The world’s largest pair of equine sculptures, the 30-metre-tall Kelpies tower over a new section of the historic Forth & Clyde Canal in Grangemouth and form the centrepieces of the £43 million, 350 hectare Helix project, which has created a vibrant parkland, visitor attraction and marine hub in the area.
Inspiration for The Kelpies came from the heavy horses which pulled boats and cargo along the towpaths of the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals in their heyday. The transport arteries of the Industrial Revolution, the canals and the horses that walked them played a huge role in the development of the area. The sculptures’ name was derived from the mythical Celtic water horses which could transform their shape and which were reputed to have the strength of 10 horses and the endurance of many more.
Originally envisioned as a moving boat lift, during the early design process the notion of The Kelpies changed to monumental sculptures symbolising the industrial past of both the canal and the communities that line its banks. Glasgow-based artist Andy Scott – Scotland’s best-known equine sculptor – transformed The Kelpies from idea to reality, imagining a colossal gateway towering either side of the canal to welcome weary sailors and visitors to the nation’s hospitable shores. More than three million visitors from all over the world have stood in the shadow of the sculptures since their unveiling in April 2014.
A state-of-the-art lighting system means the sculptures look just as spectacular at night as they do during the day, with the 100-foot-tall sculptures gleaming against the Grangemouth gloom.