The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

Date

24 December 2015

Location

Helix Park, Falkirk
NS 90621 82170; 56.01990°N, 3.75630°W

Information

The Kelpies are a pair of 30-metre-high, 300-tonne steel horse-head sculptures standing at the entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal in Helix Park, Falkirk next to the M9 motorway.

The work was designed by Glasgow-based sculptor Andy Scott (b 1964), who specialises in public art, and it opened to the public in April 2014. The name, which refers to the Scottish folkloric malevolent shape-shifting water spirit often taking the appearance of a horse, was chosen by Scottish Canals at the outset of the project in 2005. Scott, however, developed the theme as a tribute to the heavy draft animals that played such a prominent role in the industrial history of the area. He modelled his 1:10 scale, hand-welded maquettes for the sculptures on two Clydesdale horses, Duke and Baron, who made a guest appearance at the official ‘topping out’ ceremony at the end of construction in November 2013.

The three-metre-high maquettes were laser scanned in order to fabricate the corresponding full-scale steel components. These were manufactured by Yorkshire-based SH Structures Ltd, who also erected the sculptures on site in 90 days. The sculptures stand by the new ‘Kelpies Hub’ turning basin and extension to the canal linking it to the North Sea, both of which opened for boating at the same time as the sculptures opened to the public. The Kelpies cost £5 million and were funded by the National Lottery, Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals.

The £1.8 million visitor centre was designed by Dundee architects Nicol Russell Studios and opened to the public in October 2015.

On 1 April 2015 The Scotsman newspaper ran an April Fool’s story stating that £2 million of remedial work, which would involved closing the attraction for up to a year, would be necessary to repair rust damage to the foundations of the sculptures. The problem was first discovered, so the story claimed, when American tourist Flora Pilo (an anagram of April Fool!) noticed the horses’ heads sinking downwards in a ten-minute time-lapse video she had recorded on a visit to the site.

Further Reading

The Kelpies (The Helix)

The Kelpies Visitor Centre

The Kelpies Visitor Centre

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

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34 thoughts on “The Kelpies

  1. I visited the Kelpies last year – they are truly a remarkable feat of engineering. Your photos capture the brilliant and beauty of these magical creatures. “No mortal ear could have heard the kelpie passing through the night, for the great black hooves of it were as soundless in their stride as feathers falling.” Mollie Hunter, The Kelpie’s Pearls

  2. They are something else these beasts but so heavily photographed in such a short space of time – difficult to capture something special – but you cant help it with these location Eilean Donan etc – you just keep shooting 🙂

  3. I’m a bit ambivalent about these sculptures…but I love your photos! The first photo for me really describes the sculpture and it’s construction, surely where engineering meets art. That’s my favourite, as it brings something new to the understanding of the construction. The others somehow emphasise the way the sculptor has imposed something on the site in too vast a scale, Still, it’s only my opinion, and what do I know.:-) I have seen them in the “flesh”, by the way, and felt the same. Your photos, however, are stunning as always.

    • Many thanks, Iain. Your thoughts are always very much appreciated. The sculptures’ scale is indeed vast and I think that for me it was actually their sheer size that made most of an impression. At any rate, I felt that this was a worthwhile piece of public art (quite unlike Bangor Pontio’s ahem… ‘Caban’ – watch this space…)

    • Thanks, Alex! Glad you liked them. The only danger with online April Fool’s jokes is that they then remain available any day of the year and, I guess, not many people will notice the small dateline 😯

  4. Pingback: The Kelpies | GeoTopoi

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