Scale models of The Kelpies, the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures, have arrived at Ardrishaig on the Crinan Canal in time for Easter.
The 1/10th scale maquettes will be stabled in Ardrishaig Harbour on their first venture to ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’. The three-metre-tall Kelpie Maquettes, which have toured the world helping to promote Scotland and the Falkirk area as a visitor destination, have previously appeared at major events including New York’s Scotland Week, the Grand National and the Ryder Cup.
The maquettes have made a timely arrival for locals and tourists alike to make a visit during their Easter break. They will be situated next to the Steamer Terminal at Ardrishaig Harbour, a brand new tourism hub and café located on the edge of the Crinan Canal, until the end of the summer.
The colossal, 30-metre-tall Kelpies, which tower over a new section of the historic Forth & Clyde Canal, are the centrepieces of the £43m Helix project. The scheme, driven by a partnership of Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals and supported by an award of £25m from the Big Lottery Fund, has transformed 350 hectares of underused land between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a vibrant parkland, visitor attraction and marine hub with the canal and The Kelpies at its heart.
More than three million visitors from all over the world have stood in the shadow of the sculptures since their unveiling in April 2014, bringing renewed vibrancy and income to the area and boosting the local economy by an estimated £1.5m per year. The site is now co-managed by Falkirk Community Trust and Scottish Canals.
A colossal engineering endeavour, inspiration for The Kelpies came from the heavy horses that 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 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 – one of Scotland’s best-known sculptors – 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.