Falkirk Wheel - rocketdog2

In the pre-railway era the Central Belt of Scotland had two main canals. The Forth and Clyde Canal allowed ships to sail between the Clyde at Glasgow to the Forth at Grangemouth. The second main canal, the Union Canal, started in Edinburgh and followed a contour at 73m above sea level to Falkirk. At Falkirk the two canals were linked together by a ladder of 11 locks that allowed boats on the Forth and Clyde Canal to climb the 35m to the level of the Union Canal. These canals eventually went the way of most of Britain's canals, and the lines of both were cut by road building and housing development following their closure in 1965. The late 1990s saw a resurgence of interest in the use of canals. And so was born the idea of the "Millennium Link", the complete refurbishment of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal. By far the largest single element was how to bring the two canals together. The site of the original flight of 11 locks had been redeveloped, and while 11 locks might have been an acceptable solution for professional boatmen in the early 1800s, it was hardly likely to be attractive to the leisure sailors of today. The solution is the Falkirk Wheel. Boats approaching from the higher Union Canal now use a new length of waterway before descending through two locks. They then progress through a new 168m long tunnel that emerges at the start of a 104m concrete aqueduct. The far end of this opens directly into the upper of the two "gondolas" of the Falkirk Wheel. The wheel then rotates, and having descended, what is now the lower gondola opens out into a 100m circular basin. One final lock at the far end of the basin lowers boats to the level of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Likewise, boats traveling east to Edinburgh go into the wheel at the bottom and are transported up to the Union canal. This is what I have pictures of. Anyone interested in the fascinating physics behind the wheel can Google Falkirk Wheel.


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