Town and administrative centre
Falkirk High Street
Falkirk is located in Falkirk
Location within the Falkirk council area
Area11 km2 (4.2 sq mi)
Population35,590 (mid-2020 est.)[1]
• Density3,197/km2 (8,280/sq mi)
Settled7th century
Burgh Charter1600
Elevation37 m (121 ft)[2]
OS grid referenceNS887801
Civil parish
  • Falkirk
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townFALKIRK
Postcode districtFK1, FK2
Dialling code01324
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
56°00′04″N 3°47′01″W / 56.0011°N 3.7835°W / 56.0011; -3.7835

Falkirk (/ˈfɔːlkɜːrk/; Scottish Gaelic: An Eaglais Bhreac; Scots: Fawkirk [ˈfɔːkɪrk]) is a town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland, historically within the county of Stirlingshire. It lies in the Forth Valley, 23+12 miles (38 kilometres) northwest of Edinburgh and 20+12 miles (33 km) northeast of Glasgow.

Falkirk had a resident population of 32,422 at the 2001 UK Census. The population of the town had risen to 34,570 according to a 2008 estimate, making it the 20th most populous settlement in Scotland. Falkirk is the main town and administrative centre of the Falkirk council area, which has an overall population of 156,800[3] and inholds the nearby towns of Grangemouth, Bo'ness, Denny, Camelon, Larbert and Stenhousemuir, and the cluster of Braes villages.

The town is at the junction of the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals, a location which proved key to its growth as a centre of heavy industry during the Industrial Revolution. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Falkirk was at the centre of the iron and steel industry, underpinned by the Carron Company in nearby Carron. The company made very many different items, from flat irons to kitchen ranges to fireplaces to benches to railings and many other items, but also carronades for the Royal Navy and, later, manufactured pillar boxes and phone boxes. Within the last fifty years, heavy industry has waned, and the economy relies increasingly on retail and tourism. Despite this, Falkirk remains the home of many international companies like Alexander Dennis, the largest bus production company in the United Kingdom. Falkirk has a long association with the publishing industry. The company now known as Johnston Press was established in the town in 1846. The company, now based in Edinburgh, produces the Falkirk Herald.

Attractions in and around Falkirk include the Falkirk Wheel, The Helix, The Kelpies, Callendar House and Park and remnants of the Antonine Wall. In a 2011 poll conducted by STV, it was voted as Scotland's most beautiful town.[4]


map of Antonine wall with forts
Forts and Fortlets associated with the Antonine Wall from west to east: Bishopton, Old Kilpatrick, Duntocher, Cleddans, Castlehill, Bearsden, Summerston, Balmuildy, Wilderness Plantation, Cadder, Glasgow Bridge, Kirkintilloch, Auchendavy, Bar Hill, Croy Hill, Westerwood, Castlecary, Seabegs, Rough Castle, Camelon, Watling Lodge, Falkirk, Mumrills, Inveravon, Kinneil, Carriden
Romans (Antonine Guard Living History Society) saluting at Callendar House

An Eaglais Bhreac is a derivative formed from the Scottish Gaelic cognate of the first recorded name Egglesbreth from the Brittonic for "speckled church",[5] presumably referring to a church building built of many-coloured stones. The Scottish Gaelic name was calqued into Scots as Fawkirk (literally "variegated church"[6]), then later amended to the modern English name of Falkirk. The Latin name Varia Capella also has the same meaning.[5] Falkirk Old Parish Church stands on the site of the medieval church, which may have been founded as early as the 7th century.[7]

The Antonine Wall, which stretches across the centre of Scotland, passed through the town and remnants of it can be seen at Callendar Park. Similar to Hadrian's Wall but built of turf rather than stone so less of it has survived, it marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire between the Firth of Forth and Firth of Clyde during the AD 140s.[8] Much of the best evidence of Roman occupation in Scotland has been found in Falkirk, including a large hoard of Roman coins and a cloth of tartan, thought to be the oldest ever recorded.[9] A Roman fort was confirmed to be found by Geoff Bailey in the Pleasance area of Falkirk in 1991.[10] A Roman themed park at Callendar House was awarded lottery funding to help raise awareness of the wall.[11]

