Entrance to Grangemouth Docks
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Entrance to Grangemouth Docks

An industrial settlement and port in Falkirk Council area, Grangemouth is situated on the Firth of Forth at its junction with the Grange Burn, River Carron and the eastern end of the 35 mile (56 km) long Forth and Clyde Canal. The Dundas family were central to the foundation of the town. Formerly known as Sealock, Sir Lawrence Dundas (1712-81) developed it as the link between the canal and the River Forth. The completion of the canal in 1790 created a boom in trade with Glasgow in the west and Sir Lawrence's son, Sir Thomas, continued the expansion of the town.

In 1867 Grangemouth received a further boost when the docks and canal were acquired by the Caledonian Railway Company. A large new complex of docks came into operation in 1906 and in 1924 the first deep-water oil jetty was commissioned. In April 1966 the first fully-containerised deep-sea liner service from any UK port was inaugurated here and Grangemouth remains Scotland's largest container port, while also handling oil, forest products, coal, clay, sand, soda ash, bauxite and other bulk loads. The beginnings of the chemicals industry which now predominates in the area came in 1897 with the opening of a large soap and glycerine factory by the Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society. A dye-works followed in 1919, which eventually became part of ICI. Operating since 1924, the Grangemouth Oil Refinery now processes crude oil piped directly from the North Sea oil fields. A whisky blending and bottling facility for Whyte & Mackay replaced the soap factory in 2005. Grangemouth an important logistics centre, with a Rail Freight Terminal and Asda supermarkets operate their Scottish distribution centre from a 46,500 sq m / 500,000 sq. foot warehouse here. Asda's former warehouses on West Mains Industrial Estate continue in use having been sold separately to Whyte & Mackay (2016) and logistics specialist W.H Malcolm (2017).

The town benefits from a heritage centre, a stadium and sports complex, three public parks, several churches and other religious centres, four primary schools and two secondary schools (Grangemouth High School and Carrongrange High School). Grangemouth Museum tells the stories of the making of one of Scotland's earliest planned industrial towns and the building in 1802 of the world's first steamship, the Charlotte Dundas. Also based in Grangemouth is the charity International Rescue Corps, formed in 1981 to provide a worldwide search and rescue capability in the wake of man-made and natural disasters. Despite Grangemouth being an important trans-shipment hub on the rail network, the town lost its passenger service in 1968 and the nearest railway stations are now Falkirk Grahamston and Polmont.

Those born in Grangemouth are known as Portonians and include artist Alan Davie (1920 - 2014), television personality Isla St. Clair (b. 1952), together with musician Robin Guthrie (b. 1962) and singer Liz Fraser (b. 1963), who were two-thirds of the Cocteau Twins. Raised here were broadcaster Kaye Adams (b. 1962) and gymnast Steve Frew (b. 1973).

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