Falkirk’s Helix project takes Saltire Society crown

Kelpies designer Andy Scott and the Helix team with the Saltire Civil Engineering Award 2014, Geoff French, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (far left) and Gordon Pomphrey, convener of the Salire Sociey Civil Engineering Awards Panel (far right)
Kelpies designer Andy Scott and the Helix team with the Saltire Civil Engineering Award 2014, Geoff French, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (far left) and Gordon Pomphrey, convener of the Salire Sociey Civil Engineering Awards Panel (far right)
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The Kelpies have helped the Helix gallop off with a top Scottish civil engineering award.

Development of the 300-hectare site and the iconic horse head sculptures beat off stiff competition. Also in the running were Edinburgh’s Waverley Station and the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

The Saltire Society 2014 Civil Engineering Award won by the Helix has been recognising excellence in the field for over 30 years.

Gordon Pomphrey, convener of the awards panel, said the adjudication panel had no hesitation in recommending The Helix Development for this year’s overall award.

He said: “In particular, I feel it merits award in the project, design and construction categories. The project involved a wide range of stakeholders from its conception and throughout the design process and provided regeneration to the area resulting in tangible benefits to the environment, community and economy.

“There is no doubt that the Kelpies have quickly become another iconic must-see visitor attraction and will be an internationally recognised landmark for many years to come.”

Kelpies designer Andy Scott paid tribute to George Ballinger, one of the chief engineers at British Waterways. who nine years ago inspired the original design.

The sculptor said: “He was quite inspired by the mythological sea horses but I took that in a completely different direction and I wanted to celebrate the heavy horses that were part of Scotland’s industrial history, the agriculture and the canals. I came up with the design for the two horses’ heads that we now see so successfully built in the Helix park.

“It was an incredibly complicated undertaking, bearing in mind it was done in the worst economic recession ever, you can imagine the funding side of it was very difficult. My colleagues at Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals did an amazing job in pulling it together and sticking with it.”

He added that he was “blown away” to win the Saltire Society award, particularly given the strength of competition.

Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Canals, said: “From Neptune’s Staircase to The Falkirk Wheel, Scotland’s canals have been associated with innovative engineering for more than 200 years. The Helix is the latest in that long line of ambitious civil engineering projects and we’re delighted the Saltire Society has recognised the many achievements of the development.”

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council spokesperson for culture, leisure and tourism, said: “It is great to see the engineering elements of the Helix project recognised. The Helix and the Kelpies have become synonymous with the area, and drawn tourists from all over the world.”