Edinburgh's millennium projects still standing from bridges, canals and backwards clocks

By Kaite Welsh

Although it may seem hard to believe, it’s been over 21 years since we celebrated the Millenium. Some people born that year will have graduated from university by now and be on their way to full-fledged adulthood.

It’s no longer the byword for youth culture that it used to be - now, millennials are hitting 40 and being mocked by the younger generation on TikTok for their love of side partings and Harry Potter.

But evidence of Scotland’s millennium celebrations can still be found across the city, in some of the unlikeliest places - although sadly not this reporter’s shoe, which was lost while partying like it was 1999 and has never been recovered.

Perhaps the most famous one is the Millennium Clock, on display at the National Museum of Scotland. Unusually for a clock, despite telling the right time it looks backwards rather than forwards.

The majority of the funding came from The Millennium Commission, a non-departmental government body set up to use National Lottery funding to benefit communities across the UK and celebrate our past and future.

Dynamic Earth, now the staple of Edinburgh parents hoping to both distract and educate their children was built thanks to that funding, as was the Millenium Woods in Craigmillar Castle Park.

Along with new additions to Edinburgh, previous attractions that had fallen into disarray were rejuvenated.

The Millennium Link was a landmark engineering project undertaken by British Waterways. The £78 million project restored the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, reopening this once industrial highway from the coast to coast and rejoining the waterways between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Victoria Swing Bridge on the Water of Leith was also refurbished, although since then it has deteriorated considerably, with rotting timber and jagged metal. Now, Fort Ports have announced that they will carry out full restoration works on the historic bridge which is a Category A listed structure.

However, not all Scotland's millennium projects have been so successful - North Ayrshire's The Big Idea, billed as a “living laboratory for people who wish to think, to dream, to discover, to innovate and to invent”, closed in 2003, having never fulfilled its initial promise.


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