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Falkirk Wheel boat lift, Scotland - 11th Sep 2008

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The canal, from Grangemouth to Glasgow, was constructed 1768-77 and from Glasgow to Bowling 1785-90. Just here, the 35 metre drop was joined by a flight of 11 locks that stepped down across a distance of 1.5km. Although the canal accommodated full-masted coastal ship between the North Sea and the Irish Sea, due to disrepair and the decline in traffic, these were dismantled in 1933, breaking the link. This, the world's first and only rotating boat lift, was opened in 2002.

The various parts of The Falkirk Wheel were actually constructed and assembled, like one giant Meccano set, at Butterley Engineering's Steelworks in Derbyshire. A team there carefully assembled the 1,200 tonnes of steel. the structure was then dismantled and transported on 35 lorry loads to Falkirk, before all being bolted back together again on the ground, and finally lifted into position by a crane in five large sections. Because of the immense and constantly changing stresses on the structure, as it turns around the central spine, bolted joints were used rather than the normal welded joints.

It cost £17.5 million and over 1,000 construction staff helped to build it. The gondolas hold 500,000 litres of water, enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool.

My next jigsaw will show a tour boat in one of the gondolas, which is about to reach canal level.

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dondi

Thanks. I wondered what this replaced - or whether the two canals were previously connected. Quite an accomplishment, and a good deal faster and more convenient than 11 locks!

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