‘Rowing Boat Launch’ event

To mark the start of the 2024 Rowing Boat Season, the Edinburgh Union Canal Society (EUCS) will be hosting a ‘launch event’ on Sunday 14th April. If you’re interested in booking a boat, then details are now on our website here.

Raffle update
Canal cruise on ‘All Aboard’ thanks to People Know How. Won by Green 47

Rowing Boat hire on a Sunday. Won by Orange 53

Hand-quilted playmat. Won by Orange 102

Birchwood Art Studio on Ashley Terrace. Won by Orange 99

Pollination florists on Ashley Terrace. Won by Orange 203 Green 11

Kem & Co coffee shop on Ashley Terrace. Won by Orange 136

Heavenly Scran at Cloisters Bar on Brougham Street. Won by Orange 28

Molton & Brown mini gift box. Won by Orange 203

Bottle of whisky. Won by Green 23
Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Won by Orange 29
both donated by Tesco Express on Colinton Road

Bottle of wine. Won by Orange 72

2nd bottle of wine. Won by Orange 123

* a recent version of the raffle draw was advertised in the wrong order. All winners should have been contacted and informed of their prize by one of our committee. Apologies if this has caused any confusion.

On the day, EUCS will also have “Information Tents/Stalls/Tea/Coffee/Cake & a Raffle (with great prizes!)“; all on the towpath, opposite the Ashley Terrace Boathouse; and additionally, we’ll also be hiring out our three rowing-boats – we have refurbished a third boat for this year! And our friends at the ‘Fountainbridge Canalside Community Trust’ will also be hiring out their electric boat – Kingfisher … so; FOUR BOATS to choose from 🙂

Some further details, including some requests for help, follow below:

  • We’ll be operational, opposite the Ashley Terrace Boathouse, between 12noon and 5pm … so please do come along on the day, if you can – as you’ll be able to find out more about our ongoing work and also sample some marvelous homemade cakes! Additionally, we’ll be holding a raffle with great prizes on offer, all helping to raise further funds for the Society!

Volunteers (and any home-baking) are also needed across the day – and any help between 10.30am through to 5.30pm on Sunday 14th April; even if for half-an-hour, would be great:

so; for Sunday 14th April 2024

  • 10.30am onwards; we’ll be on-site (opposite the Boathouse), setting up the tent/s – CAN YOU HELP, even if for half-an-hour? … we have new (easier to erect) gazebos, but any help would still be much appreciated!
  • 12noon; the stalls (within the tent/s) will be open – there will be information about EUCS; and a fundraising raffle will be taking place!
  • we’ll also be selling (very cheaply!) tea/coffee/cakes etc. – & COULD YOU HELP by providing any home-baking, even a small amount would assist (either bring it on the Sunday and/or pop it into 32 Cowan Road on the day before; Saturday 13th April)
  • and as mentioned, three newly refurbished rowing-boats (and an electric boat) will also be ‘for hire’ at 12noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm; so we’ll need some helpers to Staff that process – all relevant instructions will be provided!
  • and at around 4.30pm on the Sunday we’ll be packing-up and taking down the tent/s etc.: again, any assistance with these tasks would be very welcome … it really is a great help just having one or two extra pairs of hands when getting the tents down 🙂

IMPORTANTLY – we’ll also be bagging-up all the homemade cakes from 6.30pm the night before, on Saturday 13th April 2024, at 32 Cowan Road … again, any help with this task would be much appreciated … please do just call round 🙂

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