The opening of the Forth and Clyde canal at Bowling in 1790 increased the number of vessels passing through the small village on their way to Glasgow. The first shipbuilding name in Bowling is that of Thomas MacGill originally from Glasgow, he rented the Graving dock in 1800, for which he paid £25 in the first year. Thomas and two of his sons built vessels at Bowling until 1843 when the yard was forced to close due to an extension of the Forth and Clyde Canal basin. In 1834 George Mills and Charles Wood entered into partnership, opening a shipyard at Littlemill in Bowling at the other end of the bay to Thomas MacGill. This partnership did not last long as Charles Wood left to set up a shipyard in Dumbarton on his own. In 1840/1 George Mills retired from shipbuilding and the shipyard closed.
In 1851 a new partnership was formed at Bowling between Thomas MacGills two sons, David and Thomas, and James Scott, whose father owned land at Littlemill. The company was known as Scott & MacGill. The shipyard was located on ground known as Frisky Hall Orchard; the small shipyard built wooden sailing vessels and in 1874 built its first iron vessel. In 1876 Thomas MacGill retired from the firm leaving James Scott on his own, the name of the company was changed to Scott and Company. A partnership was formed in 1892 between James Scott and his two sons, Charles Wood Scott and James Scott Junior, the firms name was changed again to Scott and Sons. The firm continued to prosper well into the twentieth century building in excess of 450 vessels. In 1958 the firm became a limited company on the retrial of James W. Scott, trading under the name Scott Sons (Bowling) Limited. In 1965, the company was taken over by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited of Greenock. In 1979 the decision was taken to close the shipbuilding yard, the last vessel to leave the yard was the Laggan built for the Forth Tugs Limited of Grangemouth.