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Avon Aqueduct, Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal
Whitecross, near Linlithgow, Falkirk, Scotland, UK
Avon Aqueduct, Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal
associated engineer
Thomas Telford
Hugh Baird
date  1819 - 1821
era  Georgian  |  category  Aqueduct  |  reference  NS966758
ICE reference number  HEW 325/02
photo  © and licensed for reuse under this
A magnificent masonry aqueduct that carries the Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal east-west over the River Avon. It's the second-longest aqueduct in Britain, after the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the Vale of Llangollen, Wales. Both were designed by Scotsman Thomas Telford, in association with other engineers, and both remain in use.
The Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal is Scotland’s only ‘contour’ canal — constructed on almost entirely one level, following the 73m contour. Avon Aqueduct is the largest of the aqueducts on the canal and the longest in Scotland. The aqueducts at Slateford (NT220707), Edinburgh, and over the River Almond (NT086684) share its design.
The aqueduct is 247m long, 25.9m high and 7.2m wide with splayed ends where it joins the wider channel of the main canal. It has 12 segmental arched spans of 15.2m, each built to a standardised construction with hollow spandrels, as was characteristic of Telford’s (1757-1834) designs. Its engineer was Hugh Baird (1770-1827).
The canal flows in a cast iron trough just over 2m deep and 4.1m wide, set between the spandrel walls and braced with iron stays at 1.5m centres. It is supported over the arches by a series of longitudinal masonry walls. Cobbled towpaths run along both sides of the water.
Telford was not altogether convinced of the need for masonry spans and spandrels in addition to the iron trough, though Baird adopted this practice on all the Union Canal aqueducts.
The tapering piers supporting the arches are hollow, with buttresses up to parapet level. There are iron railings atop the parapet.
There is access to the interior of the structure through a small opening on the north side at the west end, for inspection and maintenance.
The aqueduct is now owned by British Waterways. It has been a Category A listed building since October 1972.
Contractor: Craven, Whitaker & Nowell
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SLB

Avon Aqueduct, Edinburgh & Glasgow Union Canal