Avon Aqueduct, Linlithgow, Scotland, 1819-21. The Scottish engineer Hugh Baird (1777-1827) was working here with the advice of another Scotsman — Thomas Telford (1757-1834). Although pre-Victorian, the aqueduct is interesting because of its later history. The largest of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal aqueducts, it carries the canal over the River Avon just west of Linlithgow. At 810' long and 86' high, it is the second longest in Britain, next to Telford's Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales. [Click on this and the following images for larger pictures.]

Two more views of the aqueduct from the valley below, showing some of its twelve arched spans close up, the hollow spandrels being characteristic of Telford (see "Avon Aqueduct"). Note the tapering piers.

The whole canal was thirty-two miles long when first built, linking Edinburgh with the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk, but ends a mile earlier now. The project was planned with the aim of bringing coal to Edinburgh from the Scottish coalmines, and lime for building, but it was soon made redundant by the railways — inevitable, no doubt, but also engineered: the North British and Caledonian Railway Company purchased it in order to quash competition (see Muir 118). The railway network impacted earlier modes of transport in a variety of ways. The canal was closed in 1965, to be restored only towards the end of the century for leisure purposes. It was reopened in 2002.

The canal running through a cast-iron trough across the top of the aqueduct, with a cobbled towpath on each side.

The canal itself is interesting as an engineering feat because it follows the contours of the land throughout its length, only needing locks at the point where it joins the Forth and Clyde Canal. As well as being navigable (as indicated in the picture above) its towpaths provide an ideal walking route now, with views from the aqueduct down to the River Avon and its valley.

Photographs by Colin Price. Commentary and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or to the Victorian Web in a print document.


"Avon Aqueduct, Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal." Engineering Timelines. Web. 27 April 2016.

"Linlithgow to Falkirk." walkhighlands. Web. 27 April 2016.

Muir, T. S. Linlithgowshire. 1912. Pbk ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

"The Union Canal." Undiscovered Scotland. Web. 27 April 2016.

Created 29 April 2016