Kelpies to get their first "veterinary health check"

The 30m-tall sculptures form the centrepiece of the 43m Helix project. Picture: Peter Sandground
The 30m-tall sculptures form the centrepiece of the 43m Helix project. Picture: Peter Sandground
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The world's largest equine sculptures are to get their first "health check" from a special "veterinary team", Scottish Canals announced today.

The canalside attraction in Grangemouth, which has been visited by more then 2.5 million people, is to be checked over in an eight-week full internal and external inspection for the first time since it opened three years ago.

Each Kelpie contains more than 18,000 components and 1.5 miles of structural steel. Picture: Peter Sandground

Each Kelpie contains more than 18,000 components and 1.5 miles of structural steel. Picture: Peter Sandground

Scottish Canals said the team will be "grooming their coats, checking their teeth, and inspecting every inch of the soaring steel canal guardians".

Tours inside the structures will continue during the work so visitors can view its progress.

Scottish Canals infrastructure director Richard Millar said: “As The Kelpies approach their third birthday, the maintenance work as part of this important health check will ensure that these global waterway icons are here, delivering for Scotland over the next century and beyond – continuing to capture the imaginations of people all over the planet and helping to put Falkirk and Grangemouth on tourists' 'must-see' lists the world over.”

A spokeswoman for the organisation said the ‘vet check’ involved work in line with the maintenance recommended when the Kelpies were built.

She said: "The team will be undertaking a detailed survey and inspection of the structures, including the paint systems, and checking for and cleaning any localised dirt or debris on the external structures."

The 30m tall Kelpies form the centrepiece of the £43m Helix park project, beside the Forth & Clyde canal and M9 - where they are estimated to be seen by 50m people a year.

They were inspired by the heavy horses which pulled boats and cargo along the canal towpaths.

Their names were derived from the mythical Celtic water horses which could transform their shape and were reputed to have the strength of ten horses.

The Kelpies, which each weigh 300 tonnes, include:

- 990 shimmering steel panels

- 18,000 components

- 1.5 miles of structural steel

- 1200 tonnes of concrete foundations

Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: "It is encouraging to know a three-year check-up is being carried out to ensure these sculptures are still fit and healthy.

"As engineers, we are well aware that periodic examinations are essential to ensure a structure’s safety.

"I am sure the Kelpies themselves, and the visitors who see inside them, will feel better for knowing it has been done.”