Monkland Canal Cleanup Project


Completion Date:


Building owner/client:

Stephen McCargo

Architect or lead designer:

Stephen McCargo

Local Authority Area:

North Lanarkshire

Nominating Body:

Friends Of Monklands Canal

Project Description

The Monklands Canal is the oldest canal on the Scottish Canal Network and was at one time the most profitable canal in Scotland. However unfortunately it was left for years to fall into a state of disrepair and was used as a dumping ground for rubbish, The Friends Of Monklands Canal group was set up in 2020 as we couldn’t let this area of historic beauty decline anymore.

We are an environment group that was set up to give the community of Coatbridge a safe environment to spend time outside in the open air in the surroundings and the wildlife that has no costs attached. The main objective of the group was to clean up and help maintain an area of national beauty in Coatbridge, namely the canal waterways, forest areas, walkways and cycle paths, and in doing so help the wellbeing and mental health of its members in the local community. We have a constituted committee made up of the following members:

  • Alan and Liz McCormack
  • Alek and Margaret Niezynski
  • Lisa Dolson
  • Stephen McCargo

Supporting Statement

The group was founded in 2020 and so far, has been able to:

  1. Clean over 3000 bags of historic rubbish from the canals and surrounding forest and walkways. We arranged for all of the rubbish to be collected by NLC refuge collectors so it could be disposed of properly.

  2. Funded and equipped a small community hub container that holds equipment to keep the canal and paths clean.

  3. Lobbied Sustrans & Scottish Canals for two years to upgrade an old path along the side of the canal. The new path was installed in 2022 and connects the NLC residents to the town centre and school children to new schools that have been built in Coatbridge. The path cost in total >£400,000. It is now used also by joggers dog walkers, cyclists and NLC residents with mobility issues.

  4. After consultation with our members, we have installed three new benches along the canal path.

  5. Installed three new bins along the canal that are now emptied weekly, keeping new levels of rubbish to a minimum.

  6. Liaised with local schools doing presentations on the history of the canal and also arranged for classes to come up to the canal to do group litter picks and have environmental chats with them on the importance of reducing waste.

  7. Installed bird and bat boxes on the canal.

  8. Installed a new fence at our headquarters.

  9. Arranged with Scottish canals to complete regular cleaning of the waterways.

  10. Started a social media and photography page with over 3000 members. This page is used daily with members giving updates on any issues on the canal with wildlife, anti-social behaviour, and sporting activities and is used to promote community interaction.

  11. We have been nominated for and won the Scottish Walking Awards and Keep Scotland Beautiful awards.

  12. Started a wild garden and beehive at our headquarters.

  13. Worked with NLC to introduce parking bays on the far side of the canal.

  14. Upgraded stairwells and paths on the canal.

  15. Removed and cut up trees when they fell into the canal.

  16. Supported two local charities, "Shining Stars and Saint Andrews Hospice".

Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, has visited us to congratulate us on our work and we also featured on the "BBC series Scotland From The Skies".

We have come a long way and moving forwards we have plans to upgrade a historic bridge and water pier on the canal.