Wishing for a Calatrava

The battery of The Tank spluttered and coughed it’s last.

The AA man arrived, checked it’s pulse, then pronounced it well and truly dead.  He did, however, toss a few chicken bones and cast a few spells which allowed it’s temporary resurrection, enough to make it as far as my friend John’s garage near the canal bank in Falkirk.  FD and I abandoned the The Tank outside the workshop and headed off for a one hour amble along the final few hundred metres of the Forth and Clyde Canal, just before it outfalls into the River Carron near Grangemouth.

The Fatog was unimpressed by the noisy industry and traffic in this part of  the world but perked up once she reached the wide canal towpath.

This is not the most scenic part of the canal, this being Falkirk’s industrial heartland.

Sadly the building of this bridge was considered by the Falkirk Council publicity machine as one of our major achievements of that year.  We didn’t agree as I recall but they demanded each department put forward something.   I think it demonstrates the available budget for prestigious feats of engineering in the Falkirk area, if nothing else.  Sorry Stephen…but it ain’t a Calatrava.  It’s the functional best that can be done for the available funds which means that the most “artistic” thing about it is the graffiti.  Maybe now that Falkirk can attract such world class acts as Elton John (who will be sinking singing approximately 500m from here) we can persuade Santiago (Calatrava) to deliver us a proper looking bridge!  I await in expectation of a philanthropic benefactor and the appearance of penguins in Hell.

The Fatdog appeared massively underwhelmed.

However the local sewerage works shone magnificently against the snow covered, Old Red Sandstone backdrop of the Ochil Hills.

Things perked up a couple of hundred metres further on where the canal took a sharp left turn and headed for the little marina that marks its end.

Seabirds congregated on a little floating jetty, eyeing the passing Fatdog with great suspicion.

And near the tiny marina we discovered the pride of the Falkirk Council fleet, used for welcoming foreign dignitaries to our muddy and litter-strewn shores.

I saw a promising shot in the making…

…with the zoom turned up the wee Fuji did its impressive trick of hauling the hills towards the foreground – making this little haven next to the M9 motorway appear almost idyllic.  And they say the camera never lies…nobody told that to the wee Fuji!


22 thoughts on “Wishing for a Calatrava”

    1. I suspected you might notice the redundant members Alan 😆 It was supposed to represent…something…I think…if Stephen sees the post he’ll maybe tell us.

      Limited budgets produce limited design. But that’s art in Falkirk…never quite big enough to be effective. The canal upgrade was a Millenium project…hence the “fancy” bridge. If it hadn’t been for the canal people it wouldn’t have been as fancy as that!

      There was almost a feeling of embarassment about it because of how much could be spent.

      1. Ken,

        I would have you know the outline was architect designed!!

        The blue steelwork forms no function other than hark back to the original railway swing bridge that previously stood on the site. Mind you it wasn’t blue, but very rusty and also covered in graffiti. When we demolished the old swing bridge, sections were carted away to form art work / sculptures. No idea what happened to them.


        1. No use trying to blame someone else – your bridge! 😆

          Didn’t know the old one was that shape…don’t think I ever saw it – it not being one of ours.

          Did the bridge design not have to be approved by some committee or other? (I’m trying to give you a get-out here 😀 )

  1. You should pin that picture on the wall and label it “Reasons for Retirement, I, 2, 3”
    I think I would have just said “NO” Not on MY bridge and stomped off down the drawing office.

    1. It’s just symptomatic of logal government attitudes as far back as I can remember – lowest possible cost – and thus little by way of real innovation. Having driven through France and Northern Italy in years past I couldn’t believe the size of some of the road/bridge projects compared with the uk. We were looking very second rate. 😦

      1. Your comment on local government short-sighted attitudes reminds me of a phrase from Stanley Baxter’s “Parliamo Glasgow” from some years back.- “Erra perra cooncillors” which was translated as “Here come a couple of intellectuals.”

        1. 😆

          There were a huge number of classics from that Stanley Baxter era Russell. That was the part of his show I always looked forward to.

    1. Have the heads not shrunk? I’m sure that I heard a few months back that they were being scaled down because they might cause drivers to swerve on the nearby M9.

      So we can now speculate: was it the “worried about litigation” lobby or the “we need to cut costs” lobby who had the final say??

      Whichever…it’s a shame. It was a chance for something iconic in this area.

  2. Ken, I walked along here recently-I work at the nearby college-and found it to be quite a depressing stroll until I got to the marina, especially the reversed “n” in “Chinatown”-doubt if it was deliberate.

    1. Ah Falkirk Tech – Scoobytees…not sure of its new posh name these days. I spent some time there in the 70’s when it had all the charisma of a prison building. :9 Hope it’s improved since. 😆

      Nowadays that wee stroll must be 10 times better than it would have been in the 1970’s. That area has improved dramatically since then…which will give you some idea of how bad it used to be 😯 Do you remember it from then or are you fortunate to be young enough to not remember? 😀

      Will pass on the spelling mistake to the designer…I’m sure it was applied to the structure to keep it in character with the area. That’s what happens if you’re unlucky enough to have architects and planners involved in a project. 😆

      1. Its now Forth Valley College, Ken. I spent 4 very happy years there teaching History and Modern Studies until May this year when the powers that be decided that History and Modern Studies should no longer be taught there. Before that I had 34 years teaching in the same secondary school in Cumbernauld. After 34 years of adolescents trying, usually successfully, to take the mince out of me FVC at Falkirk seemed like paradise. I got on very well with the students, they obtained great results in the SQA exams and I was left alone to teach any way I wanted. – I was the only History / Modern Studies lecturer.
        Rather than being bitter about being bumped from the college I am trying to be grateful for the 4 years I had there.

        1. Sorry to hear about that Russell 😦 . Looks like you’ve been caught up in the rationalising of posts/cutting of costs that’s going on throughout the public sector at present.

          Ironically it was the plight of a number of the college’s students that allowed me to “jump” this year. A number of our trainees were coming to the end of their apprenticeship with no available posts for them to fill – I saw this as my ticket to early retirement (and had done since the scheme began some 10 years ago! 😆 ) Luckily it worked out for all concerned 😀

          I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your time there. I recall lecturers in the 70’s dreading the days they had to take the apprentice motor mechanics. This was apparently the worst luck ever and they lived in dread of those classes 😆

      1. 😆

        No probs Russell.

        It’s most definitely a small world when people start bumping into each other on an obscure blog 😀

    1. Ah the OS map, Stephen. I took a screenshot from my digital mapping, then fiddled in photoshop just to sharpen it a little. I then converted it to a jpeg as I can upload any jpeg for a blog background. :D.

      The screenshot was of the area MrP walked in his last report for the blog. The OS won’t be happy about it…if they find the blog 😆

    1. I have to admit that I could stare at maps all day Stephen. 😳

      I’ve always found them fascinating. In fact there are times our walk has taken us a particular direction because I’ve seen a name on a map that I thought intruiging e.g. Shippytrouty Wood and Skea Crag (near Fankerton)

      In fact I didn’t intend the background to stay as the map – I was going to change it depending on what the main post was about – but people seemed to like it and it grew on me 😆

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