Organised by the Lowland Canals Volunteer
Group (LCVG) with support from Scottish Canals, Wheel
10 also marked the tenth anniversary of the completion of the
£83.5m Lottery funded Millennium Link Project.
The Millennium Link Project to reopen the two Lowland canals, the
Forth & Clyde (the world's first man-made sea to sea canal) and
Union and connect them through The Falkirk Wheel, remains the
largest canal restoration project in the UK to date.
The Princess Royal unveiled 'Blossom', a commemorative artwork
designed by schools within the seven local authority areas along
the Millennium Link, to launch Wheel 10.
Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Housing and Transport, and Mike
Cantlay, Chair of VisitScotland, also attended the launch. The
tenth anniversary celebrations follow Mr Brown's announcement on
Monday 2nd July that Scottish Canals is now a wholly Scottish
A flotilla of 60 vessels featuring traditional narrowboats,
yachts, motorboats and small steam boats and including Scotland's
second oldest passenger boat, the Ratho Princess (1923), gathered
to welcome The Princess Royal.
The Wheel 10 flotilla remained at The Falkirk Wheel on Saturday
7th July when it was the heart of a large, free, public
Over the past decade, The Falkirk Wheel has become an
internationally recognised icon of modern engineering and design
and, to help mark the occasion, Isobel Pollack, President of the
Institution of Mechanical Engineers, awarded The Falkirk Wheel one
of the Institute's coveted Heritage Awards.
Speaking at the launch, Transport Minister Keith Brown
"The Falkirk Wheel is an internationally recognised icon and one
which showcases the strength of our country's engineering and
design talent. I am delighted to help mark its 10th anniversary and
to recognise the transformation which has taken place on our
waterways over the past 15 years.
"Canals are of social and economic importance to Scotland. They
provide fabulous transport, leisure and tourism potential - The
Falkirk Wheel alone attracts 400,000 visitors every year and
supports local 150 jobs. Our canals also deliver significant
regeneration opportunities with no better example than the Helix
project which will transform 300 hectares of vacant land between
Falkirk and Grangemouth and which has attracted Big Lottery Funding
totalling £25 million. I look forward to seeing Scottish Canals
continue the good work in the years to come."
Jon Hargreaves, Chair, Scottish Canals,
"It is wonderful to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal
to The Falkirk Wheel today to launch the official Wheel 10
"When planning the Millennium Link, we wanted an extraordinary
design which could become an icon affirming that the 18th century
canals are back and have an important role to play in the 21st
"We couldn't have expected what a great success the world's only
rotating boatlift would become as a functioning part of the canals,
a much loved community amenity and a leading visitor
"The Falkirk Wheel has made a great contribution to the image of
Scotland and is now an intrinsic part of the Lowland canals and a
perfect symbol of their renaissance and the broad economic, social
and environmental public value they together deliver."
Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland,
"The Falkirk Wheel is very close to my heart. I was Chair of the
Forth Valley Enterprise when we recognised the tourism potential of
the canal and the need to win Millennium funding to create a truly
spectacular new visitor attraction. The Falkirk Wheel has become an
icon. It is one of Scotland's success stories and, in the Winning
Years, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Scottish tourism. I am
delighted to congratulate the Falkirk Wheel on its tenth
anniversary. I know people from all over the world will be flocking
to it for many years, indeed generations to come."
The Falkirk Wheel has also become one of Scotland's leading
visitor attractions welcoming some 400,000 visitors each
Over 4.4m people have visited the 35 metre high boatlift to date
and 1.3m people have enjoyed a boat trip on the Wheel.
The Wheel has also become an important part of the local economy
supporting 150 jobs in the Summer season and 50 during
The reopened Lowland canals, which are Scheduled Ancient
Monuments, have also become a successful catalyst for economic
development, regeneration and tourism as well as a vibrant resource
for heritage, biodiversity, education and active living.
Since 2000, the reopened Lowland canals have stimulated an
estimated £400m in private investment and helped create 2,000 new
housing units and 106,787 square metres of new employment
Current partnership initiatives along the combined 70 miles of
waterway include projects to revitalise the Falkirk to Grangemouth
corridor with Falkirk Council (including the £43m Helix
project which will include an improved eastern gateway to the
Forth & Clyde Canal and the 30 metre high Kelpie sculptures)
and the Edinburgh Canal
Strategy alongside City of Edinburgh Council.
