As 2021 is Scotland’s second Year of Coasts and Waters, for February’s Document of the Month, we are highlighting the beautiful glass plate positive images we have of Stirling’s Harbour are, taken by the photographic studio of Ramsay’s of Bridge of Allan, sometime around 1890.
It is likely that Stirling had a harbour at Riverside from the earliest times. There are certainly references to it around the time of the incorporation of the Burgh in the twelfth century and to the need for its upkeep in the Stirling Town Council minutes on a regular basis through the centuries.
The harbour was a busy one, with trade vessels docking there from northern England and other parts of Scotland as well as from Europe and further afield on a routine basis, bringing imported goods into the country and taking the produce of Scotland to its customers in other nations.
There were also popular passenger services. There was a regular service from Stirling to Leith, which would have been quicker than other methods of transport in the days before the railways came to the area. Pleasure steamers also plied their trade along the Forth, taking boatloads of people on leisure excursions all along the coast. The paddle steamers The Stirling Castle and The Edinburgh Castle, were two of the vessels that took paying customers on day cruises along the river.
The pier at the harbour was demolished in March 1952 as it had become unsafe. The last ship to dock at Stirling Harbour was a vessel bringing fertiliser to Scotland from Europe at the behest of Gray’s and McEwans, two Stirling retailers, in 1953.
The harbour has recently been restored and a new pontoon installed to make it ready for a revival of passenger services along the Forth once that becomes possible again.