With the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II, we’ve taken the chance to reflect on the Queen’s connection to Falkirk canals and the role she played in the regeneration of our area.
The Queen last visited Falkirk in 2017, when she officially opened Scotland’s newest inland waterway, Queen Elizabeth II Canal, and visited the Kelpies. Those with longer memories may remember that she also officially opened The Falkirk Wheel as part of the Millennium Link back in 2002.
The two world-famous landmarks are the product of ambitious redevelopment plans for the Falkirk area and our canal network. The opening of the Falkirk Wheel by The Queen was the first major canal regeneration project to be completed in our area. It transformed a dirty, derelict site into a stunning visitor attraction. Fifteen years later, the opening of the Queen Elizabeth II Canal followed the installation of the Kelpies and development of the Helix Park. It marked the final stage of the regeneration of a previously unloved, unused stretch of brownfield land.
These incredibly ambitious projects have had a significant and positive impact on our area, helping Falkirk move on from its heavy industrial past. The town has developed a successful new tourism industry in an area previously overlooked by visitors. Both The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies were regularly visited by over half a million people before the pandemic hit. But they are also visited and enjoyed by many locals from the Falkirk area too.
Now, Falkirk Canal Connections is helping to take the redevelopment of our canals further. Our partner organisations and community groups have been working together to develop the skills and plans that will create a better future for our canal-side communities. Our projects are being delivered against the themes of Healthier Connections, Environment Connections, Business and Employment Connections and Community Connections and look at all aspects of local life, from travel and leisure to arts and employment. Outcomes will range from the development and delivery of new skills-based training and qualifications to the drafting of community-supported regeneration and development plans.
The Queen’s connection to Falkirk canals was significant. By visiting The Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, The Queen helped celebrate regeneration in Falkirk and the transformation of our canal network for the benefit of all in our local area. Here at Falkirk Canal Connections, we want to make our own mark on the redevelopment of the canals to build on what has already been achieved. We’re saddened to hear of the Queen’s passing and look back fondly on her support for the regeneration of our area and our canal network.