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News File

12th August 2001British Waterways AGM reports transforming year in Scotland
25th August 2001Millennium Link Reaches Major Milestone in Wester Hailes
28th August 2001Welcome Aboard at Wester Hailes
28th August 2001Thousands gather to celebrate reconnection of world's first sea-to-sea ship canal
30th August 20012001 – Opening year!
16th March 2001Construction Tops £50 Million
21st November 2000Construction Activity Making Good Progress
24th August 2000Fun Day Celebrations at Broxburn and Ratho
1999-2000Leni Schwendinger - Water above Water
               Environmental Improvements
               Volunteers working hard
               Volunteers Wanted
1st November 1999BBC filming the Link
               More Reading
12th March 1999Secretary of State for Scotland inaugurates work on Scotland’s Millennium Link project.


Scotland’s canals are now delivering real benefits to the Scottish population, with a series of reopenings and restoration activity on the country’s inland waterways underlining the economic and environmental importance of canal regeneration.

This was the message from British Waterways Scotland at the organisation’s second annual meeting in Edinburgh today (Thursday 6th September). At the meeting Jim Stirling, British Waterways Director Scotland, highlighted a series of major achievements over the year, whilst stressing that the restoration of the waterways is only the start of the regeneration process.

The meeting heard that over the course of the year 50,000 people lined the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal to celebrate the reopening of the waterway after a break of almost 40 years, the Crinan Canal celebrated its 200th anniversary and the community in Wester Hailes celebrated the reopening of their stretch of Union Canal in Edinburgh.

During 2001 the world’s first rotating boat lift at Falkirk started to take shape, Neptune’s staircase on the Caledonian Canal was illuminated and responsibility for Scotland’s inland waterways became a devolved matter, with funding for British Waterways’ Scottish activities transferring to the Scottish Executive.

Speaking to more than 100 guests, Jim Stirling said. “This has been a momentous year for Scotland’s waterways and I am delighted that we are now seeing the benefits beginning to flow into the communities who have been so important to the successful regeneration of Scotland’s canal network. Already we have seen the creation of 700 construction jobs as a result of The Millennium Link and I look forward to many more full time positions resulting from this regeneration in the years to come.

“Thanks to a strong partnership approach we are now on course for the opening up of the entire Lowland canal network in Spring next year, which will see the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift, take up its position as one of the UK’s leading tourist attractions.

“On the Crinan Canal the Timberlink programme continues to handle 50,000 tonnes of freight transfer at Ardrishaig Harbour and supports local hauliers with transfer to the Quayside. In addition we have been working with Argyll & Bute Council to create opportunities for New Deal Employees to gain work experience on the canal.

“The Caledonian Canal remains a strong contributor to the Highland economy with waterway activity accounting for 14% of tourism spend in the Great Glen Activity on the water itself is increasing with latest figures showing 4,000 boat movements per annum.”

The past year also saw the creation of the British Waterways Scotland Group, an advisory body set up to work closely with the Scottish Executive and other partners to harness the full potential of the country’s waterways.

Commenting on the past year, Campbell Christie, Chairman of the British Waterways Scotland Group, said: “This has been a busy year for British Waterways. Although it has been a year of celebrations with the reopening of the Forth & Clyde Canal in May and Union Canal through Wester Hailes in August, it has also been a trying year, with the outbreak of Foot & Mouth forcing the closure of towpaths across the country.

“At all times we have worked with our partners to continue our programme of regeneration, with all members of the Scotland Group bringing their vast and diverse experience into play to realise the potential of Scotland’s canals.

“2001 is also the year when the waterways in Scotland became fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament. We welcome the support we have received from Sarah Boyack, Minister for Transport, and her team at the Scottish Executive, and look forward to working even more closely with them in the years ahead.”

Jim Stirling added: “The reopening of the Lowland canal network in Spring 2002 will be a momentous occasion, but we must remember that this is just the start of the process. It is absolutely critical that we continue to work with our partners throughout Scotland to ensure that we keep the ball rolling and continue to deliver further benefits to both urban and rural communities on Scotland’s Lowland and Highland canal network.”

