian Railway, who ran both transport systems until the railway became more profitable and the canals less used.
The Forth and Clyde canal was closed in 1963 due to lack of use and lay unused until 2002 when it was reopened following the 'Millennium Link Project', a major refurbishment scheme costing £84 million which required re-dredging the canal and raising the height of later road bridges. The project also reconnected the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals by designing the 'Falkirk Wheel' a major engineering project and the world's first and only rotating boat lift. The wheel was built to replace the 11 locks at Camelon, which were dismantled in 1933, by rotating the boats in paired gondolas to raise or lower them 35 metres. The canal is now used primarily by the leisure and tourist industry.
The building was designed by the architectural firm Burnet Son & Campbell. Between 1886-1897 John Archibald Campbell was a partner in John Burnet and John James Burnet's architectural practice John Burnet & Son. Sir John James Burnet and John Archibald Campbell both studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and at Jean Louis Pascal's Atelier. Their distinctive style is an assimilation of Scottish Renaissance with Beaux Arts and the practice was responsible for many renowned private and public commissions. These include the new Glasgow Athenaeum, Ewing Gilmour Institute, Alexandria and Baronald, Lanark (see separate listings).
Previously listed as 'Bowling, Upper Canal Basin, Lock Keeper's Houses'.
The Category changed from B to C, statutory address and listed building record updated as part of Scottish Canals estates review, (2013-14).