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The Social and Industrial history of Scotland, from the Union to the present time
Nineteenth Century: 7. Rise and Extension of Railways

The beginning of railway construction in Scotland goes back to the eighteenth century. The first railways were waggon tracks laid down for the purpose of facilitating local goods traffic consisting chiefly of coal and iron. In 1745, the y<mr of the Battle of Prestonpans, a trainway was in operation in the neighbourhood of the battlefield. It consisted of cast iron rails placed on transverse planks and served to convey the coal waggons, drawn by horses from the mines at Tranent, to the harbour of Cockenzie on the Firth of Forth. Such a track was in use from the collieries at Little Govan to the Clyde at Springfield as early as 1778, horse haulage being used as in the case of canal traffic. Another line connecting Kilmarnock and Troon Harbour, a distance of fully ten miles—the nucleus of the later Glasgow and Southwestern—was opened in 1811. The iron rails were 4 feet apart and 4 inches broad, rested on stone blocks, and crossed the Irvine by a bridge of four arches, each of 40 feet span. Over this track a horse could haul two loaded waggons at the rate of two miles an hour. Passenger carriages were also run on it at a more expeditious rate of speed and in this respect it was an anticipation of the later tramway system of cities. A few years later George Stephenson successfully solved the problem of applying steam to railway haulage and in 1825 the Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened for the conveyance of passengers as well as goods. In the following year the first Scottish railway, on which the proprietors were authorised by Act of Parliament to run "locomotives or moveable engines"—that between Monk-land and Kirkintilloch on the Forth and Clyde Canal—was completed and opened for traffic. Its length was ten miles and at first horse haulage was used, one horse drawing four waggons of coal or ironstone, equal to 12 tons, from Monkland to the Canal at Kirkintilloch and returning with the empty waggons at the rate of three journeys in two days. By 1832, however, two locomotives were at work on the line with the result that the cost of carriage was greatly reduced and the rent of the collieries proportionately enhanced to the proprietors. Within ten years the line was doubled and an extension, authorised by Parliament in 1826, was carried out by another company in the Monkland coalfield known as the Ballochney Railway. In 1835 powers were obtained by a third company for a further extension, under the name of the Slamannan Railway, from the termination of the Ballochney line, through Slamannan and Avonbridge, to the Edinburgh and Glasgow Canal at Causewayend. In 1848 the three companies were amalgamated as the Monkland Railways and in 1865 were acquired by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, which, later in the same year, became part of the North British system. The old Monkland-Kirkintilloch Railway may thus be regarded as the nucleus of the North British. In the same year that the Ballochney Railway was sanctioned, Parliament authorised an extension westwards from the Monkland coalfield to Glasgow under the name of the Garnkirk Railway— the nucleus of the Caledonian. The rapid industrial development of Glasgow necessitated a cheaper and more expeditious supply of coals than could be obtained by water carriage on the Monkland Canal. The line, 8 miles long, cost 12,000 per mile and followed the course of the Canal. It was opened in 1831, the first train being drawn by a locomotive named the "George Stephenson" and driven by Stephenson himself.- "The city terminus was St Rollox," says Mr Eyre Todd. "Two locomotives, weighing 6| tons each, were got from Stephenson's works at Newcastle, and on an autumn day the railway was opened with much ceremony and eclat. An engraving of the time shows the two trains passing each other on the double line of rails at the bottom of a shallow cutting. The squat, little, low engines have tall chimney-stalks, and the driver stands on a small open platform, while the train consists of four open trucks filled with passengers, two covered carriages on the model of the old mail-coaches, with the guards sitting on the roof, and a high open char-a-banc in the rear occupied by ladies. . . . The train weighed over 100 tons; nevertheless, it is recorded, the engine ' advanced under this prodigious load, not only with perfect freedom, but at the speed of a stage coach.' " It proved a boon to the Glasgow factories, the cost of the carriage of coal from the Monkland collieries to Glasgow ere long falling from 3s. 6d. to 1s. 3d. per ton. Passengers as well as goods were carried, and on the Glasgow Fast Day in October, 1834, when as many as six trains were despatched from St Rollox, about 1,250 passengers were forwarded. Three years later the system of collecting the fares in transit gave place to that of purchasing tickets before starting on the journey. The increase in the passenger traffic was even more substantial than in that of minerals. Whereas in the first five years after the opening of the line the tonnage of minerals carried rose from 114,000 to 140,000 tons, the number of passengers increased from 02,000 to 145,000.

