Falkirk Wheel

NGR NS851801


The Falkirk Wheel is the world's only rotating boatlift and is used to connect the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland.

It was designed to replace a series of lock gates built in the 19th Century - long since demolished and replaced by housing.

The Falkirk Wheel - the only rotating boatlift in the world - is the linchpin of the £78m Millennium Canal Link project designed to link the Union and Forth and Clyde canals. The Forth & Clyde was opened in 1773 and extended from Grangemouth on the River Forth, to Bowling on the River Clyde. The Union (or Edinburgh & Glasgow Union) canal was opened much later in 1822 and operated from Edinburgh to Falkirk with a series of locks connecting the two canals at Port Downie in Camelon. These were demolished years ago and for decades there has been no through traffic on the canals. Now the Millennium Link will restore the connection between Scotland's two largest cities and help rejuvenate the whole of central Scotland. The project is the largest canal restoration in Britainís history and links the East and West coasts of Scotland with fully navigable waterways for the first time in over 35 years. When originally completed in 1773, the Forth and Clyde canal was the first sea-to-sea ship canal in the world. The connection of the Falkirk Wheel to the Union canal will restore the waterway between the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The development has great economic and leisure potential. It is forecast that the project will help to create 4,000 new full-time jobs in Central Scotland. The project will enhance many of the tourist attractions along the span of its canals and towpaths. Development around the Wheel included building an aqueduct and a tunnel - the first canal tunnel to be built in Britain for over 100 years. This was necessary to protect valued woodland and the scheduled monument of the Antonine Wall and the main Glasgow - Edinburgh railway line some 50 feet above. The 100 metre-long aqueduct extends from the tunnel and towers above a basin into which boats will travel via the Falkirk Wheel. At each end of the 115 foot Wheel are caissons able to lift 300 tonnes of boat and water, and the trip between basin and aqueduct will take approximately 15 minutes. The basin will is more than 300 feet wide with moorings for at least 20 boats. Alongside there is a large visitorís centre with a glass frontage that will overlook the Wheel and basin and a boardwalk to watch in awe as the Wheel rotates. As well as reconnecting the two canals at Falkirk, the project involves a new link to the River Carron at the Sea Lock in Grangemouth and the removal of 33 obstructions. The dredging of severely contaminated sections of the Union canal, renovating old locks and bridges, repairing banks and improving towpaths have all been necessary to bring the 110km of canal and towpath back to life

The Modern Lift

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