History - The Society
Following the closure of the Forth and Clyde Canal in January 1963, years of neglect and decay left the canal in an appalling state, much to the dismay of many people. The canal became a place not to be near, with parents warning children of danger and press and politicians pushing for it to be filled in. The canal needed some person or persons to revive its historical and picturesque past and to try to bring the canal back into use.
The Scottish Inland Waterways Association was formed in 1971, its aim, to promote both conservation and restoration of all Scottish canals and waterways. From this and other groups launching campaigns to relaunch the canals, people began to work to clean up and restore the canal system all over Scotland.
Working parties were formed and clean ups involving people from all walks of life, both young and old participated in clearing rubbish and litter from the canal channels. Boat trips and boat rallies followed and efforts made to raise funds to continue the battle to reopen a canal system which had been blocked at many points along its length. Eventually local plans were drawn up with Local Authority involvement and interest seemed to be growing.
In April 1980 the Forth and Clyde Canal Society was formed. The interest by Local authorities prompted some Scottish Inland Waterway Association members to begin to focus locally rather than nationally and the new Forth and Clyde Canal Society grew with support from canal side local communities. In conjunction with local bodies they ran boat events and barge trips as well as arranging clean up groups.
The Society worked to raise public awareness by attending and organising meetings and giving talks, whilst all the while lobbying those in authority. Gradually things began to change, with lock gates being repaired or replaced and environmental improvements and towpath repairs. More people began using the canal, both on the water as well as the towpaths and this encouraged British Waterways, the canals operating authority at that time, to bid for money from the National Lottery Millennium Commission to complete the restoration.
The Forth and Clyde Canal Society played a major role in ascertaining the public support for reopening the canal and obtained thousands of signatures from supporters which were then passed to British Waterways. This list of signatories was then given to the National Lottery Millennium Commission by British Waterways to help support their bid for finance. The bid succeeded and the restoration work continued. The founding aim of the Forth and Clyde Canal Society had been achieved, but we do not sit on our laurels.
Our current members continue to work to promote the Forth and Clyde Canal and to ensure its continued success. We use it to run boat trips, hold meetings and give talks on the canal and its history. We still keep an eye on the current canal authority, Scottish Canals, to see what they are doing to maintain, protect and promote the canal.
We care about the canal and want you to care too. Come and join us.