Another line running between Wishaw and Coltness, which may also be regarded as a nucleus of the Caledonian, was opened in 1833. In 1837 powers were obtained by a company to construct a line from Glasgow to Paisley, Kilmarnock, and Ayr— another important step towards what became the Glasgow and South-Western Railway.

On the eastern side of the country railway extension may be said to have started with the line which connected the capital with Dalkeith, by way of Fisherrow, with a branch to Leith, and which was authorised in 1826. This line, popularly known as " the Innocent Railway," was miles in length and was opened in 1831, horse traction being used for the conveyance of goods and passengers. Although the company was authorised to use self-moving locomotives, these horse-drawn carriages were run as late as 1845, a stationary engine being used to haul them by means of ropes up the tunnelled incline from Duddingston to St Leonard's station. During the next 30 years or so powers were successively obtained by various companies and lines constructed to connect Edinburgh with Glasgow, Berwick, Hawick, Carlisle, Dunfermline, Alloa, Stirling, Perth, Dundee.' The company which constructed the line from Edinburgh to Berwick, with a branch to Haddington, opened in 1840, took the name of the North British, and this company gradually absorbed the others operating in the south-eastern and eastern region from Berwick and Carlisle to the Tay, and gradually added to its mileage by the construction of branch lines within the area in which it is practically supreme. It extended its radius northwards of the Tay to Arbroath, Montrose, and Bervie, with running powers from Montrose to Aberdeen. Westwards it carried its connections by amalgamation or new construction to Bathgate, Airdrie, Coatbridge, Hamilton, Bo'ness, Grangemouth, Larbert, Aberfoyle, Helensburgh, and Balloch on Loch Lomond. In 1889 it took powers to penetrate the West Highlands by a line running from Helensburgh to Fort William, a distance of 100 miles, which was ojpened in 1897 and subsequently extended westwards to Mallaig and northwards to Fort Augustus. In order to obviate the drawback of crossing the Forth and Tay by ferry boat, it carried out two of the greatest feats in railway construction by the bridging of these two firths. The first bridge across the Tay, two miles in length, which was opened in June 1878, was too slender and too badly constructed to bear the weight of traffic and the wind pressure, and was destroyed by a furious gale on Sunday night, the 28th December, 1879, the passenger train from Edinburgh to Dundee, which attempted to cross it on the evening of that day being precipitated with its living freight into the water below. It was replaced by a far more substantial structure, which was opened in 1887. The consequent increase by the East Coast traffic between north and south made it necessary to bridge the Forth between North and South Queensferry, and with the co-operation of the English North-Eastern, Great Northern, and Midland Companies the Parliamentary sanction of this great undertaking was obtained in 1882. The bridge was designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker on the cantilever principle and its construction, which was carried out by the former, was completed in 1890. Its opening, in turn, necessitated the enlargement of the Waverley Station at Edinburgh, begun in 1895 and completed in 1900. At the date of its opening it was, and probably still is, the largest station in Great Britain, comprising over 23 acres, of which fully the half are under roof. The two main line platforms are each about 560 yards in length, with four dock platforms at each end of an average length of 180 yards. The total cost of the station and the reconstruction of the Waverley Bridge was 1| million pounds. The goods station at Portobello, one of the largest in the United Kingdom, has also in recent years been greatly extended. Another great engineering work was the construction of the " City and District " line, underneath the heart of Glasgow, to connect with the eastern line to Edinburgh via Bathgate and the Helensburgh line along the north side of the Clyde.

Since the incorporation of the Company in 1844 for the construction of the line between Edinburgh and Berwick, with a branch to Haddington, its mileage has steadily increased until it is now the longest of all the Scottish railways. The Edinburgh and Berwick line was about 62 miles long. In 1864 the mileage had swelled to 749. About fifty years later (1912) it had nearly doubled with 1,339 miles. A corresponding increase had taken place in the traffic. In 1864 the number of passengers and the tonnage of goods and minerals carried were over 7 millions and millions respectively, and the receipts were 1,261,785. In 1912 the figures were 84,984,829 passengers and 29,867,262 tons of goods and minerals, and the income was over 5 million odds, whilst the paid up capital reached a total of 71 million odds.

