Fifteen years after she officially opened the restored Forth & Clyde and Union canals, the Queen has returned to Scotland’s waterways for the naming of the country’s newest navigable link as the Queen Elizabeth II Canal.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh boarded the Seagull Trust’s barge Wooden Spoon Seagull to lead a flotilla along the ¾ mile length of canal, built as part of the £25m Helix Park regeneration of ex-industrial land between Falkirk and Grangemouth.
The canal provides a new eastern gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal, greatly improving access from the Firth of Forth. But it’s no ordinary stretch of water: complex and innovative engineering solutions were needed to carry it under a motorway and a trunk road, across utility pipelines, and into the tidal River Carron. It also features the Scottish waterways’ new icon, the Kelpies: the two giant horses’ head sculptures which stand guard each side of the new lock.
Scottish Communities Secretary Angela Constance said she was “delighted” to attend the official naming of the canal, which had “transformed access for mariners from Northern Europe and created a world-class marine hub in and out of Scotland”, while Andrew Thin, Chairman of Scottish Canals, said: “We are honoured that Her Majesty The Queen was able to join us to celebrate the naming of the Queen Elizabeth II Canal”, adding that the Helix was “alive with activity”, showing how “the local community has taken the incredible Kelpies and the canal over which they stand into their hearts.”