Stirling plans to use water taxis to reconnect with River Forth

The River Forth looking towards the Wallace Monument. Picture: David Mould
The River Forth looking towards the Wallace Monument. Picture: David Mould
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IT IS the city that slowly turned its back on the river that first made it prosperous.

Now Stirling council has unveiled plans to reconnect the ancient town with the Forth and once again take advantage of its waterfront location.

Stirling town centre gradually turned its back on its harbour following the arrival of the railway and the decline of maritime trade. Picture: Stephen Mansfield

Stirling town centre gradually turned its back on its harbour following the arrival of the railway and the decline of maritime trade. Picture: Stephen Mansfield

Water taxis would link the University of Stirling’s main campus in Bridge of Allan with the city centre, the Wallace Monument and Forth Valley College.

The local authority will also spend £500,000 to restore the city’s Old Harbour and make wider infrastructure improvements along the waterfront as part of its City Deal bid.

New and upgraded foot and cycle paths will also be built along the Forth to encourage more people away from the urban centre and down to the Forth.

Council leader Johanna Boyd said: “Putting the river back at the centre of life in Stirling will have vast potential economic and social benefits. It will improve access to the water and riverbanks, as well as giving locals and visitors a unique experience of Stirling’s iconic attractions and creating a new, connected sense of connectivity of place.

Putting the river back at the centre of life in Stirling will have vast potential economic and social benefits.

Stirling Council leader Johanna Boyd

“Key sites including Stirling University in Bridge of Allan, the Wallace Monument, the Forth Valley College Riverside campus, Stirling Sports Village and Forthside would be linked. The river is a major asset and the regeneration project is about a different of seeing it.

“We’ve been influenced by the way other modern international cities are interacting with and using their rivers, and our plans have been very positively received by communities.”

READ MORE: Glasgow Harbour will bring ‘the West End back to the Clyde’

Stirling was once a bustling port as well as a shipbuilding centre. In the 16th century it was valued as one of Scotland’s most important landing places, alongside Leith and Aberdeen.

But the opening of rival ports downstream such as Grangemouth and the increasing size of ships - which struggled to sail up the narrower reaches of the Forth - meant the town had lost nearly all of its maritime trade by the 1920s.

A meeting of Stirling Town Council in October 1936 laid out plans to revive the harbour, but the onset of war meant they were quietly forgotten.

The area was later redeveloped as a park.

A section of the banking at the Old Harbour collapsed in January this year following weeks of heavy rain.

As part of the council’s plans, a barrage will be installed to allow the river’s water levels and quality to be controlled.

This will mitigate flooding and open access to the river, and enhance the biodiversity of the river and riverbanks.

READ MORE: Volunteers sought to greet tourists at Stirling’s Wallace Monument