The Kelpies

43 – Opening of The Kelpies

April 21, 2014

NEWCASTLE has the Angel of the North, Kent has a giant horse, but few of the giant sculptures that have sprung up in recent years have been taken to a nation’s heart as quickly and as thoroughly as The Kelpies.

The huge statues that were only officially unveiled last year already feel like a permanent part of the Scottish skyline.

More than a million visitors have stood in their shadow, proving they really have been an instant hit with Scots and tourists alike.

Those day-trippers are estimated to have pumped more than £1.5 million into the local economy.

A scrubby piece of parkland and some canals in need of a bit of TLC were the unlikely inspiration for the giant horse’s heads.

Originally conceived as a boat lift linking the Forth and Clyde and Union canals, the project moved on to being a tribute to Scotland’s industrial heritage that was fuelled by those waterways and driven in the early days by heavy horses pounding the towpaths.

Surrounding the centrepiece sculptures by Andy Scott would be the Helix, a new park to regenerate 350 hectares of land linking Falkirk and Grangemouth.

The Kelpies
Light, flame and sound show during the launch of The Kelpies sculpture.

They take their name from the water horses of ancient Celtic myth but are a marvel of modern engineering encompassing 18,000 components each, 12,000 tonnes of concrete and more than a mile of structural steel.

At 30 metres they are the world’s largest equine sculptures.

Best of all…sometimes, just sometimes, the sun comes out sparkling off their 1000 shimmering steel panels making them look truly magical.