The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in central Scotland, connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The lift is named after Falkirk, the town in which it is located.
The world’s only rotating boat lift, The Falkirk Wheel links the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal 35 metres above, allowing vessels to sail through the sky thanks to a unique fusion of art and engineering – and the same power it would take to boil eight kettles.
Transforming the contaminated site of a former tar works, The Falkirk Wheel opened in 2002 and replaced a flight of 11 locks that once stepped the Union Canal down to the level of the Forth & Clyde, more than 100 feet below. Whereas weary travellers once had a day’s heavy work opening and closing 44 lock gates to complete the journey between the two canals, The Falkirk Wheel allows vessels to transit between the two waterways in just a few minutes.
Now one of Scotland’s busiest tourist attractions, The Falkirk Wheel attracts around 500,000 visitors each year. The Wheel has transformed Falkirk into a key tourism destination, with visitors traveling from all over the world to marvel at the working sculpture which combines modern engineering and technology with ancient principles set out by Archimedes more than 2000 years ago.
When one of the structure’s gondolas is lowered, the opposite one rises, keeping the vast, 1800 tonne boat lift in perfect balance as it carries canal barges 35 metres into the air in a matter of minutes. Incredibly, the structure uses just 1.5kWh for each rotation.
According to scottishcanals.co.uk