The Canal

The canal was created in the late 1720s or early 1730s by John Hog, then owner of Cammo estate, and may have been designed and constructed by William Adam, the leading Scottish architect of that time.

Canals were fashionable during the early 18th century, however only a few were created within Scottish gardens. The canal at Cammo is one of only two surviving examples of what was an unusual, but significant, feature of designed landscapes in early 18th century Scotland. It is even more significant, since it is the only canal in Scotland known to have been constructed with an apsidal end at its south-western extremity. The canal served as an ornamental feature which, in winter, could also be used as a curling pond.

The canal is a long thin rectangular shape, 140 metres long and 10 metres broad, running in a NE / SW direction, with its north-east extremity terminating about 50 metres south west of Cammo House. The canal is constructed of puddled clay, and is fed by a stone lined underground channel which links its south-west extremity to the nearby marsh drain.

In the early 1980s a short, flat, depressed stone platform was constructed across the north-east end of the canal in conjunction with the installation of an improved sluice/drainage system. At the same time, the canal was drained and cleaned out, the sediment and spoil being spread over Low Meadow. In the 1990s, due to blockage problems in the drainage system, the canal was often over-full, resulting in water damage to the surface of the stone platform. In 1999, the surface of this platform was re-laid in concrete, after repairs to the drainage system were carried out.

During 2007, conservation work was carried out at the east end of both canal banks to repair many years of erosion adjacent to the concrete platform.

By 2016, the canal had become a lifeless, overgrown, silted-up, debris-strewn, unsightly body of water devoid of any form of aquatic life. In the latter part of that year, the City Council opened up the canal banks by cutting down any poorly-formed and encroaching trees within about 5 metres of the canal edges. In conjunction with this, the canal was drained by the Friends of Cammo, in preparation for the bottom of the canal to be cleared of almost 40 years of silt and debris accumulation.

In January 2017, a mechanical digger began to scoop out about 60 cm of silt and debris from the length of the canal, and this was deposited in the lower part of Low Meadow. During silt removal operations, a bottom drain pipe, sealed by a 15 cm wooden plug, was found close to the sluice arrangement at the eastern end of the canal and, about 15 metres from the western end, a previously unknown concrete boom stretched across the canal from side to side, which was assumed to be a form of silt barrier. At the extreme western end of the canal, the digger removed soil from the collapsed canal bank and exposed the stonework of the apsidal end. In February 2017 the bottom drain pipe was sealed, the canal began to fill naturally through the inflow at the western end, and sluice boards were put in place to control the depth of the canal.

Page last updated: July 2020