The Lock Keeper ~ Muirtown Locks

The Caledonian Canal connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast near Fort William. The canal was constructed in the early nineteenth century by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford and opened in 1822.

Muirtown Locks are a set of four locks on the Caledonian Canal. The locks are a way of raising or lowering boats between stretches of the canal at different levels.

The current swing bridge seen in the photo below was built in 1935 to replace the original bridge built in 1816.

The locks are in the Muitown area of Inverness and were once operated and home to one of our ancestors James Bain (1811-1874).


Muirtown Locks (2016) including the more recent swing bridge

The first record of James Bain as Lock Keeper at Muirtown Locks was in the 1861 census when he is shown with his wife Margaret McDonald and family.

On James’ death in 1874 his address is listed as Ivy Cottage, Muirtown Locks.

His son James took over as the lock keeper and the family group remained at Ivy Cottage until at least 1895 when Margaret’s death certificate confirmed residence here.

This shows at least a 30 year connection with the Muirtown Locks and Ivy Cottage.

At the bottom of Muirtown locks, to the east of the Caledonian Canal stand these two adjoined one and a half storey Gothic Revival cottages built of red sandstone under a gabled slate roof.  The buildings relationship with the canal suggests that it was built as a pair of lock keepers cottages but it does not appear upon the 1821 or 1832 maps of Inverness suggesting it may have been a later addition to the canal. By 1875 however the cottages are visible upon the OS map in their present plan form


On a recent trip to Inverness we dropped past Muirtown Locks and Ivy Cottage and I am disappointed to say it is in need of a bit of TLC, but at least it is still standing!

Ivy Cottage Muirtown Locks 2016

Ivy Cottage, Muirtown Locks, 2016

In more recent times, Ivy Cottage was run as a pub called the Caley Inn, however that has been closed for a few years and the property is now boarded up and falling into disrepair.

If you want to look at older images of the cottage in better state of repair, check out the Canmore website which images and information in relation to the Locks and Ivy Cottage.




6 responses to “The Lock Keeper ~ Muirtown Locks

  1. Pingback: The lock keeper’s role — Donald and the Weasels | Our Scottish Clan·

    • I started to look into it. I think a property developer owns it now so the lack of development its probably down to planning permission or money or it could be something to do with Scottish Canals because its on the canal. I will need to dig deeper, will keep you updated if I find out more.


  2. Pingback: John Bain 1865 – 1942 | Our Scottish Clan·

  3. Pingback: James Bain 1811 – 1874 – Our Scottish Clan·

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