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26th April 2007


• Impressive models will form template for iconic ‘Kelpie’ boat lift

A groundbreaking plan to create the world’s largest horse sculptures is taking shape in the workshop of one of Scotland’s leading artists.

The 35 metre high ‘Kelpie’ heads are based on the mythical Scots creatures of the same name and are the brainchild of British Waterways and internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Scott. The heads will form part of a £25 million bid to the Big Lottery Fund for The HELIX project, an ambitious initiative which, if the application is successful, will transform the landscape between Falkirk and Grangemouth into a thriving environmental community and tourism asset for Scotland.

But the giant heads, each equal in size to the world renowned Falkirk Wheel visitor attraction, would be more than just impressive works of art. The functional sculptures, complete with flowing manes, would form an integral part of an ingenious boat lift mechanism at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal, with the two heads slowly rocking back and forth to displace water from a lock chamber thereby allowing boats to move to and from Scotland’s lowland canal network.

The HELIX, which is one of the key projects in the innovative My Future’s in Falkirk economic development initiative, is being driven forward by a partnership including Falkirk Council, British Waterways and Central Scotland Forest Trust.

The team is currently preparing a bid to the Big Lottery Fund which includes the creation of a new canal link to open up the Forth Estuary, the Kelpie sculptures, 300 hectares of new greenspace and woodland with 750,000 new trees planted, an inspired public art programme and 34km of paths and cycleways. The project will create a fantastic community based resource which will bring a host of environmental and economic benefits to the area.

The bid will be made at the end of May and in preparation Andy Scott is currently creating two one-tenth scale steel maquettes (models), which will be used to help generate support for this ambitious project. The creation of the 3.5 metre high models involves welding thousands of small steel plates over a pre prepared steel skeleton. The skeleton itself will eventually be removed to leave a steel mosaic of the Kelpie heads.

Andy, whose father hailed from Falkirk, has a long association with equine sculpture having created the landmark ‘Heavy Horse’ which sits proudly at the side of the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and various other world renowned equine pieces in Australia and Spain.

The Kelpie theme was chosen not only for the role of the mythical water horse in waterway folklore but also to pay respect to the role of the heavy horse throughout Scottish history. The theme is made even more poignant by the fact that Falkirk was home to the UK’s largest ever Clydesdale horse.

Commenting on his latest project Andy said; “The HELIX will create a fantastic community resource in the Falkirk area with the Kelpies forming a focal point within the project.

“The horse occupies a very important place in the industrial history of Scotland, including the development of the country’s canal network, and is therefore an ideal subject for this piece of work. It will be a huge undertaking to create the world’s largest equine sculptures, however, the process I am following to create the scaled down maquettes will give both me and the engineering team a greater understanding of the issues and challenges ahead.“

Andy is currently working night and day in his studio in Maryhill in Glasgow to ensure that the impressive steel maquettes are ready for public display at the end of May.

The models will be used to help garner community support for the project, which will be critical if the bid to the Big Lottery Fund is to be successful. If the project gets the green light then work to start creating the massive Kelpie heads could begin at the end of the year.

Richard Millar, Business Development Manager at British Waterways said: “I can’t think of anyone better suited to create this incredible working sculpture. Andy’s work is world renowned and his passion and enthusiasm shines through every aspect of the project.

“The Kelpie heads and the extension of the Forth & Clyde Canal will form an integral part of The HELIX bid. If the bid is successful we will be in a position to create not only a fantastic community resource but also a world class piece of public art which, like The Falkirk wheel before it, could become an icon for Scotland and a major tourist attraction in its own right.”

Although the Kelpie legend does talk of the mythical creatures luring seafarers into the water, British Waterways is quick to point out that anyone travelling through the boat lift will be given a small bridle which according to legend would tame the creature and allow safe passage.

Commenting on the Big Lottery application Maureen Campbell from Falkirk Council said: “The huge social, economic and environmental potential of The HELIX has already been recognised by The Big Lottery Fund who awarded the project £250,000 last year to work up a full feasibility study. One of only three projects in Scotland to receive this funding, The HELIX is now looking to secure up to £25 million from The Big Lottery Fund to make the vision a reality and create an incredible community based resource and world class environmental and tourism asset for Scotland.”

Simon Rennie, Chief Executive of Central Scotland Forest Trust added, “Central Scotland Forest Trust is tremendously excited by Andy Scott’s artistic vision and fervent creativity. Andy’s Kelpies will be fantastic, inspiring, iconic structures creating an unforgettable landmark which will not only be a great source of pride to local residents but also act as a tourist attraction drawing visitors and financial benefits to the area.”

To find out more about The HELIX and to get involved visit


Issued on behalf of The HELIX by Wave PR. For further information, pictures of Andy Scott working on the maquettes, or artist’s impressions of the proposed Kelpie boatlift, contact Chris Bell Tel: 0141 303 8390 Mobile: 07974 692 330

Note to Editors :

My Future’s in Falkirk is an innovative 10 year economic development initiative which is transforming the Falkirk area into a diverse and modern economy and a desirable place to work, live and visit. The area already makes a major contribution to the Scottish economy through its position as the hub of the chemicals industry, its extensive transportation links and its growing reputation as a tourism and leisure destination.

To date the initiative has generated a commitment of £750 million of private sector investment into the area – significantly ahead of its original target of £200 million by the end of 2012. In 2012 it is expected that up to 4250 new jobs will have been created and an additional £50 million a year will be generated for the local economy.

My Future’s in Falkirk is a partnership between Falkirk Council, BP and Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley with funding support from European Regional Development Fund and INEOS.

The Big Lottery Fund is the joint operation name of the New Opportunities Fund and the National Lottery Charities Board (which made grants under the name of the Community Fund). The Big Lottery Fund, launched on 1 June 2004, is distributing half of all National Lottery good cause funding across the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks Programme will award £140 million across the UK to initiatives that have been designed to inspire communities to transform, revitalize and regenerate the places where they live, through social and community projects and major infrastructure investments.

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Text phone: 08456 021 659

Full details of Big lottery Fund projects and grant awards are available at:

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