Commerce and Industry
The town was a recognised port from the 16th century; a harbour was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1707. The harbour, constructed progressively during the 18th century, was extended and complemented by a dry dock in 1881 (works designed by civil engineers Thomas Meik and Patrick Meik). The commercial port (heavily used for the transport of coal and pit props) eventually closed in 1959, badly affected by silting and the gradual downturn of the Scottish coal mining industry. Plans currently exist for the regeneration of the docks area including reopening the port as a marina.
Bo'ness was a site for coal mining from medieval times. Clay mining was carried out on a smaller scale. The shore was the site of industrial salt making, evaporating seawater over coal fires. The ruins of several fisheries (fish storage houses) along the shoreline evidences long gone commercial fishing activitiy. The town was also home to several sizable potteries, one product being the black "wally dugs" which sat in pairs over many fireplaces. Metalworking is still carried out, and examples of the Bo'ness Iron Company's work are to be found in many places.
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