Welcome to the Friends of the Charlotte Dundas Website


In 1800 Thomas, Lord Dundas, Governor of the Forth and Clyde Canal Company, asked William Symington if he could build a steamboat for use on the canal. In 1802 a fine steam-powered tugboat, with a slider-crank drive system, was completed.

Symington named her Charlotte Dundas. She proved herself in a test on 28 March 1803 by pulling two 70-ton barges 18½ miles in 9¼ hours, from Lock 20 on the canal to Port Dundas, against a head wind. On board were Symington, Alexander Hart, John Allan, and various dignitaries.

The tug, 56 feet long by 18 feet wide was powered by a 10-horsepower engine linked to a paddle wheel in a stern well.

The Duke of Bridgewater had ordered eight steam tugs to be built but died before the trials took place. Symington had imagined that his paddle-steamer could replace the horses pulling barges along the canals, which were the main form of transporting heavy goods such as coal and timber in Scotland and England.

The canal company did not take up his invention, arguing that the wash from the paddles would damage the banks. His inventions and creative brilliance proved to be an inspiration for others and a great contribution to the Industrial Revolution.



It is proposed to commence the construction of the Heritage Trail in mid January. Partner approval, planning permission, public consultation and initial funding are in place to start this exciting and ambitious plan to celebrate the Charlotte Dundas and the greater industrial heritage of the local community.

The Development

The Friends of the Charlotte Dundas, based in Grangemouth was formed by volunteers in 2013 with a view to raising awareness of, and establishing a lasting commemoration to the Charlotte Dundas, the “first practical steamboat”, its creator William Symington and those associated with the local infrastructure. The project will create a community led Heritage Trail, along the Forth and Clyde Canal between the Helix Park and Lock 1 where the canal meets the River Carron to:

Celebrate the world's first steam boat, the ‘Charlotte Dundas', built in a boatyard on the river Carron at Grangemouth.

Champion the rich industrial and cultural heritage associated with the canal.

Enhance the landscape and natural habitat alongside the canal walkway.

Provide the ‘missing link’ between two existing footpath/cycle tracks (76 and 754), the canal paths and Grangemouth.

Use the Trail as a catalyst to provide a social amenity and green space area and to promote social inclusion, teaching and learning and connectivity for residents, disabled, walkers, cyclists and visitors.

Use the Trail as a learning and skill building experience for the local community and tourists.

Increase visitors to the area of development and the adjacent Helix Park. This heritage trail/linear corridor can be a major asset to Grangemouth and the Falkirk area.

Improve the overall quality of life for communities by enhancing the natural beauty of a place promoting multi-modal travel, connecting people to the outdoors, and revitalise our historic town and present employment, training and business opportunities.

The Trail:

The Trail has circular canal paths with interpretation panels, seating, signage and a landscaped space at Lock 1. The walking and cycle paths provide access to the natural environment and residential areas. The Trail major features are:

Entrance to the Trail at the Helix Park.

South bank of the canal with interpretation panels, seating and signage to Lock 1.

Lock 1 with a landscaped area, information panels, seating and signage.

North bank of the canal with interpretation panels and seating.

The ‘Rope Path’, from Lock 1 east to the community Dalgrain Road.

Trail Layout

Lock 1 Area Artist Impresssion

Artist Impression

Lock 1 Landscaped Area Layout

Lock 1 Landscaped Layout

Heritage Trail looking west from Glenburgh Road

Heritage Trail looking west

Heritage Trail looking west from Lock 1

Heritage Trail looking west from lock 1