This is a rotating boat hoist designed to lift boats 79 feet from the Forth and Clyde Canal via an aqueduct to a canal basin and two further locks to the Union Canal. The 18th century saw Falkirk at the heart of the industrial revolution in central Scotland and at the forefront of new canal construction. The Forth and Clyde Canal was opened in 1790 to join the east coast to the west coast and in 1822 the Union Canal was built to complete a spur right into the centre of Edinburgh. Where the two canals met at Falkirk a system of 11 locks was built for canal traffic to navigate the difference in height of 115 feet between the levels of the two waterways. This series of locks last used in 1902 fell into disrepair and were filled in by the early 1930s. A regeneration programme to breathe new life into the canals and link the waterways once more for traffic and leisure activities resulted in the innovative design of the Falkirk Wheel. Opened in 2002 this towering structure is a focal point in a newly created canal basin and visitor centre where visitors can enjoy the experience of being hoisted by boat from one level to another or merely watch this feat of engineering in action.
A longer version of this article which includes the nearby Antonine Roman Wall can be found at http://www.squidoo.com/wheels-and-walls-in-falkirk