The post-medieval period saw a significant expansion in the transport of goods and people by water. In Perth and Kinross much of this activity focused around the River Tay. The 18th and 19th centuries saw the construction of several stone piers in small harbours along the Tay, such as Inchyra (MPK3337), Kingoodie (MPK5107) and Port Allen (MPK4693). These harbours were briefly surveyed in the mid-20th century, but further study would be of interest (Graham 1969). Most of the existing research has focused on stone structures. There is potential for further study of harbour masonry, as well as investigation into the remains of wooden structures, particularly in the intertidal zone of the Tay.
Perth was, and is, the only major port in the region. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Perth’s main harbour was located near what is now the junction of Tay Street and Canal Street (MPK3401). Part of this area was excavated in the 1980s before the construction of new housing (Bowler 2004, 21). During the 1830s and 1840s, a new harbour was constructed a little downriver of Perth at Friarton (MPK3463), which remains in use today. Extensive plans and written records are preserved in the National Library of Scotland and Perth and Kinross Archives regarding its construction.
The 19th and early 20th centuries saw extensive dredging of the River Tay. In the 1840s it was noted that the Tay between Perth and Newburgh had recently been ‘dredged and deepened’ and ‘the banks of the river… in many places excavated and removed’ (Marshall and Adamson 1849, 456–7). This brought significant changes to the layout of the Tay, leading ‘the islands of Sleepless, Darry, and Balhepburn’ to be ‘connected with the mainland by embankments formed of the produce of the dredging’ (Marshall and Adamson 1849, 457). Much of the dredging of the Tay was driven by a wish to make the river more navigable. However, dredging also took place to extract sand and gravel for construction projects in the region, with the main centres for this industry at Perth and Dundee. Further study of the impact of dredging on the River Tay would be beneficial.
The late 19th century was characterised by increasing use of waterways for recreational purposes. Steamers operated on the River Tay and on Loch Tay; the history of steamers on Loch Tay was probably ended by the Second World War. More research into this aspect of the region’s past would be of interest. Additionally, a significant number of small jetties and boathouses were built during the 19th and early 20th centuries for the use of private pleasure boats. These structures have received little study in Perth and Kinross and are often poorly recorded.