In the 18th century the area was the cradle of Scotland's Industrial Revolution, becoming the earliest major centre of the iron-casting industry. James Watt cast some of the beams for his early steam engine designs at the Carron Iron Works in 1765. The area was at the forefront of canal construction when the Forth and Clyde Canal opened in 1790.[12] The Union Canal (1822) provided a link to Edinburgh and early railway development followed in the 1830s and 1840s.[13] The canals brought economic wealth to Falkirk and led to the town's growth. Through time, trunk roads and motorways followed the same canal corridors through the Falkirk area, linking the town with the rest of Scotland. Many companies set up work in Falkirk due to its expansion. A large brickworks was set up at this time, owned by the Howie family. During the 19th century, Falkirk became the first town in Great Britain to have a fully automated system of street lighting, designed and implemented by a local firm, Thomas Laurie & Co Ltd.[14]

Battles of Falkirk

Two important battles have taken place at Falkirk:

Government and politics

A map showing the boundaries of the Falkirk Council area, one of the 32 unitary authorities of Scotland. The town of Falkirk sits at the heart of the council area.

In terms of local government the town sits at the heart of Falkirk Council area, one of the 32 unitary authorities of Scotland formed by the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994. The headquarters of the council are located in the Municipal Buildings, adjacent to the former FTH Theatre, on West Bridge Street in the centre of town.[15] The Council was the first local government in Scotland to be governed by the Labour Party, in 1921.[16] It has been led by a Scottish National Party minority since 2017.[17] The current Leader of the Council is Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn.[18]

Falkirk is located within the Scottish parliamentary constituency of Falkirk West which elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) under the first past the post system.[19] The current MSP is Michael Matheson, who won the seat at the 2007 Scottish Parliament General Election. The previous MSP, Dennis Canavan, who sat as an Independent, was elected with the largest majority in the Scottish parliament representing Falkirk's electorate's displeasure with New Labour, but stepped down in 2007 for family reasons.[19] Canavan, who announced in an open letter to his constituents in January 2007, that he was stepping down from representative politics at the Scottish Parliament election, 2007 had been an MSP or MP for the area for over 30 years.[20] The constituency of Falkirk West also sits in the Central Scotland Scottish Parliament electoral region which returns seven MSPs under the additional member system used to elect Members of the Scottish Parliament.[21]

In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the town is entirely contained within the UK parliamentary constituency of Falkirk which elects one member to the House of Commons under the plurality system.[22] The constituency also takes in surrounding villages and is currently represented by John McNally of the Scottish National Party.[22] Traditionally, Falkirk had been seen as a stronghold for the Labour Party.[23]

Prior to Brexit in 2020 it was part of the pan-Scotland European Parliament constituency which elected six Members of the European Parliament (MEP)s using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.


Falkirk and Stenhousemuir, as seen from above
Falkirk and Stenhousemuir

Falkirk is located in an area of undulating topography between the Slamannan Plateau and the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth. The area to the north of Falkirk is part of the floodplain of the River Carron. Two tributaries of the River Carron - the East Burn and the West Burn flow through the town and form part of its natural drainage system.[24] Falkirk sits at between 50 metres (164 ft) and 125 metres (410 ft) above sea level.[25]

The underlying geology of the town of Falkirk is characterised by glacial deposits. Elevations above 100 metres (328 ft) are covered by a mixture of glacial till and boulder clay with low-lying areas covered by sandy soils and loams.[25] As Falkirk is not far from the coast, post-glacial features akin to raised beaches are particularly predominant to the north of the town centre, and this gives rise to differing elevations within the town.[25]

Unsorted glacial till gives rise to such features of glacial deposition as eskers, and drumlins which are predominant over much of the area. Such elements provide natural transport routes and it is this complex underlying geology that the town is built upon.[25]