Millennium Link Reaches Major Milestone as Community Welcomes New Canal

Wester Hailes, 25 August 2001.  Hawkeye PhotographWester Hailes, 25 August 2001.  Hawkeye Photograph

The Millennium Link waterway restoration moved a step closer to completion today (Saturday 25th August) with the opening of a new stretch of the Union Canal through Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.

A flotilla of boats, fronted by an eight-foot long wooden dragon and accompanied by music from The Gutty Slippers, led the celebrations as British Waterways Scotland and the local community were joined by Jackie Baillie MSP to celebrate the completion of the latest phase of the ambitious waterway regeneration project across central Scotland.

Support from the Wester Hailes community has been a critical element in the success of The Millennium Link - an initiative which has been part funded with a £32 million lottery grant from the Millennium Commission. Without the continued backing of this and other communities along the length of the canal, the project would have stalled many years ago.

Waterway-focussed regeneration is already delivering economic benefits in other parts of the UK. The Wester Hailes community recognised early on the huge economic, environmental and educational benefits associated with the canal’s restoration - benefits that will flow to the local area with the reopening of the waterway.

Work on the Wester Hailes section of the Union Canal included the construction of 1.7 kilometres of new waterway to replace the original line that was in-filled in the late 60s.

Commenting on the celebrations, Doris Brown, Convenor of the Wester Hailes Community Canal Working Group, said: “This is a great day for everyone in Wester Hailes. The community has been supportive of this project from the very beginning and to see our section of the Union Canal complete is fantastic. I am sure that over the months and years we will see the benefits flowing into our community as more and more activity springs up, not just on the water itself but on the banks of the canal.”

Following the presentation of a plaque to the community on behalf of British Waterways - represented by the organisation’s Chairman, George Greener - the Minister for Social Justice, Jackie Baillie, commented: “The community of Wester Hailes, together with British Waterways and all the partners involved, have put a tremendous amount of work into these improvements which we see today. I am delighted to present this plaque to recognise and value the important role the community played.

“This marks the continuing and sustained regeneration of the area – sustained because the community feel a real sense of ownership. I know that many innovative projects will flow from the opening of the canal in Wester Hailes to further enhance the area, its links with the rest of Edinburgh, and therefore access to more and better economic opportunities.”

Jim Stirling, Director British Waterways Scotland, added: “Simply put we would not be standing here today if it were not for the continued support from communities along the length of the lowland canal corridor.

“Today’s celebrations are a thank you to the Wester Hailes community for their commitment to The Millennium Link and for their patience whilst the works have taken place. We have reached an exciting time in the project with all the hard work of recent years coming to fruition. There is still work to be done but we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and can look forward to the grand reopening of the completed Millennium Link in Spring 2002.”

Lord Dalkeith KBE, Millennium Commissioner sent a message: “We are delighted to see the opening of the Union Canal through Wester Hailes. The enthusiasm and interest of so many local people in one of the most challenging sections of the Millennium Link project has been immensely heartening to all involved. In offering our congratulations we hope they will reap the benefits of environmental improvements and economic regeneration both now and for generations to come.”

As the day of celebrations continued street entertainers and bands entertained the local community while the more adventurous took to the water in canoes or tried their hand at angling. For those seeking more leisurely pursuits there were boat trips running throughout the afternoon, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the canal at first hand.

David Crichton of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, commented: “ The Union Canal was part of the motorway structure of its day, providing an important transport link across the heart of Scotland helping commerce and communities to thrive. Its restoration will also generate renewed educational, environmental and economic benefits for communities along its banks. It is a wonderful asset and has been recognised as such by the Wester Hailes community. The official opening of the new section of the canal is a deserved thank you to the people of Wester Hailes for their support and continued active involvement in the project”

Councillor Brian Fallon, a local Councillor from City of Edinburgh Council added:
“This is a great day for Wester Hailes with a fantastic new community and recreational asset running through the heart of the area.The Council was pleased to contribute to the project and to co-operate in what was a complex development project. The challenge for us all now, community and development partners, is to maximise its potential for local people”.

