Crossmill Dam, Scotland

Enhance the Levern Water by eliminating the last remaining barrier to migratory fish, fostering a historic return of Atlantic salmon spawning.


The project is located in Barrhead, a small town in East Renfrewshire, Scotland, thirteen kilometres southwest of Glasgow City, with a population of approximately 18,000. 

The Levern Water rises in the Long Loch and flows through the towns of Neilston and Barrhead for 9 miles (14 km) until it meets the White Cart River in Glasgow. 

The river facilitated the socio-economic growth of East Renfrewshire by providing waterpower for cotton and paper mills during the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the watercourse was heavily modified.  

Crossmill Weir was constructed before 1864 to power Crossmill Print Works.  The small dam spans approximately 10.5m across the river, with a 1.9m drop from the weir crest to the downstream riverbed.  Crossmill Print Works is long gone, and the weir is now the last remaining barrier to migratory fish on the Levern Water. 

At a glance

Project typeDam removal (demolition)
Project statusLive
Removal dateOctober 2023
RiverLevern Water
Km opened4
Focal speciesAtlantic salmon

Project context and opportunity

This project is part of a wider programme of environmental regeneration and river restoration work to create an attractive green corridor connecting the small town of Barrhead to the city of Glasgow and to restore the Levern Water to pre-Industrial conditions. 

It involves the removal of a small dam or weir and is the final phase of works to open the river to migratory fish and improve the physical condition and ecological status of the water course.   

The first phase of this environmental regeneration and river restoration project, completed in 2022 at a cost of £2.7M, opened up 1km of good quality fish habitat upstream and transformed an area of vacant and derelict land into a community park.   

The Clyde River Foundation, a research organisation that has periodically carried out fish population and distribution surveys on the Levern Water for a number of years, has data to demonstrate that salmonids can be found up to the Crossmill Weir but not upstream.  

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has identified the condition and ecology of this river as POOR and committed funding and staff resources to this project to improve the river habitat. 

Feasibility and research studies demonstrate that the removal of Crossmill Weir will open up over 4km of good quality habitat to migratory fish and restore the physical condition and ecological status of the watercourse from POOR to GOOD. 

In addition to the positive ecological and environmental benefits of the weir removal, the project will also have a positive impact on the local community.  The first phase of river restoration work ignited public interest in the river and provided the opportunity to re-tell the forgotten history of the Levern Water.  Local school children researched the historical significance of the river and created an art trail celebrating the river’s role in the town’s history.  Community consultation highlights that local people are enthusiastic about the prospect of removing another dam to further open up their watercourse for migratory fish. 

Further information on the first phase of the project can be found here.

Project aims

This dam removal project will deliver the following outcomes: 

  • Salmonids, including Atlantic salmon, spawning above the dam for the first time since the Industrial Revolution
  • Reduction of upstream sediment deposition, which will improve water quality, flood risk and the aesthetic appearance of the watercourse 
  • Improvement of river classification from POOR to GOOD status – a national priority 
  • Igniting community interest in and appreciation for the heritage and ecological importance of the river and wildlife 
  • Opportunity to reconnect people with a river running through an urban environment with the potential to have a positive impact on their health, well-being and pride in their natural and built heritage 
  • Opportunity for members of the local community and school children to learn about the river and fish ecology through educational outreach programmes 
  • Provide evidence and material for encouraging other river restoration and dam removal projects elsewhere in Scotland.