Statement of Special Interest
Craigmarloch Stables is an example of the style of classical stable building designed in the early 19th century specifically for the Forth and Clyde Canal which is the oldest and longest canal in Scotland. The stables at Craigmarloch, which are roofless, are an integral and surviving part of this historic canal system. Hume describes them as the 'standard' stable design for the canal, other examples of which exist at Lambhill and Glasgow Bridge (see separate listings). There are a small number of stable blocks, constructed in the 1820s-30s along the length of the canal to coincide with the introduction of fast passenger boats (swifts), for which they provided fresh horses at regular intervals of around 6.5 to 7.5 kilometres. Each stable fulfilled the same function, providing a house for a stable keeper, stall accommodation for horses and a hay store above.
The stable network on the canal included a small number of nonstandard stable designs at Underwood, Wyndford and Lock 16 towards the east end of the canal which was built first. The 'standard' classical stables were built after the completion of the canal in 1790, in some instances superseding the earlier stable blocks, and in a similar style to the Forth and Clyde offices at Port Dundas (circa 1812, see separate listings).
The stables are located on raised ground adjacent to the canal feeder which runs south on an aqueduct over the Dullatur Bog to join the canal. During the construction of the canal in the late 18th century the bog became an engineering challenge when the engineering works and first newly built stables slid into the bog shortly after construction. The current stables were a replacement and built on higher, sound ground some distance from the canal.
The canal, feeder, and a number of other associated structures are a Scheduled Monument. See Scheduled Monument No 6766 for full details.
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 two most 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 until 1840 onwards when there was a significant drop in income for the canals 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 stables are within the boundaries of the Scheduled Ancient Monument but are excluded from the scheduling and within the Antonine Wall Buffer Zone.
Previously listed as 'Kilsyth, Forth and Clyde Canal, Craigmarloch Stables'. Currently roofless (2013). Listed building record updated and category changed from B to C as part of Scottish Canals Estate Review (2013-14).