Millennium canal lift wrecked by vandals

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The Independent Online

The public opening of a millennium project costing millions has been postponed after it was vandalised.

The public opening of a millennium project costing millions has been postponed after it was vandalised.

The Falkirk Wheel, the centrepiece of an £84.5m scheme to create a coast-to-coast canal link across central Scotland, suffered damage estimated at hundreds of thousands of pounds after vandals opened the sluice gates of the Union Canal and flooded the sensitive mechanism of the world's first rotating boat lift.

Millions of gallons of water cascaded 150 feet (50m) into the basin in which the wheel's operating system is housed, putting the structure out of commission ahead of its scheduled opening on Wednesday 1 May. Engineers spent most of yesterday attempting to drain the area.

The 115ft Falkirk Wheel is the first new boat lift in Britain for more than a century and was designed to lift up to four boats in 250,000 litres (50,000 gallons) of water and transfer them between the Forth and Clyde and Union Canal at Falkirk, replacing a series of 19th-century stepped locks.

Although a spokesman said it was intended that the official opening of the wheel by the Queen on 24 May would go ahead as planned, he added that it was too early to tell whether all the repairs would be completed in time.

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