Gail McAulay of The Waterways Trust Scotland said: “The Waterways Trust Scotland is delighted to see yet another stretch of canal in Scotland open. The community of Wester Hailes have been so important to this project and we hope to be able to keep them involved with the canal by facilitating various volunteer projects along its banks in the future. TWTS are also pleased to have contributed directly to the project in the Wester Hailes area as one of the funders of the new wildlife haven.”

The opening of the Wester Hailes section marks a major milestone in The Millennium Link project. In May this year the first stage of the project was successfully completed when the world’s first sea-to-sea ship canal, the Forth & Clyde, re-opened after a break of almost 40 years.

The Millennium Link has been made possible through a partnership including the Millennium Commission, European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Enterprise Network, seven local authorities, British Waterways and The Waterways Trust Scotland.


The Falkirk Wheel, August 2001The Falkirk Wheel, August 2001

Scotland’s newest tourist attraction, The Falkirk Wheel, reached a major construction milestone in August 2001 as the last of the major sections of the world’s first rotating boat lift was hoisted into position.

A 1000 tonne crane was used to carefully position the two 300 tonne arm sections, 50 tonne axle and two 80 tonne gondolas, into a specially constructed well at the end of a newly constructed aqueduct. The whole process was completed in under a week with the first lift taking place on Friday 17th August.

On Wednesday 22nd August the two massive gondolas were lowered into position giving, for the first time, an outline of the Falkirk Wheel.

The Wheel is the centrepiece of The Millennium Link project that will rejoin Scotland’s lowland canals to create a waterway link between Glasgow and Edinburgh that was broken over 60 years ago. It will replace the original flight of 11 locks that connected the two canals, and was designed by a team of highly specialised engineers.

The Falkirk Wheel will stand 35 metres high when completed and will weigh 1,800 tonnes when filled with water. Two gondolas, each containing approximately 250,000 litres of water, will transfer up to four boats at a time, taking approximately 15 minutes to complete each cycle.

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Welcome Aboard at Wester Hailes

Wester Hailes

To mark the opening of the Wester Hailes section of the Union Canal, British Waterways Scotland and the local community invite you to come along and join the celebrations. There will be street entertainers, bands, pondlife demonstrations and the chance to take part in activities such as canoeing and angling. There will also be boat trips running throughout the afternoon.
The event begins at 10.30am on Saturday 25th August at Calder Crescent in Wester Hailes with a flotilla of boats, led by the marvellous wooden dragon sculpture and accompanied by music from the Gutty Slippers band.

For full programme of events please see below.

Programme of Events – Saturday 25th August

1030hrs Gather at Calder Crescent to mark the opening of the event. There will be a speech by the Chairman of British Waterways and the band ‘Gutty Slippers’ will perform for 10 minutes on the bow of one of the boats.

1040hrs Boats arrive at footbridge and will stop for a few moments, Doris Brown will say a few words and perform a ribbon cutting. The Gutty Slippers will perform on bow of boat.

1050hrs Dragon Sculpture will be left at its resting place in the new pond area.

1055hrs Boats arrive at Community Complex.

1110hrs Minister unveils & presents plaque.

1125hrs Stravaig and Gutty Slippers will perform at Community Complex followed by bands and other acoustic entertainment. Walkabout Street Theatre will perform: Face painting etc.

1215hrs Boats leave the Community Complex for the short trip to bridge at Kingsknowe for ribbon cutting.

1300hrs On canal activity starts at community complex. There are events organised such as: canoeing, boat trips and a pondlife demonstration.

There will be a booking system in place on the day for the on canal activities.

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Lock 16, Falkirk - click for higher resolutionLocks 31 & 32, Blairdardie Glasgow - click for higher resolution
(click pictures for higher resolution)

Over 20,000 people lined the banks of the Forth & Clyde canal at the weekend to watch a spectacular flotilla wind its way across Scotland, marking the historic reconnection of the North Sea to the Atlantic through Scotland’s oldest canal.

