First wave of boats at new pontoon on one of Scotland's oldest inland harbours

The pontoon, at Stirling Harbour, on the city's Shore Road, has been installed by the city council in an bid to make the River Forth a key feature for the city again for the first time since the 1940s.
The pontoon, at Stirling Harbour, on the city's Shore Road, has been installed by the city council in an bid to make the River Forth a key feature for the city again for the first time since the 1940s.
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The first wave of boats have taken to the water at a new pontoon, intended to relaunch one of Scotland's oldest inland harbours.

The pontoon, at Stirling Harbour, on the city's Shore Road, has been installed by the city council in an bid to make the River Forth a key feature for the city again for the first time since the 1940s.

The first boats have arrived.

The first boats have arrived.

In the 16th century, Stirling Harbour it was one of Scotland's most important landing places, alongside Leith and Aberdeen.

During the First and Second World Wars, it thrived again as a gateway for supplies of tea to Scotland.

But the opening of the rival port of Grangemouth downstream and the increasing size of ships - which struggled to get up the serpentine upper reaches of the Forth - meant the town gradually lost its maritime trade.

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In the 16th century, Stirling Harbour it was one of Scotland's most important landing places, alongside Leith and Aberdeen.

In the 16th century, Stirling Harbour it was one of Scotland's most important landing places, alongside Leith and Aberdeen.

The Dutch coaster Henriette, which discharged cargo at Stirling harbour in late August, 1954, is believed to have been among its last commercial visitors.

In 2016, however, the local council and its partners on the Stirling City Commission announced a multi-million pound "vision" to put the harbour back at the centre of Stirling life.

Eventual plans include the development of a river taxi network with stops connecting key sites such as Stirling University, the Wallace Monument, the Forth Valley College Riverside campus, and the Stirling Sports Village and Forthside, a 40-acre hotel and leisure development which has already regenerated part of the riverbank.

The new landing stage is 30 metres long, with an additional five metre section for rowing boats and kayaks.

The 270,000 project cost was met with 153,000 awarded through the Coastal Community Fund and the remainder from the Council Capital allocation.

The 270,000 project cost was met with 153,000 awarded through the Coastal Community Fund and the remainder from the Council Capital allocation.

The state-of-the-art pontoon and access walkway rise and fall with the tide and is designed to be wheelchair compliant.

The site was in such a previous state of disrepair that it had been closed off from public access and the new work was carried out in conjunction with the restoration of the Old Harbour Wall.

Convenor of the Environment and Housing Committee, Councillor Jim Thomson said today: “This pontoon is an important step in bringing about the rejuvenation of the

River Forth and integrating it back into the city again as a key asset.

“Up until the 1940s, ships were a common sight tied to the docks along Shore Road, but the river has been an untapped resource… until now.

“We want to show that Stirling is far more than just our historic castle and this development will make it a massive draw for residents and tourists by offering river trips and creating an alternative gateway into the city for leisure vessels visiting us by river.”

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Vice Convenor Cllr Danny Gibson said: “We are bringing the River Forth back into the heart of the city’s life.

“So many cities around the world make their rivers a focal point for tourists so this pontoon is about making the River Forth a significant natural and cultural asset again.

“This will hugely enhance tourists’ experience of Stirling by providing a new way to enjoy the wealth of historical sites and natural beauty of the area from the river.

“We want access to the river to be the first step for the creation of a River Park through the heart of the city, so this is just the start of the transformation and making the most of our waterfront.”

The £270,000 project cost was met with £153,000 awarded through the Coastal Community Fund and the remainder from the Council Capital allocation.

The Coastal Communities Fund is funded with income from the Crown Estate’s marine assets and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the UK Government and the Scottish Government.

Both recreational and commercial boat operators can now book online via the Council website (www.stirling.gov.uk/pontoon) to gain access to the River Forth.