Site Specifics: The Falkirk Wheel
- Kirstin Innes
- 25 June 2009
Occupation? The world’s only rotating boatlift. There are two canals which run through Falkirk but don’t connect, see? The Wheel lifts boats from one to the other. And commemorates the millennium. Aye, nine years ago it was millenniums as far as the eye could see round these parts. Now there’s a big, ole functional sculpture in the way.
Really? Not just a ‘wheel’, then? Not one at all, with its big, jaggedy, futuristic, sci-fi shape. Think tubes with teeth.
How does it work? On the same energy as six toasters, apparently! It’s officially a marvel of engineering. Remember the Archimedes principle of displacement from physics lessons? The mass of the boat sailing into the gondola will displace an exactly proportional volume of water so that the final combination of ‘boat plus water’ balances the original total mass. Up swings the boat! Obviously!
Beg pardon? Okay. Know how when you get in the bath and the water rises? It’s something to do with that.
Eureka! What else is there to do there? It’s a favourite site for amateur photographers and boyracers alike, cos it just looks so weird. You can get married on it, or have your works’ night out looking over the Forth Valley, wondering when all this will be yours. Kids can cavort in an actual Irn-Bru-themed play area, and there’s a market every Sunday for your buy-low-sell-high needs.
Is there a café? Have soup and watch the boats go up and down. It’s quite lulling, and the Wheel looks mighty from below.
How do I get there? Walkable from Falkirk High train station (if you’re fit). Or else just sail your canal-boat there, posho. www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk has all the info.