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30 years ago

With the Falkirk Wheel now in operation, an idea first floated 30 years ago may still have some buoyancy in it. As reported in The TES Scotland of May 31, 1974, West Lothian was to be asked to finance a floating classroom on the Union Canal which runs from Edinburgh to Falkirk: Heading up the proposal for the classroom on a barge by the development committee of the Scottish Inland Waterways Association, W S Raithie, depute rector of Broxburn Academy, said: "The Union Canal offers opportunities, unique in Scotland, for the study of industrial archaeology, and of the 19th century development of travel and transport. On it, we have the only canal tunnel in Scotland and three of the finest major aqueducts in Britain."

In an introduction to the proposal, Mr Raithie also said the floating classroom would be an ideal base for lessons on nature study and botany.

Costed at pound;2,000 the vessel was to have a fibreglass upper structure offering views of the canal and a 45ft long steel hull.

The report concluded "It is proposed that finishing work should be carried out as a project by RSLA pupils (those kept on at school after the raising of the school-leaving age to 16) supervised by skilled craftsmen."

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