Friday, 16 May 2008


The other Millennium Wheel

Forget the one down south. This is the more impressive Millennium Wheel.

The Falkirk Wheel is British engineering at its best. Preposterous, provocative, ingenious, striking and elegant. From afar it looks like a child's toy. It's only when you get close that you appreciate how graceful it is.


If you can't quite see what happens, it might help to know this is a boat lift - a modern canal lock. A barge moves into the chamber at the bottom of the structure, then the front part rotates (it's already rotated about ten degrees in this picture), swapping the positions of the top and bottom chambers. Once at the top the barge moves forwards out of the chamber, onto the aqueduct and away.

Because it's balanced, the entire structure takes just 18kW to operate, lifts boats 20 metres in 15 minutes and loses only a cupful of water per turn. Apparently the old lock staircase took hours to traverse.

We drove for seven hours today. It feels as if we've our destination is a different millennium.

Posted by pab at 21:41 | Comments will be back later in the year. Please email me instead!