The opening of the Wester Hailes section of the canal marked a major milestone in The Millennium Link project. A day of celebrations commemorated the occasion and tribute was paid in particular to the Wester Hailes community whose support for the canal was a critical element in the project’s success. 1.7km of new waterway were dug out and filled, 6 new road bridges and 3 new footbridges were constructed, roads were re-aligned and major landscaping works were completed in the process.
The canal has continued to play an important part in the life of Wester Hailes, forming a distinctive feature as well as attracting a variety of birds on the water. The Sentinel featured a special report on the canal in April 2002 in conjunction with British Waterways and the Wester Hailes Partnership. Children from Clovenstone Primary School and Dumbryden Primary School compiled reports to show what they had learnt about the canal. The feature also included information about water safety and the dangers of walking on the canal if it iced over during the winter. There was also news from British Waterways with details on how the canal was being maintained, both the tow path and the removal of debris from the water. Schoolchildren had also contributed poems.
You can read the full feature by clicking here on Sentinel Canal Report 2002. Different events are being held to mark the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of the canal in Wester Hailes. There’s also an exhibition in WHALE Arts Centre showing the progress of the canal’s re-opening using images and headlines from the Sentinel. WHALE are collecting comments about the images so if you remember what it was like before the canal was re-opened or the canal work or the celebrations you could add to the information on display. Edinburgh City Libraries have also put together an online exhibition documenting the Union Canal and its environs from Fountainbridge to Ratho. For a chance to see the exhibition locally, visit Wester Hailes Library between 1st and 30th September or Ratho Library from 1st to 31st October.
And don’t forget the Canaliversary, a day of celebration that is being held at Westside Water Front on Saturday 10th September. Situated by the Shell garage opposite the Plaza, it will be packed with activities from 12pm to 4pm with boat rides, canoeing, music, BBQ, stalls, exhibitions, duck race, children’s activities. For more information contact 0131 453 4617.