They Paved Paradise.
It’s not what you’d expect and it certainly was not what I expected it to be either; I didn’t do any research, favouring surprise over fore-knowledge of a place that is often mentioned but not yet visited. Much like a literary classic, I suppose, that sits on the shelf for years and soon becomes ignored until the day when it simply falls into your hand. Well, it was that close and quite simply could not be ignored.
The Falkirk Wheel is a monumental piece of engineering – a rotating boat lift that since 2002 has reconnected the Forth & Clyde Canal (below) and the Union Canal (above), the first time since the 1930s. The site itself is one of the most staggering pleasures to the eyes but I have to say, that turning the whole place into a theme-park doesn’t lend well to the sheer awe of it all. Certainly, it will draw huge income and just as likely, it makes life a little tricky for any photo-enthusiast (ie: moi!) to make images of the prime attraction – the wheel itself. Nonetheless, without wishing to sound like an affiliate to the Scottish Tourist Board (or an anti-affiliate at that) for anyone who is interested in the waterways of Scotland, or anywhere for that matter, or engineering – this thing is a must see.
It works on the principle of Archimedes theory of displacement (that a body immersed in water displaces its own weight in water) thus, each of the two gondolas contains 250 tonnes (250,000 litres) of water without a boat within, or the same weight when containing a vessel. This means that enough electricity to boil a few kettles is required to get the wheel turning before the balance of the two gondolas (180 degrees from each other) keep the wheel turning in perfect balance with each other. It’s all extremely simply yet, ridiculously clever.
Here, I have done my best to capture some of the essence of the Wheel whilst sticking to the idea of conscious exclusion, (in other words, without the pedalos, ice-cream stalls, crowds and, bouncy castles, for instance). I do hope you’ll enjoy this first instalment.
[All images: Fujifilm X100 Internal 720nm IR – 35mm Equiv.]