George McBurnie, Scottish Canals

George McBurnie, Project Manager, Engineering, Scottish Canals

McBurnie, GeorgeI have been very fortunate and privileged to have been actively involved in the regeneration of the canals of Scotland by playing a role in some of the major canal projects in recent times.

I was involved in the Caledoinan Lock stabilisation projects with £20 million of Scottish Government investment over 10 years to keep the Caledonian locks safe and operational and to continue as a tourist attraction and destination. My role in the lock repairs was Project Engineer for the last two stages in the programme stages 9 and 10. I was responsible for the day to day management onsite of the contractors, project finance, value engineering to try and gain cost savings, health and safety etc.

I was involved as above for the Crinan Canal lock repair programme. Scope of works and role the same as the Caledonian locks.

I was very privileged to be part of the Millennium link project £84 million over three years to re-open the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals to navigation sea to sea and coast to coast.

As a project manager my role was the refurbishment of original historic structures e.g locks, bridges, weirs, culverts to ensure they could function as designed in a fully operational canal. Once completed I moved as project manager to put Union Canal back through Wester Hailes in Edinburgh. This was all new build –  1.7km of new canal channel construction, seven new highway bridges, three new footbridges, new canal towpath etc.

My last major project was Helix. I was Scottish Canals Project Manager and was based onsite with the principal contractor Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering to ensure the building of the new canal section, new sea lock at Dalgrain, new Kelpie lock, new lift bridge on Glensburgh road . the building of the Kelpie foundations was under our contract. I was very fortunate to be onsite for the building of the Kelpies and watch their progression to completion.

Union Canal, Safety Gates – Turning Back the Clock

The Union Canal is approximately 52 km in length, was built as a contour canal, following the 240 feet (73 m) contour throughout its length, thereby avoiding the delay due to locks, at the expense of some prodigious civil engineering structures. It was originally 32 miles in length, running to Port Hopetoun basin in Edinburgh from the junction at Falkirk but was extended at the Falkirk end in 2001 as part of the Millennium Link project to reopen the Forth & Clyde and Union Canal.

The primary object of this navigation was to effect an inland communication between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow; to the former of which it must be essentially serviceable, in consequence of the increased facilities afforded to the transit of lime, coal, stone, &c. which abound in its course.

The engineers of the day recognised a need to provide provision to maintain the canal channel and react to structure failures in particular earth embankments.

Over the total length of the Union Canal bridge locations were selected where passive, single leaf, timber gates could be installed to locally close and dewater the canal without the need to import damming materials.

Of a total of 62 masonry arch bridges 19 were selected for timber gates.

Scottish Canals have two timber bridge hole gates made to the original design and dimensions as installed between 1818 and 1822.

The gates will be installed at two historic gate bridge locations at Linlithgow, West Lothian and will be used for future maintenance and emergency response.

twitter-logo @scottishcanals



YouTube-Logo scottishcanals

Theme sponsored by


Download the programme Download the app