The Caledonian Railway Company, like the North British, has grown into the great dimensions of to-day by means of amalgamation as well as direct construction. Though the Company bearing this name was incorporated in 1845, its genesis, as already noted, may be found in the Glasgow and Garnkirk and the Wishaw and Coltness Railways, which it amalgamated in 1846 and 1849. It was formed to construct a line from Carlisle up the valley of the Annan, over the Beattock summit, into Clydesdale to Edinburgh in the east, Glasgow in the west, and Greenhill in the north. The great obstacle to the realisation of the scheme was the sharp gradient to the Beattock summit, which appeared at first to be insuperable. An alternative line with an easier gradient from Lockerbie up the Nith to Kilmarnock and Glasgow was proposed and debated. But ultimately the Annan-dale route was selected, and the line as originally conceived was completed in 1848, the total length being 144 miles. From Greenhill northward the Scottish Central Railway, completed in 1848, ran to Perth. Another line, constructed by a separate Company and opened in 1847, connected Perth with Dundee. From Perth northward the Scottish Midland, completed in the same year, extended to Forfar, whence the North-Eastern Railway extended to Aberdeen. By a series of amalgamations carried out in 1865-66 these companies were absorbed into the Caledonian, which then became the owner of the whole line from Carlisle to Aberdeen. From this line a series of branches, as the result of further amalgamations or new construction, diverge east and west. The connections to the west extend to Dumfries,

Portpatrick, Glasgow, Greenock, Kilmarnock, Ayr, Wemyss Bay, Oban, Ballachulish, Crieff, Blairgowrie, Kirriemuir, Brechin; to the east, Peebles, Dolphinton, Edinburgh, Alloa, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose. Several of these connections, particularly the Castle Douglas-Portpatrick, and the Callander and Oban lines—the latter completed in 1880—are not owned, but only worked by the Caledonian, and from Larbert to Edinburgh it has only running powers over the North British. From Glasgow to the capital it maintains a through service by a line which was completed in 1866.

The Caledonian has not been called on to face such engineering problems as the bridging of the Forth and Tay Firths. But it has to its credit the construction of the longest tunnel in Scotland connecting Greenock and Gourock, which occupied five years. Another work of vast difficulty was the construction of the Glasgow Central Underground Railway, 7 miles in length, in order to obtain direct access to the docks instead of running their trains over the North British round the north of Glasgow. Up to 1873 the Glasgow terminus was on the south side of the Clyde, but in this year an Act was obtained to bridge the river and construct the Central Station in Gordon Street. Both were subsequently extended, and this extension, begun in 1901, was completed in 1910. During the last fifty years its mileage has steadily grown from 230 miles in 1864 to 900 in 1912, with a corresponding increase in the number of passengers and the tonnage of goods and minerals carried from about 8 and 7^ millions to 31,684,886 and 26,393,166 respectively. Though the latter numbers are less than in the case of the North British, the total receipts were somewhat larger for the Caledonian than for its rival. In 1912 they amounted to 5,140,822 compared with 1,660,983 in 1864, whilst its paid up capital rose from 18 million odds to nearly 74 millions.

