The Grand Opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal

Location: Bowling – Falkirk
Venue: Forth & Clyde Canal
Dates: 26 May 2001 to 28 May 2001

An event to mark the completion of the first stage of the Millennium Link, reactivating a long lost connection between the North Sea and the Atlantic. UZ was commissioned by British Waterways to produce an event to increase public awareness and appreciation of The Forth & Clyde Canal through public participation and media recognition. Key project objectives included involving the community, sustaining the economy and protecting the environment.

British Waterways Scotland

UZ was appointed by British Waterways to create this landmark event which took place from the 26th to 28th May 2001. In addition, the event launched Big in Falkirk, Scotland’s National Street Arts Festival and was enjoyed by thousands of people along the 35 mile canal route.

To celebrate its reopening, UZ Events and British Waterways Scotland organised a fabulous flotilla of yachts, barges, puffers and tugs which sailed from Grangemouth in the East to Bowling in the West. These were the first to make the journey in forty years. Leading the flotilla was a specially commissioned stunning 35ft long fish, conceived by UZ Artistic Director Neil Butler and designed by Graham Gilmour. When the flotilla reached Falkirk, it was greeted by 10,000 spectators which included 800 school children participating in the British Waterways Scotland Parade.

At various points along the way the fish transformed into a spectacular fountain. Atop the fish was acclaimed thrash ceilidh group, Febus, who provided raucous musical accompaniment. The fish finally came to rest in Bowling on Monday 28th May after its 35-mile, 3-day journey.

‘They turned up in their thousands yesterday to witness a piece of aquatic history in the making…A giant 35ft fish spouting ice complete with ceilidh band balancing on its back, a mini puffer and several yachts and a handful of specially chosen barges were amongst the flotilla chosen to mark its official opening. More than 10,000 people witnessed the ceremonies…’ The Scotsman 28 May 2000.

‘Dazzling show by fish boat 35ft long’. The Falkirk Herald, May 24 2001.