IT IS HARD to imagine now, but Glasgow’s canal was originally planned to carry ships bringing international goods to the city.

The problem in creating a deep enough waterway for this to happen was that the route went three miles north of the city - which did not suit Glasgow traders.

In 1768, it was agreed to make the Forth and Clyde canal deeper, making it more convincing as a ship canal. A link to Hamiltonhill overcame the objections of the city to the original plan.

Glasgow had changed since the plans had begun. The city had grown and become more prosperous, and the Clyde had been deepened so that ships could sail from Glasgow itself.

Glasgow no longer needed the canal to reach the Clyde, but it was required to allow more trade with the rest of Scotland.

Glasgow Times: Forth and Clyde Canal

Hamiltonhill was not large enough, and by 1790 a branch was cut from there to a new basin at Hundred-acre-hill above Glasgow.

The terminus established around the canal basin was named Port Dundas in honour of Sir Lawrence Dundas, the Governor of the Forth & Clyde Navigation Co.

Glasgow Times: Port Dundas 1829

The basins at Port Dundas rapidly became busy and, on completion of its link to the Monkland canal in 1793, constructed principally to bring cheap Lanarkshire coal into the city, the area became even busier.

Glasgow Times: A view of the Pinkston cooling tower from the city centre

This area was outside the city boundary when the canal was built, but was annexed by Glasgow in 1843, and rapidly developed as an industrial centre. It became Glasgow’s most important port, until the river Clyde was deepened, with industries such as engineering, distilling and chemicals being established in the district.

James Pagan (1811 – 1870), a Scottish reporter and managing editor for our sister title the Glasgow Herald, and a noted antiquarian, was impressed by what he saw.

In 1849, he wrote: “On these few acres have been established factories, colour works, chemical works, dye works, grinding works, mills for logwood, dye and bread stuffs, foundries, machine shops, potteries, and soap works - presenting a view of manufacturing and curious industry which must be unparalleled in any other city of the world.”

Less convincing was the suggestion that one benefit of the site’s elevated position was that all the airborne pollution produced by these factories would blow away.

In reality, smoke and fumes poured out of Port Dundas chimneys and power stations.

In 1859, a brick chimney was built at Port Dundas for F Townsend at the Crawford Street Chemical Works. It was the tallest chimney in the world at the time, eclipsing nearby St Rollox Work’s Tennant’s Stalk. On its completion, the public were invited to take a view from the top.

Glasgow Times: Crawford Street Chemical WorksCrawford Street Chemical Works (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

It ceased to be the tallest in the world in 1885. The chimney was demolished in 1927 and the works closed in 1964.

In 1872, Alex Cross & Son Ltd, chemical manufacturers, established a chemical works  at Port Dundas. The works were chiefly devoted to the production of various chemical fertilisers. Though comparatively small in area when inaugurated, these works developed with remarkable rapidity, and were among the largest in the kingdom, covering nearly six acres of ground.

The plant contained two exceptionally large sets of improved acid plant, each complete with towers, and three large ranges of furnaces and leaden chambers capable of producing around 18,000 tons of sulphuric acid per annum.

Opening in 1901, the coal fired Pinkston Power Station was built at Port Dundas to generate electricity for Glasgow's electric tram fleet.

It was believed to be Europe's largest power station. It was linked by underground cables to five sub-stations located across Glasgow. A large cooling tower was added in 1954 and was the largest in Europe at the time.

Pinkston was linked by underground cables to a distribution system which included five sub-stations located across Glasgow. After passing to the South of Scotland Electricity Board in 1958, it was decommissioned in the 1960s, with the cooling tower being demolished in 1977.

By the late 1960s many of the industries in Port Dundas had declined, the original basin was drained and the M8 motorway constructed.