Historic Environment Scotland

Clark Contracts begins £6.1m transformation of David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre

Construction work is underway on the much anticipated £6.1 million Birthplace Project to transform The David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre into a world-class visitor attraction.

Clark Contracts has been appointed as the main contractor on the multi-million pound operation to restore and renovate the 11-hectare Station Road site which includes the iconic Shuttle Row mill-workers’ tenement where the legendary explorer and missionary was born and raised.

The Birthplace Project is jointly funded by The National Lottery through The Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.1m), the Scottish Government (£1.3m) and Historic Environment Scotland (£575,000).

The funding will see David Livingstone’s birthplace redeveloped to provide a vibrant new museum, setting Scotland in a global context and celebrating the inspirational story of how a poor millworker became one of the most popular British heroes of the Victorian era and a hero of some Sub Saharan African countries today.

The project will include the renewal of the historic buildings, a newly interpreted exhibition which will showcase artefacts from the Trust’s collection of 3000 objects and an upgrade of visitor facilities such as the café and shop.

Dr Isabel Bruce, chair of The David Livingstone Trust, said: “The Trust welcomes the appointment of Clark Contracts as main contractor and looks forward to work progressing swiftly on this important project to re-ignite the powerful story of David Livingstone for new generations and further strengthen the worldwide connections that Livingstone, his principles and legacy have inspired locally and globally.

“Once complete, the Centre will become a key resource for learning about his heritage and his far-reaching impact in science, health, exploration, faith and humanitarian endeavour.

“Visitors will travel from all corners of the globe to explore his story and we believe it will ensure that the impact of David Livingstone’s living legacy continues to be felt locally, nationally and internationally for future generations.”

Michael Scanlan, director, Clark Contracts, said: “Clark Contracts is delighted to be involved in this landmark project. We have a long track record on heritage and cultural projects and the Birthplace Project provides a great opportunity to continue our work in this sector.”

David Kirkwood, project director, David Livingstone Trust, added: “It’s extremely exciting to see the David Livingstone Birthplace Project take shape and we hope everyone will bear with us while we create a better and more enjoyable experience for all our visitors. During the construction phase we are working closely with the community to limit any disruption to our neighbours.

“Access to the buildings at the David Livingstone Centre will be restricted, however visitors will be able to continue to use the wider site for walks and leisure activities. An access map will be available soon on the David Livingstone Trust’s website and social media channels.”

Minister for Europe, migration and international development, Ben Macpherson, said: “David Livingstone is an iconic figure to many people in Scotland, in Africa and across the world. Much of his inspirational work was underpinned by the principles of global humanitarianism and solidarity.

“That is why the Scottish Government has aided the transformation of the historic building and surrounding grounds that bear his name, with £1.375m funding.  Once refurbished, the David Livingstone Centre will be a fitting venue to celebrate the important legacy of one of Scotland’s national heroes.”

Engine Shed celebrates successful first year

The Engine Shed team celebrate one year since Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre first opened

Scotland’s dedicated building conservation centre, The Engine Shed, celebrates its first birthday today after reaching key milestones in its first year, including welcoming over 15,000 visitors and winning a number of awards.

In addition to smashing its visitor target, Scotland’s national conservation hub engaged over 2,700 school pupils, offered 288 free space hire bookings to stakeholders across the sector and developed international partnerships with a range of key heritage organisations.

As a centre for traditional buildings, science and technology in Scotland, The Engine Shed’s reach has extended far beyond Scotland with expertise being sought-after across the globe. The Engine Shed, in partnership with the White House Historical Association, organised for a stonemason to carve a double rose replacement stone for the White House in Washington. To celebrate this, an exhibition on ‘Scots who built the White House’ will be held at the Engine Shed this autumn.

Recently, the Engine Shed partnered with the Forbidden City and Palace of Museum in Beijing to curate an exhibition at Stirling Caste on traditional skills which featured two replica Chinese terracotta warriors. The Engine Shed has also hosted senior government officials from China, Sweden, Norway and South Korea and delivered international conferences for the Association of Preservation Trust International (USA) and Stirling University.