To mark the reopening of the 200 year old waterway a flotilla of over 40 boats travelled from Falkirk through to Bowling on the 26th, 27th and 28th May, sparking a series of celebratory events in communities along the length of the canal.

Heading the flotilla was Millie, a spectacular, specially constructed 35ft fish shaped boat, which spouted water at fascinated bystanders on the banks of the canal. In Falkirk over 10,000 people turned out to see the waterway procession with thousands more joining in the fun at Castlecary, Kirkintilloch, Maryhill, Blairdardie, Clydebank and Bowling.

On Saturday a huge children’s parade lined the banks of the canal in sunny Falkirk to wave the flotilla off on its 56 km journey through to the west while on Sunday the sun continued to shine as Millie and thrash ceilidh band Febus entertained the crowds at Kirkintilloch and Maryhill. On Monday the flotilla’s journey continued through Glasgow to Clydebank where the boats were treated to fish and chips at the world’s first sail-by chippie before heading to Bowling and a spectacular fireworks display.

Commenting on the celebrations Jim Stirling, British Waterways’ Director Scotland said; “What a fabulous weekend. We have waited almost forty years to see the reopening of the Forth & Clyde Canal and to see so many people join in the celebrations was just fantastic. Simply put we would not be standing here today if it were not for the support of all the communities along the length of the canal.”

The restoration of the waterway, which was the world’s first sea-to-sea ship canal, marks the completion of the first stage of the £78 million Millennium Link, Europe’s most ambitious canal regeneration project.

The Millennium Link has been made possible through a partnership including the Millennium Commission, European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Enterprise Network, seven local authorities, British Waterways and The Waterways Trust Scotland.

For further information contact Chris Bell on Tel: 01698 543 090, Mobile: 0797 469 2330 or Alison Gilfillan on Tel: 01698 543 090 Mobile: 07780 604 538


“The Scottish Enterprise Network is convinced of the economic benefits which will arise from the Millennium Link project. We have invested heavily in it and recognise the magnificent job which British Waterways has done in managing such a complex engineering project within very tight timescales.

“We are already seeing a significant amount of secondary investment taking place and our role, together with that of the five LECs involved, is to work to ensure that the economic potential created by our joint investment in The Millennium Link is fully realised over the next few years. We are confident that will be and that the opening of the canal to navigation after so many years is just the start of good things to come."

Robert Crawford, Chief Executive
Scottish Enterprise

“The Millennium Link will play a major role in the renaissance of the Falkirk Council area as well as that of Scotland’s great canals. Seeing the Forth & Clyde Canal restored to full working use will be a matter of great pride to the people of this area in whose heritage it has played such an important role.”

Provost Jim Johnston
Falkirk Council

“This is a momentous day in the regeneration of Scotland’s canals with the reopening of the Forth and Clyde Canal to through navigation after nearly forty years.

“Canals have been a much under-utilised resource in recent times and British Waterways Scotland have got a huge task on their hands in bringing the canals up to scratch and encouraging their use.

“I am therefore delighted to announce today an extra £1.5 million grant for BW Scotland in recognition of the financial pressure they face. This funding will be used to help encourage the public to make greater use of our canal network.

“Canals can contribute greatly to Scotland’s urban regeneration and provide new opportunities for recreation and tourism. I encourage all those involved to continue to work together to ensure that the enormous potential of the Millennium Link will be realised.”

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack

"Our research shows that boating and cruising are major growth areas for tourism in Scotland and this project will provide a much needed boost to the facilities available. This project adds an extra dimension to the tourism product in Scotland and one that can only help to attract many more visitors to the country."

Peter McKinlay, Interim Chief Executive
Visitscotland/Scottish Tourist Board

"This is a chance to turn our heritage into our future. The long-term benefits for the area in terms of jobs and the potential for regeneration are huge. The Millennium Link is a major catalyst for economic development and growth in both East and West Dunbartonshire. The project will allow us to regenerate run down sites, attract new business and create jobs across the region. We are already working closely with the local authorities, British Waterways and other partners to make sure this happens.”

