click here to return to the Millennium Link Resource Home PageThe Falkirk Wheel: Abnormal Loads

There are many aspects to the building of a structure like the Falkirk Wheel, not least how to get the parts on-site from the fabricator Butterley Engineering. These images were supplied by Mr Derek Sneddon who had a six month stint of abnormal loads officer with Central Scotland Police Traffic Department during most of the load movements. Hyperlinked dates take you to the corresponding webcam activity.

All the loads arrived from England via the M6, A74, and M74. From Glasgow they crossed to the M73, and appear at the bottom left of this map. They then followed A80, M876, and M9 exiting at junction 6 Earls Gate. They then doubled back along the A904 and A9 Falkirk Northern distributer to the new bridge over the Forth and Clyde canal at the Beefeater Resturant. The final stretch on increasingly minor roads (see this map) was along Glenfuir Road, Tamfourhill Road, and Lime Road.

17th -27th June 2001: The very first load arriving for the wheel site was the larger half of the gondola or caisson. This first caisson, including it's vehicle was 15' 9" wide, 15' high, 65 tonnes, and 98' long. It came into the Central Scotland Police area about 1030pm, which meant that the wheel site entrance had closed for the evening. Shown above it is in Grangemouth Docks, awaiting traffic clearance for the last stage of the journey after it's overnight wait.

In the morning when clearance arrived, it finished it's journey accompanied by two police motorcyclists, with assisting patrol car. The bikes going on ahead of the load to stop traffic in the opposite direction and at roundabouts.

17th -27th June 2001: The smaller half of First Caisson, 12'6" wide, waiting just inside the wheel site entrance.

27th June - 13th July: Large half of second Caisson 15'9", just before unloading in what became the Wheel basin.

July 2001: Two Aqueduct Supports maneuver into the Falkirk Wheel site entrance, Tamfourhill.

July 2001: Still negotiating the site entrance!

July 2001: Aqueduct supports, 88 tonnes, 13' 9" in Tamfourhill Road, just approaching wheel site entrance. The street outside the entrance to the wheel site required the residents to move their parked cars to let the loads through. As with all things planned in advance, the odd mishap does happen even when things are going smoothly!

This picture by Robert Walker taken in July shows one of the heavy loads "grounded" at the foot of Glenfuir Road, as a result of a blow-out. A bemused policeman looks on.

28th July - 2nd August 2001: Aqueduct support for the second assembly, 116 tonnes, 16' 2". Parked in the wheel site entrance approach road.

28th July - 2nd August 2001: Second Axle End, 82" long, 16' 1" wide. Parked up at the wheel site entrance.

17th August 2001: The main axle making the extremely difficult right hander into Glenfuir Road, Falkirk. Even with reversing access into a Distillery yard off the main road this was not easy! Notice the removed bollards to facilitate passage.

17th August 2001: Ring Gears. Camelon Road, Falkirk, opposite the Beefeater Resturant.. The reason for the ring gear truck looking a bit abandoned (door lying open!!!!) was that both the axle and the ring gear came up in the same movement. All four guys from the trucks were out trying to move the axle load round as shown in the previous photo!.

This was a busy weekend, for after these pieces arrived on the Friday, less glamorous abnormal loads followed on Saturday with the counter weights for the 1000 tonne crane.

18 October 2001: Movements reduced during the rest of August, as the assembly work progressed. The final loads consisted of The Beaks. Here are the first 2 parked up at the site entrance.

18 October 2001: The other side of the vehicle shown in the last picture.

Only one last abnormal load was required to complete the main wheel assembly, on 19th November 2001 the final two beaks arrived on site.


All Photographs and source text: Mr Derek Sneddon