Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift located in Scotland, UK, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, opened in 2002. It is named after the nearby town of Falkirk which is in central Scotland. The two canals were previously connected by a series of 11 locks, but by the 1930s these had fallen into disuse, were filled in and the land built upon.

The plan to regenerate the canals of central Scotland to reconnect Glasgow with Edinburgh was led by British Waterways with support and funding from seven local authorities, the Scottish Enterprise Network, the European Regional Development Fund and the Millennium Commission. It was decided early on to create a dramatic 21st century landmark structure to reconnect the canals, instead of simply recreating the historic lock flight. Designs were submitted for a boat lift to link the canals, with the Falkirk Wheel design winning. As with many Millennium Commission projects the site includes a visitors’ centre containing a shop, café and exhibition centre.

The difference in the levels of the two canals at the wheel is 24 metres (79 ft), roughly equivalent to the height of an eight-storey building. The Union Canal, however, is 11m higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel, and boats must pass through a pair of locks to descend from this canal onto the aqueduct at the top of the wheel. The aqueduct could not have been positioned higher due to conflicts with the historically important Antonine Wall.

The structure is located near the Rough Castle Fort and the closest village is Tamfourhill. On 24 May 2002, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Falkirk Wheel as part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations. The opening had been delayed by a month due to flooding caused by vandals who forced open the Wheel’s gates.

via Falkirk Wheel

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