The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is located near the city of Falkirk (thanks to it, it got its name). This super-weapon is unique in its kind.

The initial data was as follows. Since quite a long time, two channels have existed not far from each other. One was from Edinburgh to Falkirk, the other from Glasgow to the River Fos, there were about three kilometers between their nearest points. And there was an urgent need to connect the two most important Scottish cities. Which was done — a system of 11 locks was built, since the height difference was 35 meters. Everything is fine — but only the passage of these three kilometers of locks took ships as much as 9 hours.

In the 30s of the twentieth century, the channels were decommissioned and filled in.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

In 1998, it was decided to launch the Millennium Link, a project to resume navigation on the canals of Scotland, connecting Glasgow with Edinburgh. Instead of restoring the old cumbersome engineering system, a project in the style of the XXI century was proposed.

Numerous options were considered — from a giant ferris wheel to turning platforms.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

In 1998, the Scottish government approved the fantastic Millennium Link project in order to solve the practical task of speeding up Scottish navigation at the same time with the enthusiasm of the new Millennium. And, having spent 84.5 million pounds, we built such a ship lift, which is now not only used for its intended purpose, but has also become another attraction in Scotland. 

It is written about it in all guidebooks, a cruise on the lake with ascent and descent attracts tourists from all over the world. Some of the locks were still left, and in the place where the Falkirk Wheel was built, the height of the drop is 24 meters (like an eight-story house).

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

It was not completed by the millennium, and the opening was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth in 2002. The Queen was present at the opening on May 24, 2002, and she also cut the ribbon.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

In addition to the wheel itself, a visitor center, a new section of the canal, two aqueducts, three locks, a tunnel, a railway bridge and a Ruslov reservoir were built.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The name "Falkirk Wheel" is not accidental, because the ship lift looks like two irregularly shaped wheels connected to each other (it resembles a Celtic axe). In diameter, two huge buckets are located opposite each other-one opposite the " upper "channel, the other is at the level of the"lower" one. Boats enter both buckets, which need to continue sailing in the next channel, that is, the first needs to "go from the upper to the lower", the second vice versa. 

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The weight of both buckets is leveled with the help of water, then additional water is added to the upper bucket-and it falls down under gravity. It turns out a super example for schoolchildren, how physics (mechanics) works. As a result, additional electrical energy is spent on turning such a huge machine just like boiling eight kettles with water.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The entire Falkirk wheel has a height of 35 meters, weight-1800 tons. It is very interesting to watch the rotation of the wheel. It looks like a ferris wheel, on opposite points of which two caissons are attached, one is located above the other. 

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

A pleasure boat can swim into each caisson. The wheel begins to rotate slowly and makes a 180-degree rotation, as a result of which the upper caisson is at the bottom, and the lower one, respectively, at the top. After that, the locks open, and the pleasure boats continue their journey.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

Then the wheel is waiting for the next pleasure boats, and the procedure continues.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The crucial stage of the lift operation is the docking of the trays with the lower and upper channels. When the chute is joined, the tightly closed sluice gates open, which makes it possible to make the water level in the tray and the channel the same. Then the ship can freely go through the channel. This is the first and so far the only rotating ship lift in the world.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The wheel rotation time is about 5 minutes. Agree, much faster than 3.5 hours. The question arises: how much energy does it take to raise or lower an entire ship? 

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

It turns out that only 1.5 kW, about the same amount of electricity will be needed to boil eight home electric kettles. This is because the weight of both caissons is always the same. They balance each other, and the engine needs little energy when rotating.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

But how can both caissons weigh the same if one of them has only water, and the other also has a ship? The answer is simple. We recall the school physics course and Archimedes ' law. The ship, swimming into the caisson, displaces from it exactly as much water as it weighs itself. Thus, the weight of the caissons, even with the ship, even without it, is always the same and for the rotation of such an impressive mechanism, an electric drive of very small capacity is required — about 20 kW. The authors of the project give a guarantee for the engineering design of 120 years.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

And now some numbers. Each caisson holds 360 thousand liters of water, has a length of 21.33 meters, a width of 6 meters. Vessels sailing into the caisson must have the appropriate overall dimensions, a displacement of no more than 200 thousand liters, a height above the water of up to 2.74 meters, a landing below the water of no more than 1.37 meters.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The lift is designed for vessels weighing from 50 to 600 tons, so, to the delight of tourists, it is mainly used by pleasure boats. There are cruises that last an hour, and at the same time the boats turn twice on the wheel, as they go back and forth. In warm weather, you can lie down on a fairly large lawn in front of the wheel and admire this whopper. In January, the wheel is closed.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

A serious problem arose during the construction of the aqueduct connecting the Union Canal with the Falkirk Wheel. The remains of the so-called Antonin Wall have been preserved on this site. The wall, whose construction began in 142 during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, runs through the entire central part of Scotland to the mouth of the River Clyde. As a result of various consultations, it was decided to build a channel under the wall. The construction of the 145-meter tunnel was carried out with great care, so as not to damage the ancient monument.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The project received an award from the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland, which is not surprising, since this miracle of modern engineering attracts the attention of not only Britons, but also tourists from all over the world. With the appearance of this extraordinary structure, Scotland has undoubtedly gained another national symbol.

Enterprising Scots have managed to turn a giant hydraulic structure into a light show.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The wheel "turns" about once an hour. If you arrived a little earlier — you can wait nearby, there is the Falkirk Wheel Construction Museum and a cafe. You can take part in a cruise on the lake, which are organized here, in the tourist center. A visit to the Falkirk wheel can be interesting for a child over seven years old. If you have very young children with you, then they will not be bored waiting for the "turn" — for them there is a children's play area with its own mini-channel.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

How to get to the Falkirk Wheel, you can see on the official website. Here you will find all the necessary information for planning a trip (description, driving directions, schedule of pleasure boats). You can also book a boat cruise in advance on the website. Falkirk Wheel is located about 30 kilometers from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. You can take the train to Falkirk Grahamston or Falkirk High Station. From the stop located next to both stations, the Red Line bus No. 3 runs to the wheel every 15 minutes. The bus runs less often on Sundays.

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique rotating structure that lifts entire ships

Keywords: Europe | Ships | Scotland | Design and architecture | Canal | Lift

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