The world’s only rotating boat lift, The Falkirk Wheel links the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal 35 metres above, allowing vessels to sail through the sky thanks to a unique fusion of art and engineering – and the same power it would take to boil eight kettles.

Transforming the contaminated site of a former tar works, The Falkirk Wheel opened in 2002 and replaced a flight of 11 locks that once stepped the Union Canal down to the level of the Forth & Clyde, more than 100 feet below. Whereas weary travellers once had a day’s heavy work opening and closing 44 lock gates to complete the journey between the two canals, The Falkirk Wheel allows vessels to transit between the two waterways in just a few minutes.

Now one of Scotland’s busiest tourist attractions, The Falkirk Wheel attracts around 500,000 visitors each year. The Wheel has transformed Falkirk into a key tourism destination, with visitors traveling from all over the world to marvel at the working sculpture which combines modern engineering and technology with ancient principles set out by Archimedes more than 2000 years ago.

When one of the structure’s gondolas is lowered, the opposite one rises, keeping the vast, 1800 tonne boat lift in perfect balance as it carries canal barges 35 metres into the air in a matter of minutes. Incredibly, the structure uses just 1.5kWh for each rotation.


MacGillivray Freeman Films had the pleasure of working with the Scottish Canals team on our most current film, Dream Big: Engineering our World. We create visual, educational and impactful films for the giant screen, and when we decided to tackle the topic of engineering, with our partner, The American Society of Civil Engineers, we knew we had to feature The Falkirk Wheel.

The team at Scottish Canals could not have been more helpful, generous with their time, personable, and considerate in our seven day shooting schedule in Scotland. And, we were gifted with two days of amazing weather, which created circumstances for some of the most incredible footage in the film! The Wheel is such a unique feat of engineering, and is now one of the audience’s favorite sequences in the film. Kids love it!

The overall experience was delightful, the team at Scottish Canals truly went above and beyond to make our filming experience as enjoyable and successful as possible. We wouldn’t hesitate to return and film more if the opportunity presented itself!”

Meghan MacGillivray, Production Manager, MacGillivray Freeman Films



Lime Road, Falkirk, FK1 4RS, Scotland

Forth & Clyde Canal/Union Canal

24 miles from Glasgow

30 miles from Edinburgh

Access Roads and parking

Good access for all vehicle types

c.500 space car park






Canal boats


Engineering structure

Meeting rooms

On-site security

Water access

Local Authority

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