Alongside generating international interest, the Engine Shed has secured its place as a firm Scottish attraction and will continue to develop innovative and fun family-friendly events and activities. This summer, the Engine Shed will run a series of free ‘Skills and Thrills’ workshops which will focus on traditional building skills including stonemasonry, surveying, timber engineering and brick construction. There will also be workshops on creating traditional buildings out of LEGO as well as designing a sports ground using 3D pens in celebration of the 2018 Special Olympics Anniversary Games. This autumn a digital festival will bring experts from across the world to share their knowledge and experience of new and emerging technologies.

The Engine Shed, run by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), serves as a central hub for building and conservation professionals and the general public. Recently, the Engine Shed was awarded ‘Best Building 2018’ and ‘Best Use of Stone’ at the Stirling Society of Architects Design Awards 2018 and was named one of Scotland’s best new buildings at the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Awards 2018.

Dr David Mitchell, director of conservation at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Scotland’s heritage assets are renowned across the world and we are dedicated to ensuring that Scotland is also recognised as the place which leads research and technological innovation in caring for these important cultural and economic assets. As well as being key assets for the future, traditional buildings are also able to deliver innovation in areas not normally associated with heritage and culture. We see this as a key area for continued development.

“The Engine Shed building itself showcases how traditional skills and materials continue to be relevant – Scottish materials are high quality, sustainable and ethically sourced – we can learn much from the past to inform the future.

“The work of the Engine Shed focuses on combining tradition with technology and encouraging a new generation to think differently about heritage.”

The success of the Engine Shed has also been hailed across the sector.

John McKinney, manager at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors – Scotland, said: “The Engine Shed provides the essential hub to coordinate activities which promote traditional building skills and materials to a wide range of stakeholders across Scotland and beyond, and is a great example of how a traditional building can be adapted for modern use and show what an important role our existing buildings have in the future of Scotland.”

Esh Construction proud to see Engine Shed project shortlisted for RICS award

Esh Construction has spoken of its pride after seeing its pioneering work on Stirling’s new building conservation centre shortlisted for a prestigious award from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The Livingston-based construction company, part of Esh Group, completed the ambitious £5.3million Engine Shed project last year for Historic Environment Scotland.

Designed by Historic Environment Scotland architects, the innovative building was recognised by the RICS as ranking among the most innovative projects in Scotland with the greatest impact on local communities.

Esh Construction transformed the former MOD munitions store into a world-leading education centre for building conservation, carefully integrating many sustainable design features throughout the process.

The Engine Shed combines traditional skills with cutting edge technology, using an augmented reality app alongside interactive handling boxes to help people explore their built heritage. Alongside this a range of technical courses offer CPD to professionals keen to enhance their conservation knowledge.

The company was pleased to hand over the completed building to Historic Environment Scotland last year prior to its official opening in June – and is now hoping it will receive further recognition from RICS a year on in the ‘Building Conservation’ category.

Esh Construction’s regional director for Scotland, Gerard McMahon, said: “We are very proud to have played a leading role in the re-birth of the historic Engine Shed, so it’s very gratifying for us that the project has now been singled out by the RICS from so many others that were identified across the country.

“The Engine Shed undoubtedly represents an exciting new chapter for the Scottish heritage sector and a world class architectural standout that we believe will serve to embody the important drive to maintain the country’s many traditional buildings.

“It’s a living, breathing tribute to the innovative, sustainable thinking that the project will engender, reinforcing the notion that modern science and technology can be shaped just as much by the past as the future.

“The integration of so many traditional and fresh ideas under one roof posed significant challenges for our team, but I’m pleased to say that we overcame them to everyone’s satisfaction.

“We hope that Historic Environment Scotland continues to maximise its vast potential as a true centre of learning.”

