click here to return to the Millennium Link Resource Home PageUnion Canal, Falkirk Interchange, & Carron Sea-Lock
May 2001
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The progress of works to rejoin the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals.

With the official opening of the Forth & Clyde canal less than 2 weeks away I took my son to view progress at the Falkirk wheel, and the sea lock near Grangemouth, but our trip started on the Union Canal…

A few hundred metres east of Port Maxwell on the Union Canal is the old entrance to the flight of locks that used to descend to the Forth and Clyde, that the wheel will replace. You can walk the route of the locks, but this blocked entrance is all that remains.

Following the canal east, we passed the impressive boathouse of the Seagull Trust.

Before the canal enters Scotland's first (and only until the Falkirk interchange) canal tunnel.

Over 200 years old, the tunnel is mostly carved from solid rock, with the entrances, and some internal parts re-enforced with stone arches. The towpath runs straight through, so off we went.

The water running down the walls for 200 years has left strange deposits on the walls, and some stalag-tights.

Off to the wheel site, from the south, the aqueduct is taking shape, and some scaffolding is being removed.

The tunnel entrance is having its concrete edges finished, and the circular turning basin between the tunnel and aqueduct is taking shape.

On the north side the concrete support for the wheel are nearing completion, and the cladding on the visitor centre is advanced.

The circular theme is everywhere, even on the back of the visitor centre.

By Mid May the sea lock was supposed to be open to accept boats into the canal for the first coast to coast passage 2 weeks later, but the area was still a building site! This was as close as I could get, about 400m from the sea lock.

A few hundred metres back still and the canal was barely formed. This was taken on the corner where the existing canal route (straight on from this viewpoint) diverts left, parallel to the M9 to the new sea lock. This view shows the layers of the canal, first large stones, then in the foreground fine stones.

200m further west and the fine stones are covered in the waterproof "clay" final lining. I learned later that this section was only completed and watered the day before the first east west sailing on the weekend of the 26th May 2001. There are more pictures on this area of the canal from September 2001.

On the way home we visited the new bridge where the A801 crosses the canal. This is a new road, built after the Canal was closed, the canal was piped under the road. The canal diverts a few metres south to gain the required headroom for the road and a pipe.

A close up of the detailed texturing used on all the new concrete bridges.

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Photographs: James Gentles