This summer, explore the newly-forged Union Canal and the Falkirk Tunnel, expertly guided by Messrs Burke and Hare – two of the men who helped carve the colossal channel.
This dark tour comes with a warning, though… it might be the change in temperature, the perpetual darkness or the sound of whispering across the water, but something unnatural lurks in the shadows of the tunnel – and in the hearts of your guides…
Regardless, it’ll surely be an evening to remember…
Visitors to the Union Canal will have the chance to experience a world of body snatchers, love, murder and deceit this August as the Falkirk Tunnel is transformed into a unique pop-up theatre venue telling the grisly tale of two of Scotland’s most notorious criminals.
‘The Resurrection,’ the new play from Scottish Canals and The Walking Theatre Company, will see guests enter the eerie depths of the Falkirk Tunnel as they learn about the dark deeds of ‘resurrection men’ William Burke and William Hare.
The pair, who moved from Ireland to Scotland to work as ‘navvies’ constructing the Union Canal in the early 1800s, would go on to establish their reputation on the streets of Edinburgh in the business of murder – luring victims to stay in the Hare guesthouse and selling the resulting bodies for medical experimentation.
The Resurrection tells their gory tale and is the first theatrical performance to take place in the Falkirk Tunnel. Scotland’s oldest and longest canal tunnel, the 630-metre-long channel was blasted and hewn from the rugged rock beneath Prospect Hill in Falkirk almost 200 years ago by ‘navvies’ like Burke and Hare. Designed by Union Canal engineer Hugh Baird, today it is the nation’s last surviving original canal tunnel.
Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said:
The Falkirk Tunnel is one of the most atmospheric and eerie sites on Scotland’s canals and we’re delighted to be able to bring one of its many stories to life with this unique pop-up theatre production in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
We look forward to welcoming our guests to the tunnel this summer but that welcome comes with a warning – whether it’s the change in temperature, the perpetual darkness, the sound of whispers from across the water, or the gruesome tale itself, The Resurrection is not for the faint of heart!
The lighting in the tunnel was upgraded recently with a new LED system thanks to funding raised by Scottish Waterways Trust from Avondale Environmental through the Landfill Communities Fund and sportscotland’s Active Places fund. Sustrans Scotland and Falkirk Council also supported the project. The new programmable system highlights the historic fabric of the tunnel – the candle holders, stalactites, dynamite stores and shafts – and allows the space to be used in innovative new ways.
Sadie Dixon-Spain, Playwright and Artistic Director at The Walking Theatre Company, said:
Walking along the edge of the Union Canal, through the wet crystalline walls of the Falkirk Tunnel, you are immediately struck by the magnitude of the structure, the shear depth and length is breathtaking. As a writer, to have the opportunity to use this landscape as inspiration for a site-specific play is extraordinary; a more unusual site for theatre you would be hard-pushed to find.
Our guests will feel history and landscape collide, to be linked by performance, as we take them on a journey into the tunnel’s darkness, entering a world of shadow that will be a huge adventure for us all.
Tickets for The Resurrection are available now from www.canaltheatre.co.uk, with performances commencing on August 4th. Additional performances will be available subject to demand.
For further information, please contact:
Chris McDonald at Scottish Canals on 07917217608 or email Chris.McDonald@scottishcanals.co.uk
Nicola Sturgeon at Scottish Canals on 07767383557 or email Nicola.Sturgeon@scottishcanals.co.uk
Notes to the editor:
About Scottish Canals
Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for bridges, buildings, locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day
The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22 million visits per year
For more information, visit www.scottishcanals.co.uk or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter
About EB Scotland
EB Scotland Ltd is a distributive environmental body which awards Landfill Communities Fund grants from contributions made by Avondale Environmental Ltd for the improvement of communities close to landfill sites.
In Scotland, Landfill Communities Fund has now been replaced by Scottish Landfill Communities Fund.
About The Walking Theatre Company
The work ‘The Resurrection,’ written by playwright Sadie Dixon-Spain, is a specially commissioned work for Scottish Canals performed by The Walking Theatre Company, an Argyll-based social enterprise who are committed to promote engagement with Scotland’s landscape and heritage through walking theatre performance.