The original structure was sensitively adapted, demonstrating how traditional materials can be brought effectively into the 21st century, working side-by-side with modern technologies that have served to significantly enhance its energy efficiency.

These included 22 tonnes of salvaged stone sourced from the recently demolished Seaforth bridge, the re-use of 180 square metres of hardwood floor as wall cladding, 150 square metres of reclaimed oak boarding that now forms the Engine Shed’s new cutting edge lecture theatre, and efficient, durable zinc cladding for the roof.

Furthermore, 900 square metres of clay plaster were employed instead of a more traditional lime-based product, while 1,300 square metres of sheep’s wool insulation will help to conserve energy and naturally retain warmth that’s emitted from the building’s ground source heat pump and underfloor heating.

The RICS shortlist for its 2018 awards comprises 25 projects – chosen from 75 entries – ranging in value from £883,000 to £212m.

The winning schemes, expected to be announced at an Edinburgh awards dinner on 19 April, will be eligible for the National RICS Awards.

David Mitchell, director of conservation for Historic Environment Scotland, said: “The Engine Shed is a remarkable project which is fast becoming a remarkable centre for conservation excellence and education. The sustainable design and construction inherent to the building helps learners and visitors to see how modern techniques and salvaged materials can be ingeniously repurposed to help conservation efforts.

“We set out to think differently and to challenge perceptions with the Engine Shed. The hard work put in by our staff, our partners and our funders has meant that we have created a wonderful living classroom with science and technology at its core, demonstrating that innovation can be inspired by the past.

“We have also created a new home for some of our educators and scientists, giving the public a view as we work on cutting edge education and digital documentation programmes.”

MSPs and experts set up new Working Group to tackle quality of tenements

A new group formed in the wake of a Parliamentary debate on tenement maintenance has called for action to ensure the protection of Scotland’s historic and most common type of residence.

The first meeting of the Working Group on maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property highlighted the growing concerns over the current condition of tenement properties and called for the introduction of new initiatives and mechanisms for facilitating communal repairs by owners.

Convener of the new group, Ben Macpherson MSP, said: “This Working Group brings together a range of experts, academics, industry professionals and MSPs from different political parties. Together we will bring forward focused and robust proposals to better enhance and enable the maintenance of tenement communal property.

“Repairing and maintaining roofs, stairways and other communal property is essential in order to improve and sustain a huge amount of Scotland’s housing stock. We need new emphasis and ideas to help keep our tenements in good condition, and I’m confident that this Working Group will bring forward considered solutions to make a meaningful difference.”

According to the most recent Scottish House Condition Survey 2016 there are 566,000 tenement properties, equating to 23% of the total housing stock in Scotland. Pre-1919 built tenement properties are the second most commonly occupied property type in Scotland (behind post-1982 built detached property); and 5% of all pre-1919 built dwellings have “critical, urgent & extensive disrepair”.

To support the cross party Working Group, Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) invited stakeholders to submit a synopsis of the issues and solutions they think require parliamentary attention. Six organisations submitted suggestions and Historic Environment Scotland have shared information on the Traditional Building Health Check, a project arising from a previous BEFS campaign on building maintenance, piloted in Stirling.

Hew Edgar, RICS policy manager, said: “The establishment of this working group is an excellent start to tackling the issue of tenement maintenance. Building maintenance is key to sustaining and future proofing the fabric of our current housing stock – ensuring it provides adequate standards of quality now and for future generations.

“The deteriorating standard of Scotland’s current tenement housing stock is high on the agenda of stakeholders who operate within the built environment – particularly the historic arena – and it is a great step that all parliamentary parties, are recognising this.”

Historic Environment Scotland reveals management and investment plans for historic assets

A plan for the continued management, conservation and maintenance of more than 600 buildings and monuments across the length and breadth of Scotland has been launched today by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

The Asset Management Plan outlines the steps HES is taking to maintain not just the historic properties and structures in its care, but also the modern infrastructure such as car parks, visitor facing facilities, mechanical and electrical installations that are critical to its operations.

