Kelpies maquettes stabled in Inverness for World Canals Conference

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.”

“I’m sure the maquettes will prove popular with both our visitors and the people of Inverness and have no doubt we’ll see more than a few Kelpie Selfies over the duration of the conference!”

Steve Dunlop, Scottish Canals' Chief Executive

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.

Notes to Editors

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for 251 bridges, 212 buildings, 256 locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and 19 water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day.

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, Scotland’s canals are now recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year.

For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter

About The Kelpies

The Kelpies is a 30 metre (100ft) high, 300 tonne public artwork in the Falkirk area. The steel structures in the shape of horses heads form the world’s largest equine sculpture.

The Kelpies is the dramatic centrepiece of The Helix, a £43million regeneration project across 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.

The Helix project has been funded via a partnership between The Big Lottery Fund, Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals.

The Kelpies creates a gateway into The Helix and the Forth & Clyde canal and is the result of a unique collaboration between the partners and Glasgow-based artist, Andy Scott.

The Kelpies pays homage to the tradition of the working horses of Scotland which used to pull barges along Scotland’s canals and worked in the fields in the area where they now stand.

Since its completion in April 2014, The Kelpies has attracted over 1.5million visitors.

The Kelpies features in a specially created timelapse film celebrating Falkirk on the new website

The Kelpies Maquettes

The Kelpies Maquettes are 3 metre high (10ft) horses heads sculptures hand crafted by renowned Scottish sculptor Andy Scott, which were made as models to create the world’s largest equine sculpture, The Kelpies.

The Maquettes are 1/10th the size of The Kelpies

The Maquettes tour the world helping to promote Scotland and the Falkirk area as a visitor destination, having previously appeared at major events including New York’s Scotland Week, the 2014 Ryder Cup,   the Grand National, the Scottish Cup Final 2015 plus the Edinburgh Festival, the West End Festival plus lots more.

About the World Canals Conference

The biggest event in the international waterways calendar, Inverness joins an illustrious list of past World Canals Conference hosts including the Grand Canal in China, Montreal in Canada and New York in the USA. As well as innovative projects from around the globe, the 2016 World Canals Conference will also celebrate developments along Scotland’s 137-mile waterway network, from the creation of The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures on the planet – to The Falkirk Wheel’s role as the world’s only rotating boat lift and an iconic tourism destination.

Over 300 business leaders from more than a dozen countries will attend the four-day conference from the 19th – 22nd September, hearing from keynote speakers including Dr Jonathan Chambers, Team Leader in Geophysical Tomography at the British Geographical Survey; Riccardo Marini, Director of Gehl Architects; and Daniel Fabrega, Panama’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom. More than 50 presentations and plenary sessions will also be held over the course of the conference.

As well as a range of high profile speakers, the event has also attracted sponsors and partners from around the globe. Red Bull; KLM; Air France; VisitScotland; the Scottish Government; the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design; Sustrans; Linssen Yachts; AECOM; Visit Inverness Loch Ness; Peter Brett Associates; Highland Council; the Inverness Common Good Fund; Scottish Waterways Trust; Rabbie’s Trail Burners; Scottish Segway Centre; Loch Ness Centre; Pickering’s Gin; and the Inverness Business Improvement District have also offered their support for the conference.

More information on the conference can be found at

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