Allan McQuade, Director, Competitive Place,
Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire

“I am delighted that the Forth & Clyde canal is springing back to life. For too long, the canal has been Scotland’s biggest backwater. On completion of the full Millennium Link next year Scotland's lowland canal network will forge a renewed link between our two biggest cities, and create a massive opportunity for communities along its banks.

“I am sure Glasgow will benefit greatly from visits by countless yachtsmen and women who will use the canal to get to the wonderful sailing waters on the West Coast of Scotland.”

Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Alex Mosson

“It has been inspiring to be part of this grand vision. Opening up the canals all the way from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth is no mean feat, but by working together we’ve done it.

“For us in SNH it’s been about making the most of a long disused part of our central belt landscape that is teeming with wildlife. Now people can use this ‘green corridor’ to walk, cycle, travel by boat and to see and learn about nature. This can only be good for business, for tourism and for the quality of life of those who live nearby.

“The Millennium Link belongs to the people of Scotland - go and enjoy.”

John Markland
Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)

“The re-opening of the Forth and Clyde Canal will create a wealth of opportunities for both local businesses and the community of Kilsyth.

“North Lanarkshire Council is determined to take full advantage of the opportunities that are presented by the Millennium Link project and the Planning and Environment Department will give serious consideration to canal related proposals.

“North Lanarkshire Council is delighted to play its part in this historic occasion and celebrations to mark the canal’s re-opening have already been planned throughout June in conjunction with the local community.

“The re-opening of the canal is the beginning of a new era which will put Kilsyth firmly on the map. I hope visitors and developers take the opportunity to visit the area and see first hand what Kilsyth has to offer.”

David Porch, Director of Planning and Environment Department
North Lanarkshire Council

"The rejuvenation of Scotland's canal network offers exciting opportunities for the communities of East Dunbartonshire and marks the start of another chapter in the long history of the country's waterways.

"The ambitious Millennium Link project demonstrates what can be achieved by partnership working and I am delighted that it is making such great progress.

"East Dunbartonshire once relied heavily on its canal for industry and transport and we are now being given a chance to expand our leisure and tourism activities around the canals making them places of recreation for local people and visitors alike.

"I am honoured to be a part of these historic celebrations to mark the reopening of the Forth & Clyde Canal."

Provost Robin McSkimming
East Dunbartonshire Council

“Once again residents in the Clydebank area are privileged to be able to observe history in the making. This area has witnessed so many momentous events and here is another unfolding before us - the reinstatement of a link between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.

“This is an exciting development which is expected to create a significant number of employment opportunities and we are delighted to be involved.”

Provost Alastair Macdonald
West Dunbartonshire Council

“The reopening of the Forth & Clyde Canal confirms that Scotland is undergoing a true canal renaissance. The successful restoration of the canal corridor has been achieved through partnership working and it is important that this is continued in the years ahead.

“This is however the beginning of the regeneration programme, not the end. The inland waterways are part of our national fabric. Working in partnership The Waterways Trust Scotland will strive to conserve and protect this asset and to ensure that all sectors of the community derive new benefit and enjoyment from the reopened waterway. The waterways are uniquely inclusive and provide opportunities for everyone. Our aim now is to help provide new facilities for public access, recreation, navigation, education, to support continuing environmental improvement and to secure economic improvement from the newly opened waterway.”

Roger Hanbury, Chief Executive
The Waterways Trust

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2001 – Opening year!

Now entering the final year of construction, The Millennium Link project will soon see the restoration of navigation between the River Forth and the River Clyde, and between the great cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

By February 2001 more than £60m had been spent on construction works. A total of 24 bridges have been constructed and opened to traffic, 2 opening bridges have been re-commissioned, 9 new locks have been built, and over 4km of new canal channel has been formed. Repairs have been carried out to most of the 40 locks and the installation of 34 pairs of new timber lock gates is nearing completion. Major works continue to be carried out in Clydebank, Falkirk, Grangemouth and Edinburgh.