The Plan has four distinct objectives, linked through a prioritisation hierarchy which places conservation needs and visitor access requirements alongside statutory requirements and wider cultural impacts.

The plan outlines how HES will improve the condition of the properties in care – inside and out.

The objectives of the Plan are to:

  • Improve the condition of the assets and manage the infrastructure through conservation
  • Maintain a consistently high quality visitor experience
  • Understand and communicate the cultural significance of HES assets
  • Deliver wider economic, social and environmental benefits and opportunities through asset management in areas such as knowledge generation, community engagement, sustainability and innovation.

To monitor their diverse assets, HES has adopted cutting edge technology coupled with regular condition assessments. Measures range from the introduction of the HES System for Integrated Geoscience Mapping (SIGMA) to capture the condition of monuments to the development of the Properties in Care Asset Management System (PiCAMS), which will provide a single live digital system to link, manage and access data from sites provided by a wide variety of surveys and tools.

The Rae survey project, which seeks to provide accurate special survey data of 336 of Scotland’s most important monuments, is on-going and serves to provide a foundation for further digital analysis.

3D laser scanning at Blackness Castle as part of the Rae Project to digitally document 336 of Scotland’s most important monuments

Speaking at the Engine Shed, Scotland’s national conservation centre, at of the launch of the Asset Management Plan, Jane Ryder, chair of the Historic Environment Scotland Board, said: “Today marks a significant milestone for HES. I am pleased to unveil our first Asset Management Plan, as well as the accompanying Investment Plan.

“The plan provides a new strategic approach to how we manage our assets – over 300 properties including some of the country’s most iconic sites such as Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar and Maes Howe in Orkney, Edinburgh, Caerlaverock and Stirling Castles, to the magnificent Borders abbeys.”

HES Chair, Jane Ryder, launched the Asset Management Plan at the Engine Shed

The Asset Management Plan has been published alongside a £12 million Investment Plan, which sets out an investment programme which will enhance the condition of sites and improve the experience of visitors.

Overall, 20 sites across the Historic Environment Scotland estate are earmarked as priority under the Investment Plan. Projects planned include the ongoing enhancement to facilities and amenities at Edinburgh Castle; repair work on the main Spire at Glasgow Cathedral and an augmented reality app for Caerlavarock Castle allowing visitors to collect historical animations related to the castle and its adjacent nature trail.

The Investment Plan will see important conservation work continue at Dumbarton Castle

The visitor experience at Doune Castle in Perthshire – which doubles as the fictional Castle Leoch in the hit TV show Outlander – will also be enhanced thanks to new external lighting around the site and an introductory exhibition on its history, based in the castle vaults. The Castle’s shop was also upgraded last year to become a larger more customer friendly retail outlet.

Introducing the plans, HES chief executive, Alex Paterson, said: “These are ambitious plans which will set new standards for the care of our properties and provide world class visitor attractions with outstanding visitor experiences.

“We’re building on the success of recent years which have seen record numbers of visitors to many of Scotland’s historic sites.”

Research to map effects of climate change on Scotland’s coasts and monuments

St Andrews’ coast will be mapped as part of the project

The damage that climate change could cause to nearly one fifth of Scotland’s coastline as well as important infrastructure and monuments from and the steps that could be taken to mitigate it will be forecast in a new two year research project.

The next phase of DynamicCoast.com will use the latest monitoring techniques to map and categorise the resilience of the Scottish coast and identify the links between erosion and flooding.

The research, led by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage and carried out by the University of Glasgow, launches this month and is funded by CREW (Centre for Expertise in Water). It will focus on specific study sites including Montrose Bay, St Andrews and Skara Brae to forecast future change and erosional damage and also work with stakeholders like local authorities, SEPA and Historic Environment Scotland to develop plans to mitigate these effects.

