Sunday, February 14, 2010

Falkirk Wheel

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Located between Camelon and Bonnybridge, 2 miles (3 km) west of Falkirk, the Falkirk Wheel is the world's only rotating boat-lift and was built to transfer boats between the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. Opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II during her Jubilee tour of Scotland (2002), the wheel is 35m (115 feet) in diameter and is the centre-piece of the £78 million Millennium Link project, which has seen both canals restored and reopened for use.

A spectacular and stylish feat of engineering, the Falkirk Wheel comprises two counter-balanced tanks capable of moving 300 tonnes each (at least eight boats and the water in which they float) from one canal to the other, in approximately 15 minutes. It cost £17 million and occupies the site of an abandoned open-cast mine.

A 1¼ mile (2 km) extension to the existing Union canal has been built, including a tunnel under the Antonine Wall, two aqueducts, three locks and a railway bridge. This replaced a long-demolished series of locks and a dock, which once linked the canals some ¾ mile (1.2 km) to the east at Port Downie in Camelon.

A visitor centre includes displays of the construction and operation of the wheel.



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