Picture 1, Hawkeye Photography January 2001 - click for higher resolution

 (click pictures for higher resolution)

Picture 2, Hawkeye Photography February 2001 - click for higher resolution

Picture 1 - The construction works at the site of the Falkirk Wheel are forging ahead in anticipation of the start of wheel erection in June. The columns supporting the 100m long aqueduct are complete and the aqueduct channel construction has commenced. The outline shape of the Wheel basin is evident and the structure of the lock into the Forth & Clyde canal is complete. The structure of the 150m long tunnel under the Roman Antonine Wall is complete and is now being fitted out.

Picture 2 – Almost 800m of new canal has been constructed at Grangemouth to allow boats to travel between the existing termination of the Forth & Clyde canal at Ladysmill and the River Carron which joins the River Forth. A new sealock and an inland lock have been constructed and the channel will be watered in spring 2001. The picture shows the new section of channel joining the original canal in the distance, with the inland lock (Lock 3) in the foreground.

In addition to the construction works described above, dredging and towpath improvements continue to be carried out on both the Forth & Clyde and Union canals.

The Forth & Clyde canal is expected to be opened in summer 2001 and the Union canal in late summer 2001. The Falkirk Wheel is expected to be completed by the end of 2001 and opened formally in spring 2002.

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Construction Tops £50 Million

By the end of September more than £50 million had been spent on construction works. A total of 14 bridges have been constructed and trafficked and 18 bridges are under construction, including 2 opening bridges. Nine new locks are under construction and most of the original 40 locks have been refurbished. Major works are being carried out in Clydebank, Glasgow, Kirkintilloch, Castlecary, Falkirk, Grangemouth and Edinburgh.

A80 Castlecary - click for higher resolution

(click pictures for higher resolution)

Union Canal Locks - click for higher resolution

The Falkirk Interchange site continues to see good progress. The breakthrough of the tunnel under the Antonine Wall was achieved on the 10th August 2000 and formation of the canal channel within the tunnel is now well advanced. Work continues on aqueduct, bridge and lock construction on the extension to the Union Canal; piling for the piers of the main aqueduct and Wheel supports has been completed; the Wheel basin is being formed and the lock into the Forth & Clyde Canal is under construction. Erection of the Wheel is due to start in June 2001.

Dredging plant continues to improve navigation in both canals,the Union Canal towpath has been upgraded over most of its length and improvements are now underway to the towpath on the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Next summer will see boats passing through the Forth & Clyde Canal from one side of the country to the other for the first time in more than 30 years.

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Construction Activity Making Good Progress

At the end of March 2000 construction activity on The Millennium Link could be seen across the breadth of Scotland at sites in Clydebank, Glasgow, Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Castlecary, Falkirk, Grangemouth, West Lothian and Edinburgh.


A total of 20 bridges and 5 locks were under construction, repair works were being carried out on existing locks, dredging plant continued to improve navigation, and around 30km of towpath upgrading was nearing completion.

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Fun Day Celebrations at Broxburn and Ratho

Fun Day

In celebration of the completion of the first construction contract, which has allowed boats to navigate under the M8 for the first time, a fun day was held on Sunday 7 May. Hundreds of people watched the boats assemble at Port Buchan in Broxburn before proceeding in convoy to the M8 where a ceremonial 'touching of bows' took place to mark the re-joining of the stretches of the Union canal which had been separated by the M8.

Fun Day

All Fun Day photos courtesy of Guthrie Hutton

On a gloriously sunny day, people lined the route and were joined by walkers, cyclists, wheelchairs and prams. From the M8, the parade of boats into Ratho for the evening celebrations covered more than a mile.

Distance cruising is now a reality, and suddenly new potential is released.

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Leni Schwendinger - Water above Water

New York artist's contribution to Glasgow 1999 year of architecture and design , at Maryhill Locks on the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Leni Schwendinger is an internationally renowned artist based in New York. Her artworks and installations add an artist's contribution to discussions on changing urban environments. She was invited by arts organisation IPA to create; "a new artwork of local, national and international significance to coincide with Glasgow 1999, Year of Architecture and Design".

From the outset she was determined to conduct the debate outside the gallery and outside the city centre " where the people lived ". She felt the fluctuating circumstances of communities in Springburn, Maryhill, Royston and Possil had much to offer a debate on Glasgow's built environment. Often ‘frozen out’ of cultural discussions, events like the year of Architecture and Design provide an important opportunity to draw attention to the aspirations of the City's peripheral communities.