In Glasgow, the ten year, £180million Glasgow Canal Regeneration
Project in partnership with Glasgow City Council is also well
underway. This includes the two masterplans for Speirs Locks and Maryhill
Locks which were given 'exemplary' status in the Scottish
Government's Scottish Sustainable Communities Initiative. Speirs
Locks is now home to a flourishing new creative quarter and major
new housing development is under construction at Maryhill
Around 20 million visits are made to the Lowland canals
Over £4million has been invested by partners, including Scottish
Government and Sustrans, the national sustainable
transport charity, in upgrading the towpaths for the growing number
of tourists, runners, walkers and cyclists using them.
Recent research shows that the Lowland canals also contribute an
estimated £7m in savings for local health services by encouraging
people, including those who don't already exercise, to use the
towpath for fitness, leisure and commuting to work.
The Lowland Canals Volunteer Group which organised the Wheel 10
celebrations represents the canal societies, charities and social
enterprises which together engage some 40,000 people each year with
the Lowland canals.
'Blossom' - The Wheel 10 Commemorative Artwork
Primary schools in the seven local authority areas along the
Millennium Link were invited to help design this artwork to
commemorate the tenth anniversary.
The P7 pupils came to workshops with artists Merlin Currie and
Anett Forsyth which were held at The Falkirk Wheel and designed a
roundel or disc interpreting what their stretch of canal means to
them. Official ceremonies took place in each local area as
schoolchildren handed their roundel to one of the boats in the
Wheel 10 flotilla as it travelled towards the Wheel.
'Blossom' will be on permanent display at The Falkirk Wheel.
Notes to Editors:
The Falkirk Wheel - Ancient and Modern
- The Falkirk Wheel is a complex yet simple and elegant
engineering solution, combining the principles set out by
Archimedes in 300BC with 20th century electronic and electrical
- There are two, 250 tonne gondolas (filled with 50 tonnes of
water and boats). When one gondola is lowered, the opposite one
rises. The vast, 1800 tonne boatlift moves boats 35 metres into the
air in a matter of minutes.
- The prime mechanism is a series of ten hydraulic motors which
rotate the axle and a series of interconnected cogs.
- The real secret of the boatlift's smooth and economic operation
though is to ensure that both loaded gondolas are in perfect
balance. Indeed, the Wheel can only turn safely and successfully
when there is an equal weight of boats and water in each gondola.
The weight in the gondolas adheres to Archimedes Principle of
- A sophisticated network of water level sensors and water
control systems monitor any variables which might affect this
delicate balance such as the water levels in the aqueduct or at the
locks at the entry points to the Wheel.
- This system enables The Falkirk Wheel to rotate with minimal
power consumption and optimum energy efficiency.
- Remarkably, because of the design and application of balance
and weight, it takes just 22.5kW - the same power as it would to
boil six domestic kettles - to turn a half rotation.
Construction - Fast Facts
- The Falkirk Wheel was built between 2000 and 2002 on the site
of a former tar works, some 3km from the original connecting flight
- Over 35 lorry loads delivered the structure from a Derbyshire
steelworks. Due to the scale and complexity of the project, the 30
major wheel sections were pre-assembled at the steelworks then
bolted together on site prior to lifting into position. The
attention to detail meant that the one week erection programme was
completed a day early.
- Components were generally aligned to an accuracy of 10mm with
the long axle sections aligned to just 1mm.
- As the Wheel turns, stresses imposed on the structure by the
combined 600 tonne weight of water filled gondolas changes
completely in direction. Instead of using normal welded joints,
steel sections were instead bolted together to make them more
robust to resist fatigue induced stresses. As many as 15,000 bolts
were mated painstakingly to 45,000 bolt holes.
The Scottish Canals - Fast Facts
- The canal network in Scotland handles over 200,000 tonnes of
freight annually and over a three year period up to 2011, removed
over 2 million lorry miles from Scotland's roads
- There are 22 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) within
500 metres of Scotland's canals
- Scottish Canals with over 90 buildings cared for, is one of the
largest owners of listed buildings in Scotland. With 78, it is also
in the top ten in scheduled monuments owned
- In 2010, there were almost 20 million visits to Scotland's
Lowland canals. An increase of 85% on the figure for 2006
- It is estimated that 2,129 full time equivalent posts are
created across Scotland through towpath use and boating