In mileage the Glasgow and South-Western is somewhat smaller than the Highland Railway. But it takes rank after the North British and Caledonian in the extent and value of its traffic, whilst earlier in date than either. In 1811 the Kilmarnock and Troon Railway was only about ten miles long. In 1837 an Act was obtained to connect Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock, and Ayr, the miles being completed in 1840, though, owing to engineering difficulties, the line passed only within 5 miles of Kilmarnock. In 1840 another company, with the cooperation of the Ayrshire Company, obtained permission to construct a railway to connect these towns by way of Cumnock and Nithsdale with the Border, and on the completion of the connections in 1850 the two companies were amalgamated as the Glasgow and South-Western. In 1805 it absorbed the line from Dumfries to Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright. From the main line through Renfrew and Ayr shires a number of branches diverge to Greenock, Ardrossan, Largs, and other places. From Ayr an extension southwards was made by a separate company to Dalmellington in 1850 and amalgamated two years later. Another extension by way of Maybole to Girvan was completed in 1800 and absorbed in 1805, though the portion between Ayr and Maybole is only leased to and worked by the company. A further extension from Girvan to Portpatrick, opened in 1870, was acquired in 1892. Besides the two main lines from Glasgow to Dumfries and Carlisle, and to Ayr and Portpatrick respectively, with their various branches, the company is joint owner with the Caledonian of the Glasgow, Barrhead, and Kilmarnock Railway and a direct route between Edinburgh and Ayr, via Lanark and Carstairs, over part of its system, was created by the extension of the Caledonian Lanark-Douglas branch to Muir-kirk. Whilst the south-western region which it serves is largely agricultural, it derives a large mineral and goods traffic from the industrial and mining districts of Renfrew and Ayr shires. It has a considerable share of the Clyde coast traffic by way of Greenock, and of the express passenger traffic from Glasgow to England, via Dumfries and Carlisle, and to Ireland, via Ardrossan or Stranraer. In order to facilitate the through traffic with the North British, the Glasgow Union Railway, whose shares are held in equal portions by the two Companies and which unites their lines, was constructed. As the result of this undertaking, its terminus was transferred in 1870 from Bridge Street on the south side of the Clyde to the large station at St Enoch's Square, on the north side of the river. In 1912 its mileage had risen to 400 miles, the number of passengers and the tonnage of minerals and goods carried to 16,328,321 and 8,842,452, and the receipts to just over two millions.

The Great North of Scotland radiates from Aberdeen throughout the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin, and part of Inverness. The first portion of what ultimately became the Great North system to be completed was, however, the line from Elgin to Lossiemouth, which was opened in 1852. It was only in this year that the construction of the main line northwestwards was begun and four years elapsed before it was completed as far as Keith. From Keith it was extended south-westwards for a distance of 48 miles to Craigellachie and later along the Spey valley to Boat of Garten—101 miles from Aberdeen—which is the terminus in this direction and where it comes into touch with the Highland line. From Craigellachie the Morayshire line, which was authorised in 1846 and amalgamated with the Great North in 18S0, provided a connection northwards to Elgin, from which the coast route, finished in 1886 runs eastwards along the Moray Firth to Portsoy and then sweeps inland by Tillynaught to join the main line at Grange, between Keith and Huntly, with a branch from Tillynaught to Banff. This coast line is now the main through line by the Great North from Aberdeen to Inverness. Within the limits of Aberdeenshire there are three main branches from the main line—the Buchan branch from Dyce to Fraserburgh, completed in 1865, with sub-branches from Ellon to Cruden Bay, opened in 1897, and from Maud to Peterhead, completed in 1865; the Don valley branch from Kin to re up the Don to Alford, completed in 1859; and the Turriff and Macduff branch from Inveiamsie, completed in 1860. From Aberdeen the Deeside line runs westwards up the Dee valley to Banchory, Aboyne, and Ballater, to which it was continued in three successive instalments between 1852 and 1866. In the latter year it was leased to the Great North, and ten years later amalgamated with it. The whole system serves a rich agricultural country, with many prosperous fishing towns and villages along the coast, and its goods traffic consists mainly of agricultural produce, cattle, dead meat, and fish'. On the Deeside and Speyside sections there is also a considerable tourist traffic to the summer resorts in these beautiful Highland valleys. The station at Aberdeen is jointly owned the Caledonian and has been greatly enlarged in recent years.

For long its passenger service was a vexation to the traveller. In the early "eighties" it had no express trains, and many of them carried both goods and passengers. The journey from Aberdeen to Elgin, for instance—a distance of 80 miles—took at least 4>\ hours. During the decade between 1880 and 1890 a marked improvement took place in the speed of its trains and in its locomotives and carriages. "The new stock," says Mr Acworth, "would do credit to any line in Great Britain." In 1912 its total mileage was 838 miles, the number of passengers carried was over 3 millions, the goods and mineral traffic amounted to over 1 million tons, and the receipts to 518,049. The paid up capital stood at 7,661,825.

