Reinventing the Wheel

British Waterways unveiled the thrilling centrepiece of The Millennium Link canal project in December 1999 – the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift.

As much a sculpture for the 21st Century as a feat of engineering, the Falkirk Wheel combines state-of-the art engineering, traditional Scottish imagery and marine architecture. Four years in the planning, the Wheel is a collaboration between some of the UK's brightest architects and engineers, and is already being hailed as a future international landmark.

Designed to reconnect the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Wheel is the symbol of the £78 million The Millennium Link, the largest UK canal restoration ever and a national landmark project supported by £32 million from the Millennium Commission.

Situated in a natural amphitheatre outside Falkirk, Scotland, the remarkable Wheel is more than just a boat lift. As working art it will be a celebration of the age and a monument to the future.

The Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland says of the scheme:- "There has been a definite attempt to design the Wheel for the 21st Century. This design is considered to be a form of contemporary sculpture.

The combination of cultural and technical factors adds considerably to the effectiveness of the overall concept and has resulted in a truly exciting solution."

Day visitors will be able to experience the thrill of The Wheel from special "trip" boats at the site. On land, a new visitor centre will provide the most sensational vantage point from which to view the Wheel in action.

Led by British Waterways, the scheme combines the international experience of joint-venture contractor Morrison-Bachy-Soletanche with leading specialists from Ove Arup Consultants, Butterley Engineering and Scotland-based architects RMJM. In addition to the Wheel, the site includes the construction of a new section of canal, two aqueducts, three locks, a tunnel, a railway bridge and a canal basin. Construction work began in summer 2000 and will be completed in December 2001.


Wheel Facts & Figures

There is a video presentation of the Falkirk Wheel in action, which is not available on-line.

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