PLANS by none other than famous Scottish inventor James Watt came close to turning Cambus into a major port some 250 years ago.

The fascinating story was revealed in a book published this month by Wee County author Drew Jamieson, who looked into the history of what could have become Cambus Canal.

A chapter in the book, titled Tullibody and Cambus: From Croft to Commuter Community, sheds light on a project proposed by the iconic Watt, famous for his steam engine and canal designs among numerous other inventions.

While it is a quiet village nowadays, Cambus used to be an active port some 250 years ago, ideally placed where the River Devon joins the Forth.

According to the book, James Watt proposed the creation of an "ambitious system of inland navigation" in early 1774 to move coal all the way from the Devon Valley to Gartmore near Aberfoyle.

The waterway, which would have been built during what has been dubbed "the era of canals", was also to have a branch down to Cambus for coal exports.

"Canals were in fashion", wrote the author.

"The overall plan was to create a canal down the Devon Valley, from Rackmill, near Dollar, down to Tullibody Old Bridge.

"From there the main canal would head west to enter the tidal part of the Forth at Manor, below Stirling.

"Boat traffic would then navigate the tidal part of the Forth as far as Craigforth at Stirling before entering the non-tidal River Forth up to Gartmore and the Goodie water up to near Thornhill."

A branch canal was to lead south to Cambus from Tullibody Old Bridge.

Coal from the Devon Valley was transported along the famous old waggonway overland to Alloa at the time.

Transport by water was a cheaper alternative back then.

The mines could have cut their costs, while Cambus could have generated more income from tolls and harbour dues.

If the proposals had come to fruition, Cambus could have had a competitive edge over Alloa.

Mr Jamieson wrote: "But that advantage may not have lasted.

"By 1831, the railways were coming and beginning to offer competition to canals and, by 1867, both the Monklands Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal were purchased by the Caledonian Railway Company.

"With the arrival of the railway in Cambus in 1852, the port went into decline and with changes in the economy, its industries changed.

"But Cambus may have had a different future if a long-forgotten project of 1774 had been adopted and followed through."

The full story of the Cambus Canal, as well as much more, is contained in the book Tullibody and Cambus: From Croft to Commuter Community, available from Amazon.