The fifth of the great Scottish railways—the Highland—originated with the opening of the line from Inverness to Nairn—a distance of 15 miles—in 1855. Three years later it was extended to Keith by the company bearing the name of the Inverness and Aberdeen Junction Railway. Another extension was made northwards from Inverness by the Inverness and Ross-shire Company to Dingwall and Invergordon between 1861 and 1868, the two companies having been meanwhile amalgamated. A further extension brought the line to Bonar Bridge, and thence to Golspie, Helmsdale, Wick, and Thurso by various undertakings which were amalgamated with the larger company in 1884. Four years earlier the amalgamation of the Dingwall and Skye line extended its jurisdiction to Strome Ferry and subsequently to Kyleackin in the west. Meanwhile the Inverness and Perth Junction Railway from Forres to Dunkeld, to connect with the Perth and Dunkeld line, opened in 1856, had been sanctioned in 1861. The distance of 112 miles was completed in 1863 when an amalgamation took place with the Perth and Dunkeld. Two years later the whole of these northern lines so far constructed were united under the name of the Highland Railway, which, in consequence of the additions subsequently made, attained a length of 507 miles. The most important of these additions was the direct connection between Aviemore northwestwards across the Findhorn and Nairn valleys to Inverness, the viaduct across the Nairn river being 600 yards long, that across the Findhorn 390. The line from Dunkeld to Inverness, via Aviemore, runs through some of the grandest scenery in the Highlands, and attains at Drummochter, the pass into the upper Spey valley (1,484 feet) the highest railway altitude in Great Britain. Owing to the drifting snow in winter the snow plough is often requisitioned to make a passage through the drifts off the moors and the mountain sides on to the line in spite of the double walls of raised sleepers by which it is guarded in many places. A considerable proportion of its course, however, passes through the fertile regions bounding the Moray Firth, with its adjuncts the Beauly Firth and the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths. From Perth onwards its tourist traffic is very heavy in summer. Next to this traffic, the carriage of sheep, cattle, fish, timber, and agricultural produce is its mainstay. Though the number of passengers and the tonnage of goods carried in 1912 were less than those on the Great North (2 million odds and 600,000 tons odds respectively) the receipts, 574,590, were considerably larger on a paid up capital of just under 7 millions.

The statistics relative to each of the five main Scottish railways 'are very significant of the progress of railway enterprise in Scotland during the last fifty years. This progress will appear still more striking from a comparison of the figures for the whole of them during this period. In 1864 the total mileage amounted to 1720. In 1912 it had swelled (including the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire joint line, 82 miles long), to 3,627. The total capital similarly rose from about 47f millions to close on 185 millions, the number of passengers from over 20 millions to close on 89 millions, the tonnage of goods and minerals from nearly 18 millions to nearly 67 millions, the receipts from all sources from about 3f millions to nearly 18| millions.

A marked feature of Scottish railway history has been the keen spirit of competition between the various companies for possession of the traffic in districts in which two or more lines operate, especially in the central region, in which population and industry are so largely concentrated. A large part of this history has been concerned with the battle for predominance or monopoly, and this has been especially the case with the North British and Caledonian Construction was long partly dominated by this motive. Happily there is now a tendency to adopt a more pacific policy, if only in virtue of self interest. The fierce and reckless competition has proved to be a policy that does not pay, and agreements of various kinds, such as interchange of railway tickets Where the railways serve the same towns, have been adopted in order to mitigate it. Another noteworthy feature has been the amalgamation of local lines by the larger companies in order to facilitate through traffic between the larger towns in Scotland itself and between Scotland and England. Hence the development of the main lines by the eastern, central, and western routes from the Border to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, to Dundee, Aberdeen, and Inverness. The result has been a great advance in expeditious travelling and goods transit. For instance, a passenger can travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow in about an hour by the North British or the Caledonian, transact business, and return within a single forenoon. Or, he can leave Edinburgh in the morning, travel to Aberdeen by the Forth and Tay bridges, in about three hours and twenty minutes, transact business in the northern city, and be back in Edinburgh in the late afternoon, or early evening. Still more wonderful, he can travel to London by a train leaving Edinburgh at 7.45 in the morning, arrive at 4.10 p.m., transact business in the late afternoon, and even go to the theatre in the evening, leave London at 11.30, and be back in Edinburgh at 7.15 in the morning, within the twenty-four hours. Equally noteworthy has been the improvement in the rolling stock. In 1804 the largest locomotive in full working order weighed about 60 tons. In 1912 the weight had been doubled. Similarly the heaviest carriages weighed 13 tons, were 24 feet long, and rested on four wheels. To-day the dining cars are 00 feet long, weigh 44 tons, and have six bogie wheels at each end. In the same interval goods waggons have increased in weight from 5 tons with a carrying capacity of 6 tons, and 15 feet in length, to 7 tons with a capacity of 16 tons and a length of 20 feet.

