The Falkirk Wheel – Two Canals Circuit


The Falkirk Wheel – the world’s first and only rotating boat lift.

Since the opening in 2002, the Falkirk Wheel became undoubtedly one of the most important thing, that happened in the region. It is located near the town Falkirk in Central Scotland. The Falkirk Wheel connects Forth & Clyde Canal and Union Canal, providing a corridor of regenerative activity through central Scotland.

The original concept of a wheel is set back to 19th century but it started to be a solution for Falkirk only in 1994. Dundee Architects, Nicoll Russel Studios presented a Ferris Wheel type design, that was used to secure a project called Millennium Link.

In the beginning of the construction, there was one serious problem, that had to be overcome. Forth & Clyde Canal lay 35 meters (115 ft) below the level of the Union Canal. The British Waterways (now Scottish Canals) came up with very visionary solution. The world’s first and only rotating boat lift – the Falkirk Wheel as we know it now. But how does the Falkirk Wheel really works?

Each boat enters the Roughcastle tunnel to the Union Canal. The upper gondola is lowered with water that they float in, to the basin below. At the same time, an equal weight rises up, lifted in the other gondolaEach gondola runs on small wheels that fit into a single curved rail fixed on the inner edge of the opening on each arm. In theory, this should be sufficient to ensure that they always remain horizontal, but any friction or sudden movement could cause the gondola to stick or tilt. To ensure that this could never happen and that the water and boats always remain perfectly level throughout the whole cycle, a series of linked cogs acts as a back up. At each end are two, in diameter 8 meter cogs, to which one end of each gondola is attached. 



Falkirk wheel


Falkirk wheel at night.

The wheel is closed down for approximately three weeks each year for essential maintenance routines on major components, such as pumps and valves. During shutdown, engineers are able to thoroughly examine the wheel and inspect the structure and make any necessary improvements. It is a definitely great place to visit. 


[sc:end t=”The Falkirk Wheel – Two Canals Circuit “]

Michaela Miklusak

Michaela Miklusak is deputy editor of and big technology enthusiast. Michaela now lives in Singapore, where she studies System Engineering and Informatics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *