End of Season for our Rowing Boat Hire

Saturday 23rd September 2023, midday to 4.30 pm; opposite the Ashley Terrace Boathouse

To celebrate the end of our rowing boat hire for 2023 we’ll be hiring TWO of our traditional Rowing Boats at 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm. Each boat will cost £10 to hire, for a 50-minute session, maximum 5-persons per boat. All ten hires will be on a first come first served basis.

As well as the opportunity to hire out the boats we’ll have our usual tented-area, opposite the Boathouse, with tea/coffee/cakes available – and holding a raffle on the day with some fantastic prizes up for grabs. Join the event of Facebook

They’ll be one last opportunity on the Sunday (24th) with the last of our usual slots (2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm), three of which will be available to hire in advance. Please see our Rowing Boats section for more details.

The History of the Leamington Lift Bridge

When the Union Canal was first built, bridges were necessary to allow people and goods to cross readily from one side of it to the other. Most of these bridges, many of which are still in use today, were built of stone. But, as time passed, some of the early bridges had to be replaced or widened to cope with increasing traffic. At the Edinburgh end of the Canal, there were originally 5 wooden draw-bridges—including one where the Leamington Lift Bridge now stands—none of which survives today.

Sandra beside the Lemington Lift Bridge
Sandra Purves, article author, by the Leamington Lift Bridge

In 1865, The North British Railway company became the owners of the canal and, in 1869, replaced the Fountainbridge draw-bridge with a lifting bridge. In 1906, that lifting bridge was in turn replaced with a new steel vertical lift bridge designed and built by Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth of Newcastle. The new bridge’s road deck was raised using the latest technology: an electric motor. The power supply for this came from the Electrical Lighting Central Generating Station which had been built in 1895 in nearby Dewar Place. The electric motor drove a winch with two ropes which hauled down the counterweights to lift the bridge deck. The adjacent footbridge allowed pedestrians to continue on their way across the canal when the lift bridge was raised to allow boats to pass beneath it.  

By the end of the First World War, traffic on the canal had declined, and in 1922, the decision was taken to close the canal to the east of Fountainbridge and infill the terminal basins of Port Hopetoun and Port Hamilton. A new terminus called the Lochrin Basin was constructed to the south of Fountainbridge. As the lift bridge was no longer needed in Fountainbridge, it was dismantled and rebuilt on its present site, replacing the only remaining original wooden draw-bridge over the Union Canal and being renamed the Leamington Lift Bridge. 

The fortunes of the canal continued to decline for almost 60 years until, in the 1980s, canal enthusiasts and local people started campaigning to make the canal navigable once more. In 1986, the Edinburgh Canal Society was formed and in the 1990s, British Waterways submitted a funding bid to the National Lottery to restore the Union and Forth and Clyde canals. This bid resulted in The Millennium Link Project which restored the lowland canals to through-navigation.

As part of The Millennium Link Project, Leamington Lift Bridge was returned to working order, a hydraulic lift system replacing the original electric and winch mechanism. Further work to stabilise the bridge was carried out in 2018/19 and, in July 2021,  it was awarded a Red Wheel by the National Transport Trust.

A photograph of Leamington Lift Bridge and the nearby canal-side. The skies are blue and there are several canal boats in view.
Leamington Lift Bridge, 2023 – photo by Gina

Canal Festival Day June 17th 2023: update

A warm, partially cloudy, day offered the perfect weather for 2023’s Canal Festival on Edinburgh’s Union Canal. Our own stalls, opposite the Ashley Terrace Boathouse, were busy from the start. Almost all our home-baked cakes sold in the first couple of hours, and by 4pm they had all gone. The tombola stall, our second, proved hugely popular too with several people somehow managing to draw winning tickets for the items they particularly wanted. And we were delighted that every rowing boat hire slot was taken.

All around us, from our location along the canal-side to Lochrin Basin, were the sights and sounds of people enjoying the water and its surroundings, so uplifting to see—and hear!

We’re thrilled to say we raised a very welcome £750 to put towards our plans for EUCS and the Boathouse. Heartfelt thanks to all who supported us in any way on the day and in the run up to the event.

You can find out more about hiring our rowing boats here, and about EUCS membership here. We’d love to have you on board with either or both!

Canal Day 2023 image. Shows people having fun on paddle boards and in canoes or kayaks on the Edinburgh Union Canal.
Canal Festival Fun 2023

Canal Festival: Saturday, 17th June 2023

We’re only a few days away from this year’s Edinburgh Canal Festival which takes place on Saturday 17th June 2023 along the canal-side from Lochrin Basin to our own location at Ashley Terrace.

Our usual information and cake and hot drinks stalls will be set up on the towpath, opposite the Boathouse, and, additionally, we’ll be hiring out our two, recently refurbished rowing-boats which have proved very popular since we launched them back in mid-April.

Further details about hiring our boats can be found here. On Canal Festival day, we’ll have a total of 10 hire slots: 2 per hour at noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. All booking will be done on a first come, first served basis. Why not come along and enjoy the area from what will be for many a new perspective, or for some may offer a chance to relive an earlier experience of rowing on the canal many years ago?

We’ll also be holding our second tombola, helping to raise further funds for the Society, with some great prizes on offer. 

We look forward to meeting friends old and new on the day. Hope you’ll pop by and say hello!

Rowing boat hire is back

Sunday, 16th April 2023 saw the return of rowing boat hire on the Union Canal, opposite Ashley Terrace Boathouse. All six hire slots were snapped up, and we were thrilled to see folks enjoying our rowing boats again after so many years absence.

Rowing boats at Ashley Terrace

Lively cake and tombola stalls ran alongside the hire station for the two newly-refurbished boats. Huge thanks to all who gave their time to help us prepare for the day or dropped by to hire boats or support us in other ways. Thanks also to those who baked for our stall and to those who donated goods to the tombola, with particular thanks to Dundee Street Post Office and Lorraine at Dundee Street Sainsburys for their kind donations. You all helped us raise a very welcome £411 which has been added to EUCS funds, with the long term goal of renovating the Ashley Terrace Boathouse.

Our rowing boats will be available for hire almost every Sunday afternoon from now until 24th September.

For more detailed information about hiring the boats, please check out the Rowing Boats section of our website. If you still have unanswered questions, or would like to find out more about us, please do get in touch.

Our next canalside event will be on Saturday 17th June. We hope to see you then!