Scale models of The Kelpies, the world’s largest pair of equine sculptures, have arrived in Inverness ahead of the World Canals Conference, which is set to welcome more than 300 global delegates to the city.
The 1/10th scale maquettes will stand in the Highland Capital’s Falcon Square from Monday 12th September until Sunday 25th September. The visit follows the sculptures’ stay on the Caledonian Canal at Neptune’s Staircase, the longest lock flight in Britain. The three-metre-tall 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 arrival of the maquettes marks start of the countdown to the start of the 2016 World Canals Conference, which returns to Scotland for the first time in more than a decade. The four-day event commences on September 19th and will see more than 300 international waterway experts, business leaders and global professionals celebrate innovative thinking and cutting-edge delivery in a range of disciplines including sustainable tourism development, regeneration, heritage management, climate change and engineering within the iconic landscape of the Scottish Highlands.
Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said: “The World Canals Conference is set to showcase everything that makes the nation’s historic waterways such incredible places and we’re delighted to bring The Kelpies maquettes to their temporary stables in Inverness to help welcome our attendees to Scotland.
“These magnificent monuments to horse-powered heritage have captured the imaginations of people the world over. They’re a towering tribute to the industrial past of Scotland’s canals, a shining symbol of their bright future, and the perfect way to greet World Canals Conference attendees who are jetting in from all over the globe.”
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 two 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 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 – 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.