The Year of Architecture and Design and the area's industrial heritage provided the platform and the context to instigate dialogue with the outside world, to discuss local issues by looking outward; further afield.

"My project for IPA and Glasgow 1999 uses a site on Forth & Clyde canal as the starting point to deconstruct north Glasgow's changing built environment, the social issues inextricably linked to18th century urban planning, architecture & civil engineering."

The project culminated in two 'performances' of Water above Water on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 May.

Water above Water created a series of spectacular light installations drawing a local, national and international audience to a 1,000 foot configuration of landmarked locks and aqueducts in Maryhill, north Glasgow.

Entering off the Maryhill Road the viewer was able to survey the landscape. A white-railway fence defines the slope of the Kelvin Valley and the edges of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

As the sun set a myriad of small floating objects become visible. At each canal basin, boat builders young and old are floating their light emitting and reflecting craft. At Basin 4, the junction with the rest of the waterway, a British Waterways craft with illuminated construction glides by.


Descending the Kelvin Walkway path toward the massive aqueduct arches, viewers were drawn to mysterious lighting patterns. Suddenly, the illuminated barge glides by above their heads.

Above ground, at the locks, splashing water rushes through the gates, blocked so that the water level rises to reveal an array of lighting patterns ."

The Forth & Clyde canal formed an important commercial transport corridor across Scotland for nearly two centuries. The canal was victim of the roads culture of the 1960's but the £78 million The Millennium Link project aims to once again provide navigable water linkages between Edinburgh & Glasgow, and their respective Forth and Clyde Rivers.

It was the spirit of renewed optimism created by The Millennium Link plans to reactivate the canal, that attracted Leni Schwendinger to the Maryhill Locks and Kelvin Aqueduct.

Here is a small selection of the many stunning photographs taken at Maryhill Locks and the Kelvin Aqueduct.


For further information on the project and the forthcoming Water above Water website, contact IPA 17 Bernard Street, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6PW

tel. 0131 555 0045 fax 0131 554 1850 e-mail

Leni Schwendinger - Water above Water

Background Information

"Water above water, a road and rail in between" is a literary description of the Maryhill coat-of-arms depicting the Kelvin aqueduct and the Kelvin river below.

The Maryhill canal site reveals a heroic plot, 700 muddy, poverty-stricken workers and tradesmen, huge financial risks - soothed by monies "forfeited" by the Highlanders engaging in the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. The Highland plot-line is revived by late-century intrigues of Highlander deportations via the Kelvin Aqueduct, to this day the site is known locally as the 'Botany'.

Although once famed in the 18th century as an "astonishing" feat of engineering, and as a ship repair hub, few Glaswegians know the Kelvin Lock complex today, and the ones that I spoke to who did considered the area to be derelict and somewhat dangerous.

The Maryhill Locks and the Kelvin Aqueduct, are landmark listed "Ancient Monuments" of Scotland. The series of five locks descend towards the Kelvin Valley, each lock interspaced with an organically shaped oval basin.

The aqueduct was the largest engineering feat of its kind in Britain in 1790 and inspired thousands of visitors -- and even poetry. The system of canals were closed in the 60's and a vibrant canal and barge culture went with it.

The building of the Forth & Clyde canal was the catalyst for the development of the north Glasgow communities attracting business first, then people. Leni's project focuses on the canal at a time when it is once again emerging as a catalyst for the economic regeneration of the area.

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Environmental Improvements

Landscape improvements - training opportunities

A programme for general landscaping works along the length of The Millennium Link, combined with training under Government initiatives like the New Deal, is currently being devised. Working with Scottish Enterprise and its local enterprise companies, British Waterways are focusing on environmental and access improvements.

