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Alexander Hart

Early in 1800 Lord Thomas Dundas visited William Symington at Wanlockhead and discussed the possibility of making a steam engine to propel a tug. In June 1800 Lord Dundas put forward his proposal to the Forth & Clyde Canal Company who ordered a boat to be built. The hull was to be designed on a model by Captain Schank and the engine and propelling machinery by Symington.

Symington approached Alexander Hart whose yard was on the south bank of the river Carron, and asked him to build it. By this time, and after much experimenting, Symington had decided to use his new horizontal cylinder and stern wheel in the boat. Hart launched a boat in March 1801 and it has been suggested that it was a converted canal lighter, probably intended for trial of the engine, and that it was not of the Schank design.

By the end of June the boat was trialled on the Carron. Further alterations took place over the next few months, costs inevitably rose and it seemed likely that the canal committee would withdraw funding. Symington decided to halt trials of the vessel and the canal management committee later turned her in to a ballast boat for use at Grangemouth.

Meanwhile Symington, having employed local craftsman to make a working model of Hartís boat, took the model to London. Lord Dundas introduced him to Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736 - 1803) who was impressed with what he saw and gave him an order for 8 steam tugs for use on the Bridgewater Canal.