Cabinet secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Rising sea levels, increased coastal erosion and flooding have caused substantial damage to our coastlines and communities over the last few decades and the pace of erosion is increasing. We need to take action now to adapt and adjust to these changes.

“This research will forecast the extent of damage that could be caused to our precious coastlines through the effects of climate change and will work with communities, local authorities, transport agencies and other planning bodies to develop plans to manage coastal change before it’s too late.”

Scottish Natural Heritage is managing DynamicCoast.com. Chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Scotland’s beaches and dunes play a vital role in protecting £13 billion-worth of buildings and roads. That is more than twice that currently protected by seawalls. By their dynamic nature, shifting sand dunes can replenish areas of shoreline; as such they are our natural defences. This ensures that our beaches and dunes can be a natural ally in combating the effects of climate change.

“And by working with nature at the coast, we can help ease and adapt to climate change impacts – in particular sea level rise and storms.

“We and our partners in Dynamic Coast are committed to forecasting future risks and highlight where we can help nature to help us build resilience to climate change and ensure existing and future development is secure.”

Dynamic Coast’s principal investigator, the University of Glasgow’s Professor Jim Hansom, added: “We are now facing decades of future sea level rise and increasing erosion and flooding at the coast, so we need to better understand the increased risk posed by climate change to coastal assets and communities.

“We need to know whether to adapt, defend or move those coastal assets as well as how social justice might be better incorporated into future policies. Failure to act now will lead to enhanced costs and impacts later.”

Plans approved to create Scotland’s answer to New York’s ‘High Line’

An artist’s impression of the proposed linear park – inspired by New York City’s High Line – that could soon grace the top of the revamped Bowling Harbour bridge at the gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal

An artist’s impression of the proposed linear park – inspired by New York City’s High Line – that could soon grace the top of the revamped Bowling Harbour bridge at the gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal

Ambitious plans to create a new linear park inspired by New York City’s High Line at the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal have taken another step forward with the granting of planning consent for the project.

Scottish Canals and its partners are currently fundraising for the development of the route, which will transform a 120-year-old disused railway bridge at Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire into a fully accessible linear park and pathway. This new route, the latest stage of a £3.2 million project to breathe new life into the area, will form a direct link between the Forth & Clyde Canal towpath and the National Cycle Network route towards Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

Helena Huws, design and development manager at Scottish Canals, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve been working with our partners and the local community to breathe new life into Bowling Harbour, investing more than £3.2m in the area. The transformation of the area’s iconic railway bridge into an innovative new parkway overlooking the canal and the River Clyde is the next step in that story and we’re delighted that the project has received planning consent.

“Our recent win at the Scottish Government’s Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning was a fantastic accolade for the masterplan we’ve helped shape with the local community. We look forward to building on that success to bring further investment, employment opportunities and vibrancy to Bowling.”

A 120-year-old swing bridge at Bowling Harbour - the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal - has been lovingly restored as part of the latest stage of a £3.2m transformation of the area

A 120-year-old swing bridge at Bowling Harbour – the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal – has been lovingly restored as part of the latest stage of a £3.2m transformation of the area

The community-led transformation of the area is being undertaken by Scottish Canals in partnership with West Dunbartonshire Council with support from the Coastal Communities Fund, Sustrans Scotland, and Historic Environment Scotland. Over the past three years, the project has refurbished the arches of the area’s decommissioned railway bridge, transforming them into commercial units and bringing new businesses, activity, vibrancy and economic benefits to the canalside community. The project was recently recognised at the Scottish Government’s Awards for Quality in Planning, taking home the prize for place-based regeneration.

Dave Keane, community links manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Scottish Canals for further regeneration in Bowling.

“The project has great potential to further attract people to the area, whilst connecting the corridor as a more direct and enjoyable traffic free route. We hope this will encourage people to walk and cycle for more of the journeys they make every day.”