The aim is "to design landscaping that will give the restored canals visual continuity, while at the same time differentiating between the more industrial nature of the Forth & Clyde and the rural nature of the Union canal.", said Lisa Kilpatrick, the consultant landscape architect. Design work on the towpaths is being carried out in consultation with Historic Scotland and the provision of safety rails between the boats and the towpath as the canal crosses aqueducts is posing interesting questions. In earlier days, simple wooden railings were used, something no longer feasible in these more safety-conscious times.

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Educational activity

Water safety has been the focus of recent educational activity, particularly in the 15 primary schools near the Forth & Clyde Canal. The canal's many potential hazards and activities are the subject of an interactive talk which was developed by British Waterways Ranger, Andy Carroll, Harry Mooney of the Health & Safety Executive for Glasgow and Primary Schools Advisor Eileen McNeil. There are leaflets and videos as follow-up material.

If your school hasn't had a visit yet, do not be concerned. Schools in East Dunbartonshire are next on the list for visits, with Kilsyth and North Lanarkshire following soon thereafter.

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Volunteers working hard

The Linlithgow and Union Canal Society volunteers recently spent a weekend of intensive work, shifting 30 tonnes of stone (with the assistance of their two workboats, the Alex Inglis and the Slateford). Working with the Water Recovery Group and Toc H, they were carrying out repairs to a weir and culvert at Woodcockdale.

Toc H and the Water Recovery Group are back hard at work on the Forth & Clyde Canal, clearing vegetation and rubbish from the old slipway at Kirkintilloch. The workboat they are using, having restored it themselves, was used by the airforce during World War II to transport bombs for loading into aircraft and is said to resemble 'a floating skip'.

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Volunteers Wanted

PICTURE 1Scottish Conservation Projects Trust is always looking for volunteers (singly or in groups) to lend a hand with the many different tasks involved in restoring The Millennium Link canals. Last autumn, for example, SCPT volunteers planted 130 trees and hedges - all native species, such as hawthorn, holly and dog rose - near the Slateford Aqueduct.

Photo: Jolyon Gritten of British Waterways with David and Sean, volunteers from the Prince's Trust Team based at Springboig in Glasgow finishing off a day's work laying setts to form a lock quadrant at Maryhill.

For further information, contact Jolyon Gritten, British Waterways' Coordinator of Voluntary Activities, tel: 0141-332 6936.

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BBC filming the Link

As part of a new schools' series (for P6 and P7 pupils, ages 10-12) on Scotland's waterways, BBC Scotland is filming along the route of The Millennium Link. The 20-minute programmes, part of the Around Scotland series, will be screened from 1 November. Two young presenters will front the series, as they explore the Scottish canals. The first programme will look at the history and development of the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals - the men who built them and their industrial use. The second programme deals with the technology of the canals, including the locks, the bascule bridges and the design and development of the giant wheel at Falkirk within The Millennium Link project itself. Other programmes will focus on the environment, leisure and the future of the reinstated canals in relation to job creation.

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More Reading

A new History of Scotland's Inland Waterways : canals, rivers and lochs by P.J.G. Ransom has just been published by National Museums of Scotland (NMS) Publishing (Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF; 0131-247 4026).

The book is part of a series on Scotland's past and has two chapters on canals, with emphasis on the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. Opening with a quotation from 1904, referring to the luxury of canal transportation as being "quite unrivalled", it refers briefly to The Millennium Link project, and includes many fascinating stories about canal travel in the 19th century.

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Secretary of State for Scotland inaugurates work on Scotland’s £78m The Millennium Link project.

On Friday, 12 March 1999, Rt. Hon. Donald Dewar, MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, inaugurated work on the £78m The Millennium Link project which is being undertaken by British Waterways. The first contract is located at Blairdardie Road in Glasgow where Locks 31 and 32 on the Forth & Clyde Canal, and the associated basin, are being restored and a new bridge is being constructed to carry Great Western Road over the canal. The canal locks and basin were in-filled as part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the area in the 1960s.

The work is being undertaken as a design-build contract by Morrison Construction/Babtie Group.


From left to right: Earl of Dalkeith from the Millennium Commission,
Secretary of State for Scotland Donald Dewar MP, Scottish Director of British Waterways Jim Stirling,
and Chairman of British Waterways Bernard Henderson.


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