In 1791 the Earl Of Eglinton formed a company to build a canal from Glasgow to Ardrossan. Almost 20 years later, in 1810 the section between Paisley and Johnstone was completed and was duly opened on the 6th November that year with the launch of The Countess of Eglinton.
However, only 4 days later, on Saturday, 10th November 1810, disaster struck on Martinmas Fair Day holiday.
That fateful day being a holiday, a large number of families decided to take a trip on the newly opened canal. As the Countess of Eglinton barge returned from Johnstone to the Paisley canal basin with a full complement of passengers, large numbers attempted to board before the passengers from Johnstone had a chance to disembark. This led the boat to become top-heavy and it capsized, throwing the passengers into the water.