Bowling Harbour’s viaduct swing bridge was constructed in 1896 to carry the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway over the Forth & Clyde Canal. After the railway was abandoned in 1960, the bridge fell into disrepair. Thanks to funding support from Sustrans and Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Canals has undertaken vital repairs to the structure’s badly corroded metalwork and repainted the entire span.

A short summary video of the transformation of Bowling Harbour so far and a look at its future

The masterplan for the area was shaped by the award-winning Bowling Basin Charrette – a collaborative design programme which saw the local community work with other stakeholders, agencies and industry experts to develop a shared plan for its future. The village is identified by West Dunbartonshire Council as a key regeneration and development priority.

Bowling, which sits on the northern bank of the Firth of Clyde and near the western terminus of the ancient Antonine Wall, was a major transport hub during the Industrial Revolution and was vital to the success of the River Clyde, the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway.

Amendments made to Union Terrace Gardens designs

Union Terrace Gardens_Rosemount ViaductLDA Design has submitted a raft of refinements to its Union Terrace Gardens proposals following feedback from the public.

The latest plans include a realignment of a proposed new walkway, linking Union Street to the Gardens, to reduce the potential impact on any future development of the adjacent railway line.

Steps have also been taken to provide further protection of the views and setting of the Robert Burns and Edward VII statues through redesign of the proposed buildings nearby.

The scheme refinements are in response to representations made about the detailed planning application submitted earlier this year. LDA Design has also been liaising with Historic Environment Scotland on developing the scheme.

Union Terrace Gardens_refinementsLDA Design, which is working alongside Stallan-Brand on the project, said its imaginative revamp of Aberdeen’s sunken Victorian Gardens respects the unique character and history of this heart-of-the-city space, whilst aiming to make it more social and more usable.

Director Kirstin Taylor, who is leading the project, said: “There’s so much beauty and charm in the Gardens. These amended plans get us even closer to capturing this and enhancing the existing heritage, enabling us to better balance traditional park enjoyment with new ideas and uses.

“We are working closely with all parties to make sure Union Terrace Gardens is a wonderful asset for the city for generations to come, a place where people belong.”

The amendment ensures the agreed six key design principles continue to be met: A preserved and enhanced green space; new and improved facilities; celebrating the heritage; creation of flexible events spaces; accessible Gardens for all; a safe and active space.
It is hoped that planning approval can be obtained as early as February.

Rural tourist sites to benefit from £6m infrastructure fund

The road to Kinlochewe on the North Coast 500. Image: VisitScotland

The road to Kinlochewe on the North Coast 500. Image: VisitScotland

The Scottish Government is to establish a fund to provide investment in infrastructure to support sustainable growth in rural tourism across Scotland.

The Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund – which will see £6 million invested over two years (2018/19 and 2019/20) – will help ensure the services and facilities tourists and communities need are provided.

Latest figures indicate notable increases in visitor numbers to rural tourism sites in certain areas, including:

  • The North Coast 500 route attracting an extra 29,000 visitors to the Highlands, with the area experiencing a 26% annual rise in visitors compared to a 6% increase across the rest of the region
  • The ‘Outlander effect’ on Historic Environment Scotland sites, with those featuring in the television series continuing to see large annual visitor increases – including 44% for Blackness Castle and a 42% rise at Doune Castle
  • The Isle of Skye continuing to grow in popularity, with Visit Scotland’s Portree centre seeing more than 150,000 tourist visits annually, increasing 5% year-on-year

The new fund will support a wide range of improvement projects – such as parking, camping facilities, recycling points and footpath access.

Expected to launch in early 2018, the fund will be administered by public sector partners working with local authorities, with input from communities and the industry to identify projects requiring support.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland’s islands and rural communities attract visitors from across the globe.

“The tourist boom that our country is enjoying is great news. It means more jobs and investment but it can also mean pressure on transport, services and facilities – especially in rural areas. The Scottish Government is determined to help.

“Our new £6m Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund will take bids from communities and work with local councils to support projects that enable even more people to enjoy Scotland, the most beautiful country in the world.”

