Union Canal, Edinburgh

Black and white photographs, c.1914
RCAHMS: Edinburgh Photographic Society Collection

The Union Canal was the last canal of any importance built in Scotland and primarily functioned as a means of bringing coal from the coalfields west of Edinburgh to the city. This ‘broad barge’ canal was begun in 1818 and opened in 1822 and was designed by William Baird (1770-1827) in consultation with Thomas Telford (1757-1834).  Overall the canal has 70 bridges, one tunnel, nine road aqueducts and three river valley aqueducts. It was never really commercially successful due to its original high cost and increasing competition from rail freight.