Grangemouth boat fight builds up steam

How the Charlotte Dundas attraction could look
How the Charlotte Dundas attraction could look

Plans to create an exciting visitor attraction around Grangemouth’s historic Charlotte Dundas paddle steamer have been drawn up.

Now the recently constituted Friends of the Charlotte Dundas group is looking for a location and some funding to make its dreams for the replica of the world’s first practical steamship come true.

Various groups and enthusiasts have tried for a number of years to bring the vessel, currently in storage in Arbroath, back to the area without success.

Ken Hutton, of Friends of the Charlotte Dundas, said: “The siting of the reconstructed Spitfire has finally acknowledged the importance of Grangemouth as the site of the Central Scotland aerodrome.

“However, little has been done to recognise Grangemouth’s maritime history and it is deeply distressing to find an almost total absence of recognition for an item of world importance like the Charlotte Dundas.”

In 2006 the replica vessel, created in the 1980s, was moved from the Falkirk Wheel to a boatyard in Arbroath.

Mr Hutton said: “The vessel is owned by Falkirk Council and discussions with them are ongoing. Unfortunately, it is in a state of extreme disrepair and urgent action is required.”

The friends group had hoped the vessel could be incorporated into the plans for either the Helix Canal Basin Extension or the Helix Park but, unfortunately, after discussions with Falkirk Community Trust, their proposal was rejected.

Mr Hutton said: “They said it was not in keeping with the Helix Park vision, but we feel the exhibit would be an opportunity for the Trust to complement the Helix and Canal extension area with a real new and distinctive visual attraction for visitors, particularly those interested in the heritage of the area, the Industrial Revolution or visiting the Falkirk Wheel.”

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