Despite the construction of the new link to the Forth the growing trade of Glasgow resulted in renewed efforts to deepen the Clyde. A new method was tried which involved the construction of guide walls to assist the natural flow of the river in washing away the sand and silt. This was successful and by 1775 resulted in a channel linking the town to the sea with a depth of 2.1 metres. The introduction of the steam-powered dredger in 1824 resulted in further increases in depth. Ten years later there was 4 metres of water available between Greenock and the Broomielaw. The material dredged from the channel was used to raise the low-lying ground along the riverbanks. This new land provided a solid base for the docks and shipyards developed in later years.
The increased water depth greatly encouraged shipping and, to cope with the increased trade, new facilities were provided within Glasgow Harbour. The original Broomielaw Quay was rebuilt and extended west in 1809 and then still further west in 1832. Cranes were added to help loading and unloading, sheds for the storage of goods were built and lighthouses erected to assist with night-time navigation.
A major impetus to trade was the development of the steamship. After the Comet first sailed from Glasgow in August 1812 a fleet of small steamers was soon established to link the town to harbours throughout the Firth of Clyde, the West Coast and over to Ireland. Before that time the passage of sailing ships along the new navigation channel was assisted by horses. These used a towing path built between Glasgow and Renfrew that remained in use until 1914.
The demand for an efficient way of moving cargo and passengers also resulted in the development of new shipyards and engine works along the Clyde. The first shipyard in the Glasgow area was opened in 1818 on the site now occupied by the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
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