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COMMEMORATION PLANS FOR THE STEAMBOAT CHARLOTTE DUNDAS

The recently constituted group, Friends of the Charlotte Dundas, based in Grangemouth, has exciting plans for a permanent commemoration of the World’s first practical steamship, Charlotte Dundas.

The town of Grangemouth, once designated ‘The Boom Town’, has seen a period of decline. The traditional industries of ship-building, dockyards, dyestuffs manufacturing, soap-works and petrol-chemicals have disappeared or been reduced and little of their history remains. Had it not been for the efforts of the Grangemouth Heritage Society and the Victoria Library, current and future Portonians, as well as visitors, would be unaware of the rich heritage the town has.

The siting of the reconstructed Spitfire, the war memorial to the pilots has finally acknowledged the importance of Grangemouth as the site of the Central Scotland Airport. Its key role in World War II is well documented. Sadly, apart from this, little has been done to recognise the maritime history of Grangemouth. The redevelopment of Leith stands in stark contrast to the current state of what was the Old Town of Grangemouth. Everything that the old Leith had could have been found in Grangemouth. The taverns dedicated to the whaling industry, the art nouveau stained glass windows in many pubs and the range of stevedore and chandlers buildings were all demolished. While expressing disappointment at the loss of local and national heritage items, it is deeply distressing to find an almost total absence of recognition for an item of world importance - the Charlotte Dundas.

In 2006 the replica of the Charlotte Dundas vessel was moved from the Falkirk Wheel to storage at a boatyard in Arbroath until a decision could be made as to her future. The vessel is currently owned by Falkirk Council and discussions with them are ongoing. Unfortunately, the vessel is in a state of extreme disrepair in Arbroath and urgent action is required.

Early proposals to incorporate a restored vessel into the plans for either the Helix Canal Basin Extension or the Helix Park were unsuccessful as not in keeping with the Helix Park vision.

A very viable alternative proposal is to have a local Grangemouth site commemorating the vessel in an exhibit for the public to view the historical design, the rich history and culture and the pivotal place it had in steam ship navigation and the Industrial Revolution. The exhibit would include memorial plaques to important people and local industries such as William Symington, Lord Dundas, Alexander Hart, John Allan, the Carron Company and a myriad of local foundries. The vessel would be a focal point for community learning and teaching exemplified in an interactive web site, lesson plans for visitors and local schools and programmes for site visitors.

Possible sites under review are the Zetland Park and areas close to the old dock.

After much discussion no suitable site could be found and the Friends of the Charlotte Dundas reverted to the present plan to create a Heritage Trail along the canal extension of the Forth and Clyde Canal between the Helix Park and Lock 1 where the canal meets the River Carron and to connect Lock 1 to the Dalgrain Road via the ‘Rope Path’ development.

The Trail is an opportunity for the community to have a new and distinctive visual attraction for visitors, particularly those interested in the heritage of the area and the Industrial Revolution. It will become a valuable educational tool for schoolchildren and groups learning about the area’s rich industrial heritage.

FUNDING

Funding and pledges have been made by

Awards for All

EB Scotland

SUSTRANS

Scottish Canals

Stafford Trust

Foundation Scotland

Common Good Fund

Community Schools

Private Sponsors