New York-inspired High Line path planned as new Forth & Clyde Canal link

An artist’s impression of the proposed linear park – inspired by New York City’s High Line – that could soon grace the top of the revamped Bowling Harbour bridge at the gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal

An artist’s impression of the proposed linear park – inspired by New York City’s High Line – that could soon grace the top of the revamped Bowling Harbour bridge at the gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal

A new linear park inspired by New York City’s High Line could be set for the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal following the restoration of an iconic 120-year-old swing bridge at Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire, according to Scottish Canals.

Bowling Harbour’s viaduct swing bridge was constructed in 1896 to carry the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway over the Forth & Clyde Canal. After the railway was abandoned in 1960, the bridge fell into disrepair. Thanks to funding support from Sustrans and Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Canals has undertaken vital repairs to the structure’s badly corroded metalwork and repainted the entire span.

The latest stage of a £3.2 million transformation of the area, the completion of the bridge, together with the recent refurbishment of the bridge’s railway arches into commercial units, has ensured the structure will continue to play an important role in the area for years to come.

The transformational work at Bowling Harbour, undertaken in partnership with the local community, has brought new businesses, activity, vibrancy and economic benefits to the canal and celebrated Bowling’s important role in Scotland’s industrial past.

The 120-year-old swing bridge at Bowling Harbour - the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal - has been lovingly restored as part of the latest stage of a £3.2m transformation of the area

The 120-year-old swing bridge at Bowling Harbour – the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal – has been lovingly restored as part of the latest stage of a £3.2m transformation of the area

Helena Huws, design and development manager at Scottish Canals, said: “Over the past few years, we’ve been working with our partners and the local community to breathe new life into Bowling Harbour, investing more than £3.2m in the area. The restoration of the area’s iconic railway bridge to its former glory is the next step in that story and we’re delighted to see the project completed.

“Now we’re looking to deliver the next stages of the masterplan we’ve helped shape with the local community – bringing further investment, employment opportunities and vibrancy to Bowling, and developing a fantastic tourism and leisure destination fitting of the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal.”

Fundraising is now underway for the next stage of development of the viaduct structure – transforming the former railway line into a fully accessible linear park and pathway inspired by New York City’s iconic High Line. This new route will form a direct link between the Forth & Clyde Canal towpath and the National Cycle Network route towards Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Detailed proposals have been submitted for planning approval and feature new viewpoints which will offer visitors the chance to enjoy the vistas over the canal and River Clyde.

Tom Bishop, community links manager at Sustrans Scotland, said: “This is an exciting project to work in partnership with Scottish Canals for further regeneration in Bowling.

“It has great potential to further attract cyclists and visitors, whilst connecting the corridor as a more direct and enjoyable traffic free route. We hope this will encourage people to walk and cycle for more of the journeys they make every day.”

A short summary video of the transformation of Bowling Harbour so far and a look at its future

The masterplan for the area was shaped by the award-winning Bowling Basin Charrette – a collaborative design programme which saw the local community work with other stakeholders, agencies and industry experts to develop a shared plan for its future. The village is identified by West Dunbartonshire Council as a key regeneration and development priority.

Councillor Iain McLaren, West Dunbartonshire Council’s convener of infrastructure, regeneration & economic development, said: “The Bowling swing bridge is of real historical importance and it is wonderful to see it restored to its former glory as part of this ambitious project. The work already carried out Bowling Harbour has made it a destination well worth visiting and the plans for further regeneration of the area are extremely exciting.”

Bowling, which sits on the northern bank of the Firth of Clyde and near the western terminus of the ancient Antonine Wall, was a major transport hub during the Industrial Revolution and was vital to the success of the River Clyde, the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Caledonian and Dunbartonshire Railway.

Michael Easson, grants manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “We are really pleased to see the successful completion of this first phase of work at Bowling Harbour and hope the restoration of the swing bridge is a catalyst for a wider scheme to conserve and repair the surrounding area.”