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First Red Wheel unveiled in Scotland

The Transport Trust has unveiled its first Red Wheel in Scotland. The latest plaque commemorates the Glasgow, Paisley & Ardrossan Canal, and has been placed on the Canal Station pub and restaurant in Paisley.

The canal, designed by John Rennie and Thomas Telford, opened in 1810 and only ran for 11 miles between Glasgow and Johnstone, the money running out before it could reach Ardrossan on the coast. Even the shortened length was never profitable but it survived for 70 years, being converted into a railway in 1885.

The name 'Canal Station' recalls both forms of transport. The railway station was built on the site of the Paisley Basin, itself the scene of the UK's biggest canal tragedy. Just days after the waterway opened, 84 people were drowned here when a passenger boat capsized, a disaster commemorated in a separate plaque nearby (WW July 2015).

The canal also featured the longest arch in any aqueduct of the canal age, across the River White Cart at Blackhall Bridge. This was retained for the succeeding railway, and at 209 years old it remains the world's oldest operational railway bridge. The railway was closed in 1983 but reopened in 1990 as a commuter route from Canal Station into Glasgow. A half-mile section of the old canal remains in water near Johnstone.

The Transport Trust is due shortly to unveil the second Scottish Red Wheel, at Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland railway line, known to a new generation as the 'Harry Potter bridge'.

Tuesday 20 August  | Andrew Denny  | 1.24pm, Tuesday 20 August 2019

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