Railway extension as well as the increase in shipping has given a great impulse to the construction of docks and harbours. Both the North British and the Caledonian own large docks in the Firth of Forth—the Caledonian at Grangemouth and South ' Alloa, the North British at Alloa, Bo'ness, Burntisland, and Methil, which serve as outlets for the export of coal from the Fife coalfields. The Methil docks are three in number and cover 271 acres. At Grangemouth the Caledonian built a new dock in 1876 several acres in extent and 24 feet deep, and in 1906 added a second about 30 acres in extent and about 30 feet deep to cope with the coal export trade from the Lanarkshire mines. On the west coast there are railway docks of smaller extent at Ayr, Troon, and Ardrossan.

The development of railway enterprise adversely affected canal extension in Scotland, and only in the more inaccessible western region has this form of communication proved of much service. The Crinan Canal, constructed during the last years of the eighteenth century at a cost of 100,000, provides expeditious passenger transit by steamer from the Clyde to Oban. It has long been an important highway for summer tourist traffic, but I is unsuited for the passage of cargo steamers of any size. For this purpose it would require to be enlarged and the project of improving it has been pressed in recent years in the interest of trade between Glasgow and the Western Highlands. "The Canal," urges the County Council of Argyll, " is situated on the shortest, most direct, and most sheltered route between the Clyde and Western Highlands; but on account of its insufficiency that route is not available for the larger vessels that provide modern means of transit. . . . The construction of a Crinan Ship Canal, available at all states of tide, and capable of passing expeditiously the largest steamer trading to the Highlands, would be of the very greatest benefit to the district by cheapening and accelerating communication with Clyde ports. And the bringing of the entire district into closer touch with, and 85 miles nearer to, its southern market, would do much to arrest the serious depopulation now in progress, and would greatly help to develop new industries."

In 1773 James Watt prepared plans for the construction of a canal through Glenmore—the great strath that runs northeastwards from Loch Linnhe to the Moray Firth—to provide a through passage for large vessels from the Atlantic to the North Sea and vice versa. Hi^ estimate of 165,000 was deemed too formidable to be faced by the projectors, and nearly thirty years elapsed before the project was resumed. In 1803 the work was begun under the direction of the engineers Telford and Jessop, and in 1822 it was opened at a cost of 885,000. It was finally completed in 1843-47 and cost 1,311,270. Though in ordinary times it carries a considerable goods and tourist traffic and during the war proved serviceable as a line of communication with the American naval base at Inverness, it has failed to become a highway for deep sea vessels between the eastern and the western seas. The idea of providing such a waterway has recently taken the form of a project to construct a new canal between the Forth and the Clyde. The deepening of the present canal is deemed impracticable on account of the 90 feet summit which would involve the construction of at least six locks—three at either end —by which to lift the largest battleships and steamers. Moreover the deepening of the Clyde at Yoker, across the tide, to at least 86 feet and the maintenance of the channel is regarded as another insuperable objection. The advocates of the proposed deep sea canal, therefore, prefer a new route from Grangemouth via Stirling, Loch Lomond, and Loch Long, which would maintain the Loch Lomond level all through, and would require only one 21 feet lock at either end. The estimated cost—20 millions —is very formidable. But its supporters point to the fact that Germany spent an equally large sum in the construction of the canal between Kiel and the mouth of the Elbe, and that the Manchester Ship Canal cost 17,000,000. In support of the expenditure of this large sum they adduce the commercial and strategical advantages which would accrue from such a waterway. It would, they contend, greatly add to the mobility of the Fleet by ensuring the rapid transfer of war vessels from the North Sea to the Atlantic and vice versa, and would bring the Naval Base at Rosyth into touch with the repairing yards on the Clyde. It would thus materially add to the national safety. It would, moreover, provide a much shorter route between the ports of the east and the west coasts and between those of the north of Europe and the north Atlantic. The canal would thus have the double advantage of serving important strategical and commercial ends, and commercial ends that the traffic returns and the impulse given to the trade of the ports affected by it would more than compensate for the initial capital outlay. Despite these sanguine deductions the scheme, like the Channel Tunnel, has not yet got beyond the stage of discussion, though the arguments in its favour appear to be worthy of serious consideration.

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