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Forth and Clyde and Union Ship Canals, UK

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series book series (EESS)


These busy canals in Central Scotland cross each other, the levels differing by 34 m.

The canals had been originally linked by 11 locks over a 1.5-km distance but these were dismantled in 1933. It was therefore considered to again link the two canals and a unique lift was devised, now known as the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first canal rotating boat-lift.

The Falkirk Wheel is located close to the Roman Fort at Rough Castle and to the best preserved section of the 55-km-long Antonine’s Wall. Two boat “gondolas” on the end of curving arms balance each other so that the half rotation to change canal levels takes about 15 min with the minimum of energy. The gondolas can take eight or more boats.

At the beginning of each cycle, each gondola will be at the level of one of the canals while boats enter and leave. The motors then turn the precisely balanced wheels through 180° and when each has come to rest the boats will be let out at the other canal level.

The process is aided by...

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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Herschy, R.W. (2012). Forth and Clyde and Union Ship Canals, UK. In: Bengtsson, L., Herschy, R.W., Fairbridge, R.W. (eds) Encyclopedia of Lakes and Reservoirs. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Dordrecht.

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