Regeneration at North Glasgow’s ‘The Claypits’

Client: Scottish Canals

Project value: £7.6 M

Location: North Glasgow

Timeframe: October 2018 to August 2021

Key project features:

Design and build sliding pedestrian bridge
Environmental protection and habitat improvements
5m deep coffer dam sheet piling works within the canal infrastructure
Coordination and installation of multi-utilities
High quality hard landscaping
Planting of a 10000m2 of new wildflower meadow, 200 new mature trees of native varieties and 9000 new saplings
Foul, surface and land drainage
Serviced pontoons
Canal wall repairs
Extensive access infrastructure

The background

Originally the home of a clay quarry used when the Forth & Clyde Canal was first built in the late 1700s, it was also the site of a foundry, glassworks and boat-building yard. These industries are long gone but the historic canal buildings, the oldest in Scotland, still dot the banks. The Claypits is a beautiful greenspace in the heart of the city. Roe deer roam the reserve and many bird species can be found, from peregrine falcons to whitethroat warblers and a host of waterfowl – even the elusive water rail. In surrounding communities, For the 75,000 people who live within a 20-minute walk (or just a few minutes’ cycle) of The Claypits, it’s an important place to explore nature by boot or bike.

The challenge

Economic decline has led to the majority of neighbourhoods in the North of Glasgow falling within some of the most deprived in Scotland with a very low quality of living and worrying health statistics. It was outlined in the 2015 Canal Action Partnership that there was a need for improved active travel routes to encourage walking and cycling and the opportunity to develop the canal area between Applecross basin and Firhill basin. Falling within this area, was the potential to develop the Claypits area into a Local Nature Reserve that would link the local canal communities of Firhill, Woodside and Hamiltonhill, to an attractive greenspace area that could be utilised for multiple health, social, environmental and cultural benefits.

The solution

Pre-planning for the works commenced late 2018 with LUC developing the master plan spanning an area of 17 hectares. General site clearance to allow for the construction works started in February 2019 with the first stages of the project – the construction of a sliding pedestrian bridge starting in August 2019.


Design and build sliding pedestrian bridge

Garscube Bridge was built by Mackenzie Construction following design collaboration between Scottish Canals and Mackenzie Construction who were supported by Mayflower Engineering, Allen Gordon Civil Engineers, and Fairfield Control Systems. A preliminary proposal was prepared by LDN Architects, LUC and David Narro Associates.

The large construction project required coordination with boat users and the general public on this busy section of an inner city stretch of canal. Construction started with a 6m deep cofferdam with built in balance pipes to maintain existing water flows which were critical to maintain water levels within the canal network.

Mackenzie Construction coordinated and installed the new infrastructure for the bridge which had to be transported from Applecross Street over 1.5km away. A reinforced concrete foundation and supporting pillars were cased in-situ with 115m3 of concrete poured to form the 600mm thick continuous slab. The bridge decks were built off site and lifted into position. The bridge has sliding decks that can be operated and monitored remotely to allow boats to pass with new approach paths and a wide level deck to promote access for all. The Garscube Bridge is linked via a 750m long path, to the Panmure Gate. The Panmure Gate, also constructed during the project is an elevated metal walkway and a 100m long timber boardwalk. The new bridge and link will provide residents with access to nature within the city and the sustainable transport network along the canal.


Environmental protection and habitat improvements

Mackenzie Construction carried out zonal working to ensure there was no contamination from invasive species throughout the site and throughout the project the removal of existing habitats was minimised wherever possible. To improve habitats for local birds and wildlife, a 30,000m2 wildflower meadow was planted along with 700 trees and 1500 saplings.


High quality hard landscaping

New entrance ways and pathways created to Sustrans standard were introduced to the area to promote active travel for walkers, wheelers and cyclists. This links the Claypits to the towpath network and the wider National Cycle Network. Various structures to promote active travel and leisure activities such as fishing were also constructed including boardwalks, floating pontoons and raised metal gantries and bridges. Disabled access fishing pegs were also installed to promote access for all.


Coordination and installation of multi-service utilities

There were utility services installed throughout the site to allow for future development of leisure facilities and to support Scottish Canals ‘Living on Water’ initiative. This aims to provide high-quality moorings to encourage more people to live on the water and create waterside communities.


Foul, surface and land drainage

This project was run concurrently alongside other canal regeneration projects and sections of the canal in this area were integrated into the North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System – Glasgow’s Smart Canal. This drainage system is alerted in advance of heavy rainfall and the canal is automatically lowered to prevent risk of flooding.

New swales and urban SUDS were also installed throughout the site.


Canal wall repairs

Throughout the project there were numerous areas along the canal that saw embankment and wall repairs to further accommodate living on water and dredging activities.


The Claypits was formally opened to the public in July 2021 with a community-focused event to mark the occasion involving paddleboarding, kayaking, tree planting, live music, guided walks, and a formal opening ceremony.

It will support the health and wellbeing of local disadvantaged communities by improving access to an under utilised green space and encouraging activity through walking, cycling and play. It will be an important semi-natural green space for 75,000 local residents that live within 20 minutes walk of the site. The Claypits also hosts significant wildlife populations, including roe deer, peregrine falcons, whitethroat warblers, water rail, moths and butterflies.

The project features new footpaths and cycle paths, bridges and boardwalks, viewpoints, play and activity components, and woodland planting. It has also incorporated significant SUDS and utility infrastructure to help support development of housing in adjacent communities including residential moorings on the canal.

The Claypits regeneration project has provided facilities for many local community clubs to meet at and enjoy including the Hamilton Claypits LNR group, Claypits Youth Artists, Glasgow Kayak Club and various fishing clubs.

The project has received widespread attention and praise from local communities, community groups, national press, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government.