Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

21 July 2011

A Spoke of the Community

When I first learned about the Falkirk Wheel, I thought it was an ingenious way to cut time down for boats going through the canals. I didn't realize then that the Falkirk Wheel wasn't a replacement for working locks, but instead a work around abandoned locks. But even when I found out about that, I still thought that the Wheel was worth it just to open up the water to boats. Then we discovered that no cargo boats go through the canal. Only personal boats and the tour boats go through the canals. At first I was upset that it was basically a tourist attraction and fun for rich people. After visiting the Wheel, I have a different opinion about it.

Since the Wheel is a tourist attraction, it's bringing a ton of people to the Falkirk area. This is assuredly good for the town's economy since people need to be employed to work at the wheel, people need to be employed to bring people to the wheel, the town now experiences more and new people at its malls and restaurants. On the tour boat, we sat in the midst of a school tour. The girls next to me were talking about the map they printed out of the mall and where they wanted to shop. Their chaperone was discussing which restaurant they were going to after the tour. This is all going back into the Falkirk community.

But the wheel serves a purpose other than attracting new people to the community: it serves the community. The restaurant inside the visitor center encourages you to eat and enjoy watching the wheel anytime. There is a water park for children right next to Wheel, as well as ice cream and burger vendors. There is a "water walking" booth where you can be put in a giant hamster ball and "walk" (or flounder) on the water. Teenagers hang out here trying to get the hang of it.

My video is of the Wheel as a "spoke of the community". The wheel itself and all the people that use it and the fun it provides.

So although the Wheel currently only services tour boats and personal pleasure craft, it's providing a place where the people of Falkirk can gather. It's bringing outsiders to Falkirk and facilitating growth in the town. Who knows, maybe in the postindustrial future, everybody will be able to afford personal boats and glide down the canals too. It's not too crazy. Some time ago people thought only the rich could afford leisure time.


salvo said...

Kelli, can you embed the video?

Kelli Barnett said...

Zach helped me make both videos smaller so they're both embedded now.