The Kelpies Are Coming!

The Kelpies arrive

The Falkirk skyline is set to change dramatically over the coming months with the installation of two huge, steel-plated equine sculptures known as The Kelpies.

These much-anticipated, 30-metre-high structures in the shape of horses’ heads will become a centrepiece of the Helix, a major land transformation project between Falkirk and Grangemouth currently under construction.

Today (12 February) marked another milestone for the Helix with the delivery of the first batch of individual Kelpie sections to Falkirk. The component parts are being fabricated by contractor, SH Structures, at their North Yorkshire yard.

The Kelpies arrive

Offsite manufacture of the Kelpie parts is critical to ensure the highest level of quality control. It will also enable onsite installation to be achieved in the shortest timeframe possible.

The first sections to be delivered were key structural framing sections for the Head Down Kelpie onto which unique stainless steel external plates will later be fixed to achieve the innovative artistic vision of Kelpie artist Andy Scott

The sections were delivered to Falkirk under a transportation order following agreement with 10 separate regional police forces. There will be a total of around 100 individual deliveries of Kelpie components to the Helix site over the next four months. This initial phase of deliveries will allow SH Structures to focus on the construction of the Head Up Kelpie.

The manufacture and delivery programme for The Kelpies coincides with the onsite works being undertaken by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering, who are currently constructing the massive foundations on which The Kelpies will sit. These foundations, each 1,600 tonnes, are supported on 32m length piles into the rock head to support the Kelpie structures.

Assembly of the full-size Kelpies is scheduled to begin in the canal hub area of the Helix adjacent to the M9 motorway in June 2013, and will be complete by the end of September. Once installed, these iconic sculptures will form a centrepiece of the major new Forth & Clyde canal link being delivered as part of the Helix.

The Kelpies are the vision of Glasgow-based sculptor, Andy Scott. Andy was commissioned by the Helix to design a piece of art that would reflect the scale and scope of the project.  The choice of two steel-structured equine heads continues Andy’s passion for fusing industry and art through the concept of heavy horses – the result of which will produce one of the most ambitious and imposing sculptures in the world.

The Kelpies arrive

Said Andy: “The commencement of the freight operation bringing The Kelpies components to site really heralds their arrival on the Scottish landscape.  This is a huge step towards their construction and will really begin to generate excitement and a sense of anticipation around the project.  This phase marks the culmination of years of hard work, most recently by SH Structures and the dozens of professionals involved in their design, and I really look forward to seeing The Kelpies rise from the ground at The Helix site.”

Mike King, programme director for the Helix, said: “It has been hugely impressive to see the fabrication and assembly process at SH Structures’ yard. It emphasises just how significant an undertaking this is in terms of the collaboration with artist, designer, contractors, and manufacturer.”

The Kelpies arrive

SH Structures were awarded the contract to fabricate The Kelpies in May 2012. SHS has considerable experience in delivering complex steel designs. In Scotland, they’ve created the new footbridge over the M8 motorway at Harthill as well as projects at the Silverburn and Braehead retail developments in Glasgow and at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

What’s in A Kelpie?  Facts n’ Figures

  • Weight: 300 tonnes each, which includes, 125 tonnes of steel framing and 25 tonnes for the ears, eyes and mane.
  • Width of base: 10.6m
  • Length of base: 24.0m
  • No. of ‘skin’ plates: 495 in each head
  • Length of steel tube: Head Down Kelpie – 2710m
  • No. of bolts used:    Head Down Kelpie - 5000 (Normal) + 4000 (Huck bolt)
  • Amount of paint used:  Head Down Kelpie - 2500m2
Published on Tuesday, 12th February 2013

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