click here to return to the Millennium Link Resource Home PageThe Falkirk Wheel & Union Canal extension
December 2000
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The progress of works to rejoin the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals.

The Union Canal ends abruptly at Port Maxwell south of Falkirk. The entry to 11 locks that dropped the canal down to the Forth and Clyde Canal 500m east of Port Maxwell were removed in the 1930s, you can walk the route but nothing remains of them. The new link between the canals is completely different, and is shown in the diagrammatic map. The electricity pylon line shown on the map crossing the canal is no longer there (or has been moved)

The imaginative plans to re-join the canals starts 100m east of Port Maxwell.

Port Maxwell is on the left (temporary spoil is partially blocking it). The new canal strikes NW (right of the picture) straight into an aqueduct over an unclassified road (NS865794).

The canal then contours west for 1Km, the shape of the canal is formed, but it has not been fully watered.

At the end of this new canal two new locks drop the height significantly into a large basin sunk into the surrounding ground (NS854795). The two locks have their walls formed, and the basin is dug, and partially lined.

From the basin the canal heads north, quickly crossing under the main Glasgow - Edinburgh railway line.

The canal immediately goes into the new tunnel, the portal is under the grassy bank to the left of the railway line. The tunnel is "through", and is now being fitted out. You cannot see "into" the tunnel yet as both ends are still in the construction site.

The tunnel heads north under the B816 and Antonine Wall (NS854797). It is about 150m long, and emerges on the north facing hillside above the Forth & Clyde Canal, about 500m south of it.

Exiting the tunnel the canal appears to be heading NNW, to the point where the canal crosses the railway at NS853803 500m away.

On its route north it is first on a built up bank, then on an aqueduct, before entering the "Wheel" itself to be dropped to the large circular basin. The three bright areas are lights on the scaffolding surrounding the aqueduct and wheel supports that are being built.

Finally a lock joins the basin to the Forth and Clyde canal, which has been de-watered for this work. The concrete walls are complete. The scaffolding belongs to the supports for the Wheel on the other side of the basin.

This construction is near the lock between the new basin and the Forth & Clyde Canal, I don't know what it is.

In this view you can just see the top of the north portal of the tunnel (Above the smallest diameter black pipes. The portal has a square sign pinned to the top of it). The scaffolding round at least 4 of the aqueduct and wheel supports that are taking shape can be seen to the left of the yellow container. The support with the most lights on it is at full height with a distinctive semi-circular top. (The drained Forth & Clyde Canal is in the foreground).

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Photographs: James Gentles