The Falkirk Wheel - Scotland

Lighting installation for the Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift in central Scotland connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. The dramatic structure opened in 2002 as part of the Millennium Link project. Since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction - encouraged by the addition of a visitor centre - and attracts around 500,000 visitors each year.


Design Adlib was called upon as technical partner to support lighting designer Kevin Grant from Light Alliance with the supplying and installation of the new lighting equipment in under six months - all during Covid and with the unknown of Brexit potentially affecting delivery schedules and costs.

Lighting the Wheel

Falkirk Wheel underside and legs are lit by ArchiLED 200 and  e Archibar 300 Studio Due fixtures with the “hoops” being lit by Studio Due Smart Max units
Parts of The Wheel were originally lit with Studio Due Citycolor discharge 2.5kw output.These were replaced by  Single 40 e Dual 80 LED fixtures resulting in significant energy savings.

Lighting the tunnel

The second part of the project was to light a 180-metre-long rough cast tunnel. The brief called for a design that would illuminate both the canal and the tow path alongside - all while minimising the environmental impact of introducing additional lighting.

For this part of the project Studio Due Slimbar POB Linear RGBW fixtures were selected and, despite them already being IP rated, extra protection was added with a coating of marine paint.

In response to the challenge of minimising environmental impact, if nobody traverses the tunnel for 5 minutes the lights on the canal side fade out completely, and the lights on the tow path side fade to 20%.

The Result 

The Result The Falkirk Wheel Experience is getting positive exposure again as global icon and has won a ‘Build Back Better’ as well as a ‘Scottish Design Award’ and a 'LIT Lighting Design Award'.

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