A Plan of Stevenston Coaliery and Canals

The canal which ran between Saltcoats and Stevenston opened in 1772, and was the first to be fully worked in Scotland. In the Stevenston area, there were around 30 coal pits of varying depths in operation in the 18th century and the coal, once mined, had to be sold and most ready cartage through tracks made in the sand dunes to the then best Harbour in the area, Saltcoats. The Saltcoats Canal was of an extremely primitive nature. It was little more than a elongated ditch lined with puddled clay and filled by damning the Stevenston Burn at a point near Ardeer Cottage. There were no locks or reservoirs on the canal, it was 4 feet deep and 13 feet wide in the main branch, narrowing to 9 feet in the smaller ones and thus boats of only 12 to 15 tons could operate on it. It ran along where Esplanade Cottages and Blakely Road now stand, and half under where the later Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway (“Caley”) embankment stands to Ardeer Cottage, then by Canal Crescent to Portland Place where it went direct to a point opposite the gunpowder wagons sidings at the Nylon Plant. At that point there was a Y-fork and the main canal terminated, three short branches were made to serve the pits in the area bounded by New Street, Ardeer House and the new access road to Ardeer. Two short canals (entirely separate from the main one) were built at the main Misk Field to carry coals into the River Garnock and then to Ireland. Little now remains of the canal in the changing times, weedchoked fraction can be seen beside the remains of the hillside No.1 Pit opposite the gunpowder wagon sidings at the Nylon Plant. Another vague depression exits on the seaward side of the disused Lanarkshire and Ayrshire railway at Brewery Park, but, it will be admitted one must had good imagination to see both of these fragments as belonging to the bustling Saltcoats Canal.
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