Circa 1840 with earlier fabric, rebuilt 1864-5, with early and mid-20th century additions and alterations. Large multi-phase former distillery complex to roughly triangular site adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal to the side of Lock 11 at Camelon including still house, malt house, tun room, chimney, malt store, maltings and other associated buildings.
Camelon Road frontage consists of range of 2 and 3-storey brick buildings, part rendered, incorporating 3-storey tun room (now 1-storey internally) with evidence of top floor louvred refrigeration room. 3 large wooden worm tubs in front of set-back still house with 3 stills (triple distillation), boiler room, still house and mash house. Tall circular section red brick chimney stack with top section rebuilt in brick in 1980s. Rendered and painted brick buildings facing to the west corner of the site. The buildings to the canalside incorporate 2 three-storey ranges of duty free warehouses with a gateway between. Range to the west is 8-bay, red brick former malt store, (with masonry ground to the floor from earlier construction) with piended slated roof. Central pend entrance to courtyard between it and the brick east range formed by a 10-bay section and further wide 4 bay canted section beyond of bonded warehouses. The warehouses to the east of the pend are 3 ranges wide with piended valley and pitched roofs. Prominent pattras plates between floors. Bars to windows.
Painted brick ranges with stone cills and buff brick surrounds, stone to ground floor from earlier buildings. Piended slate roofs to maltings and mash house, sheet roofing elsewhere.
INTERIOR: The interior was seen in 2013. Some original interior machinery to main distillery buildings include 8 large barrel washbacks to tun room with various later modifications to interiors for 20th century distilling practices including some metal high level gantries and later brick infill structures throughout. 3 copper stills from 1962 lost to theft circa 2008. Single open plan spaces to each floor of warehouses and malt store with unusual construction of I-beam metal support columns with saddles supporting timber flitch beams, and plain round cast-iron columns to upper floors. Widely spaced floorboards throughout for ventilation, whitewashed walls, brick internal partitions and remnants of timber rails for trolley trucks.
Statement of Special Interest
Rosebank Distillery is an important surviving example of a Scottish Lowland whisky distillery complex with early fabric and a design form which makes a strong contribution to the prominent triangular site on which it sits adjacent to Lock 11 of the Forth and Clyde Canal. The design predates the more traditional Scottish pagoda distillery design of circa 1890 and its former functions are clearly readable by the worm tubs and tun room to the Camelon Road elevation and the maltings to the canalside. The tall chimney and the remaining interior distilling elements are rare survivals within the building type. The setting of the distillery adjacent to the canalside forms an important historic industrial grouping demonstrating the industrial infrastructure of the area and the importance the canal had in supporting trade and industry in central Scotland in the 19th century.
Rosebank Distillery was almost unique in practising triple distilling with its three worm tubs, one wash still and two spirit stills and was well known as a premier Lowland malt whisky. The interest of the remaining interior fittings adds considerably to its interest as a historical record of the almost unique practice of triple distilling in Scotland (the only other distillery using this method was Auchentoshan). It is one of three surviving original Lowland Malt Whisky distilleries (others are Glenkinchie, Bladnoch), which all used water from Carron Valley Reservoir.
The canal and a number of other associated structures are a Scheduled Monument. See Scheduled Monument No 6768 for full details.
The distillery was founded as Camelon Distillery in 1817 by James Robertson under the Small Stills Act of 1816 and lay to the other (north) side of the Forth and Clyde canal. James Rankine converted the maltings of the Camelon distillery to the main distillery and renamed it Rosebank in circa 1840, and then from 1864-6 his son, R W Rankine, rebuilt and expanded the distillery to the south of the canal on the triangular site dictated by the confluence of the ancient road from Falkirk to Stirling and the canal. At this point the original main buildings of the Camelon Distillery on the north side of the canal were demolished and replaced with new round ended maltings (converted to restaurant circa 1990). The canal provided a route for daily shipments to Glasgow, but also supplied water for a small water wheel at the maltings. The two sets of buildings were connected with a bridge over the canal and the site as a whole covered 3 acres.
In 1894 the distillery became a limited company as Rosebank Distillery Ltd which subsequently merged with Scottish Malt Distillers in 1914. In 1898 Rosebank's profitability was affected by the collapse of Pettison Brothers, a Leith based blending company, however the business rallied and by World War II it was one of the few distilleries to remain in production, continuing until 1993 when it was closed by owners Diageo and the site sold to Scottish Canals.
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 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.
Listed building record updated as part of Scottish Canals estates review, (2013-14).