Taking time to remember a disaster on a Scottish canal that claimed 85 lives exactly 210 years ago

It was one of the most shocking disasters in Scotland, and one which a group of historians refuse to forget.

The Paisley Canal tragedy of November 10, 1810, claimed 85 lives of men, women and children.

On Tuesday, exactly 210 years later, Renfrewshire Provost Lorraine Cameron led the tributes.

A wreath was laid near the former basin, close to the original Paisley Canal railway station, which is now Telfords restaurant.

Les Fernie, of Walking Tours on Wheels, has paid his respects for the past 27 years.

The group was joined by David Roy, of Paisley Darkside History and Tours.

Les said: “The memorial was fittingly sombre, as you would expect, to mark one of Paisley’s most awful disasters.

“We were delighted Provost Cameron came to pay her respects to mark another decade since it happened.

“Renfrewshire Council supplied the wreath, which the provost laid at the nearest spot to where it happened.”

(Image: Andrew Neil)

The Paisley Canal Disaster happened a week after a horse-drawn barge service was launched between Paisley and ­Johnstone.

The 85 victims, most of them children, drowned when the Countess Of Eglinton pleasure boat, which had arrived from Glasgow, capsized just yards from the landing spot.

It tipped over as children heading to Johnstone had jumped aboard, throwing more than 100 people into the water.

Although the canal basin was only 6ft deep, it had steep sides and few people could swim. Some became trapped under the flat bottomed barge.

The canal to Johnstone and Ardrossan was replaced by the railway – now also shut – though a section near the former Ferguslie mills remains filled with water and can still be seen off Station Road.

Other sections have now become marsh areas filled with shrubs, but can still be made out as a canal.

Les said: “It was a horrific day and something I have marked every November 10 for 27 years.

“I just feel it is so important that it is never forgotten, in memory of all those souls who lost their lives.

“Adults jumped in to try and save the children, others fell in, and many were overcome.

“Most of them could not swim, and the winter clothing they had on was very heavy, making them sink.”

Daily Record – Paisley