Red Wheels work in conjunction with back-up material on its website to inform, educate and enthuse visitors about turning points in our nation’s transport history. It is thus hoped to help preserve such places for the enjoyment of future generations, while motivating young people to pursue careers in the STEM subjects on which our futures depend. A QR code will direct visitors' mobiles to the relevant page of the database on the Trust' s website.
The first Red Wheel north of the border was at Paisley Canal Station in August 2019 in celebration of a site of multiple canal and railway significance. Two days later it was joined by Glenfinnan for the world-famous viaduct, and later that year by Wemyss Bay, an ultimate in transport interchange. Notwithstanding the pandemic two more were unveiled during 2020 by the Trust’s vice-president John Cameron, for Scotland’s first railway opened in 1722 at Cockenzie and for the world’s first seagoing roll-on roll-off ferry in 1850 at Burntisland.
Others now delivered include the UK’s only turntable ferry between Glenelg and Kylerhea, Orkney’s wartime Churchill Barriers and the Alloa Waggonway, whose route is etched into the townscape. Also awaiting installation are Leamington Lift Bridge on the Union Canal, and Madelvic, Britain’s first car factory in Granton. Another early car factory was the magnificent Argyll Motor Works in Alexandria, and other upcoming Edinburgh possibilities are the Innocent Railway, Scotland Street Tunnel and the very grand private station for workers at Granton Gasworks. Recognising nearby HMS Claverhouse - once a railway hotel built by the Duke of Buccleuch - will mark the southern end of the Forth ferry.
Scotland’s road-building pioneers could be acknowledged with Wade’s Bridge at Aberfeldy and Telford’s at Pathhead. Barra Airport is the only one in the world where flights are governed by the movements of the tides. External funding can be helpful to move a location up the priorities, and Friends groups are supporting inclusion of the Duke of Sutherland’s Railway at Dunrobin and the Anderson’s Piano tripwire signalling in the Pass of Brander. Network Rail is enabling the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railway to join the programme at newly-rebuilt Glasgow Queen Street.
East Fortune is Britain's best-preserved Second World War airfield, and now houses the Museum of Flight, while the Signal Tower Museum at Arbroath which was the shore-base for the Bell Rock might be the most accessible location for a Red Wheel to celebrate Scotland's famous Stevenson lighthouses. The Trust does not normally recognise museums as such, but an exception might be made of Fairfield Heritage for its commemoration of Clyde shipbuilding alongside a working yard. The Finnieston Crane similarly recalls Glasgow’s role as locomotive builder to the Empire, with the Big Cran Company aiming to create a heritage centre.
Locations do not come much more celebrated than the Forth Bridge, but the opportunity could exist to provide a Red Wheel should Network Rail be able to resume progress on a visitor centre. Recognising Scotland's first public railway the Kilmarnock and Troon is being progressed with East Ayrshire Council, and including the Glasgow Subway will be taken forward with SPT. Subsea 7 in Caithness is perhaps worthy of inclusion as our last-surviving industrial narrow-gauge railway. Moy Viaduct is the last timber-encased structure on a Scottish railway.
The Avon Aqueduct is Scotland's tallest and Britain’s second-longest, while Neptune’s Staircase is another possibility for Scottish Canals, with whom it is hoped to build a successful relationship, reflecting the positive one that the Trust has enjoyed with the Canal & River Trust south of the border.
Additional nominations are always welcome, using the form on the Trust’s website, and where a location does not justify a Red Wheel it could still be added to the website coverage. Buses are conspicuous by their absence, any ideas please?
John Yellowlees, Scottish Chair, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport