The canal that was never completed. The Glasgow, Paisley & Ardrossan Canal was constructed to allow the movement of coal from pits in the west to Glasgow, and to allow goods made in Glasgow to be shipped to Scotland’s west coast where ships in the harbour at Ardrossan could take them all over the world.

The canal was a good idea. In the early 19th century the River Clyde in Glasgow was too shallow to allow the passage of ships, so goods being imported or exported had to travel by road to Port Glasgow which, as the name suggests, was Glasgow’s port at that time. But the roads were not in good condition, and it made a lot of sense to build a canal that would move goods backwards and forwards safely. But the old canal ran out of money.

The main financial backer, the 12th Earl of Eglinton whose name lives on in the Glasgow district Port Eglinton, died in 1819, and the stretch between Johnstone and Ardrossan was never built. In some old maps the canal is called the Glasgow, Paisley & Johnstone Canal, but in others it clings on to the ‘Ardrossan’ word, perhaps in the hope that some day it would be extended to its original intended west coast harbour. After a brief visit to the Port Eglinton area of Glasgow, close to the exact location of the Glasgow terminus of the canal, we head for Paisley Canal railway station and attempt to follow the old canal route in search of any remnants of this waterway.

For the canal was filled in in the 1880s and the route then used by the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company to build a new railway line that passed through Paisley.

But the railway line itself was closed in the 1980s, partially reopened between Paisley and Glasgow, and the section west of Paisley tuned into a cycle/walkway as part of the National Cycle Network. Is there anything left of the canal? Apart from a little bridge – Tannahill’s Bridge – that once sat over the canal, and a large reservoir that was formed when the canal closed, well … … pretty much nothing. Even the Ferguslie Thread Works that once sat by this reservoir, once one of the largest mills in the world, has gone, and all that is left is one gatehouse and that bit of water, used these days by swans and not for the movement of manufactured goods.

Thanks to Ed Explores Scotland for sending through this fantastic video.


Founder of in 1998 and constantly strives to change peoples attitudes to the town, Brian is a self described Paisley Digital Champion who promotes Paisley via any means necessary. You can also follow me on X