Like much of the rest of Scotland, Falkirk has a temperate maritime climate, which is relatively mild despite its northerly latitude. Winters are especially mild given that Moscow and Labrador lie on the same latitude, with daytime temperatures rarely falling below 0 °C (32 °F). Summer temperatures are comparatively cool, with daily upper maxima rarely exceeding 23 °C (73 °F). The proximity of the town to the sea mitigates any large variations in temperature or extremes of climate. The prevailing wind direction is from the south-west, which is associated with warm, unstable air from the Gulf Stream that gives rise to rainfall. Winds from an easterly direction are usually drier but colder. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year. Vigorous Atlantic depressions - sometimes called European windstorms can affect the town between October and March. The highest recorded temperature was 31.5C in August 2010.

Climate data for Falkirk, elevation: 0 m or 0 ft, 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 7.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 114.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 15.4 11.8 13.6 9.4 10.8 10.3 11.1 11.6 12.2 13.3 14.3 13.5 147.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 40.2 69.8 96.7 126.1 169.8 150.2 153.6 143.9 111.8 81.9 52.8 32.0 1,228.6
Source: Met Office[26]


The United Kingdom Census 2001 identified the town as having a total resident population of 32,422.[27] The population was estimated at 34,570 in 2008[28] which makes the town the 20th most populous settlement in Scotland. The wider Falkirk area which includes Grangemouth, Larbert and Stenhousemuir has an overall population of 98,940 making this the 5th largest urban area after Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.[29] The population of the town and surrounding area is forecast to grow over the next ten years, primarily due to net in migration from other parts of Scotland and the UK.[30] Unemployment in the Falkirk area is low at 2.5%, below the Scottish average, but average household income and gross weekly pay are below the comparative Scottish and UK averages.

Falkirk Town skyline


Falkirk High Street with the Falkirk Steeple dominating the centre of the picture. Shops to the left and right are visible with many shoppers on the pedestrianised street.
The Kelpies at Helix Park

Today, the economy of Falkirk is focused on retail and services, in contrast to the heavy industries and manufacturing sectors which contributed to the growth of the town over the last 300 years. Falkirk is a large retail centre catering to the town itself and a wide surrounding area, stretching from Cumbernauld in the west to Bo'ness in the east.[31] The retailer Marks and Spencer opened a store in Falkirk Town Centre in 1936 but this closed in 2018 (the building is now a creative arts space).[31][32][33] The High Street was pedestrianised in the late 1980s, and the Howgate Shopping Centre opened in April 1990.[31] Another shopping centre, Callendar Square was opened in 1993 but finally closed in 2020.[34][35] A number of supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Scottish Co-op have developed on peripheral sites surrounding the town centre since the late 1990s.[36]

The public sector and public services also have a foothold in the Falkirk area. Falkirk Council is one of the largest employers in this sphere, with a workforce of over 7,000, many based at the council headquarters in the town centre.[15] One of the principal offices of the UK Child Support Agency, covering Scotland and the north east of England, is located in the Callendar Business Park on the outskirts of Falkirk.[37] Similarly the National Health Service (NHS) and Department for Work and Pensions have a presence in the town and employ local residents.

Many Falkirk residents are also employed within the petrochemicals sector based in neighbouring Grangemouth where there is an agglomeration of such industries underpinned by the Ineos (formerly BP) oil refinery located there.[38] Alexander Dennis, one of the world's largest bus manufacturers, is headquartered in Falkirk with the operations plant located nearby.[39]


Part of the golf course with a large tree on the left and a bunker at the bottom, there is a large high rise flat visible in the distance
Callendar House, situated in Callendar Park

Falkirk hosted a national arts festival which ran in Callendar Park from 2000–2009 called Big In Falkirk. After its inception in 2000, the festival won Scottish Thistle Award for Events & Festivals in 2005.[40] Consisting of a free weekend of events, the festival was one of the largest cultural events in Scotland, attracting over 100,000 people. Hosted in Falkirk's historical Callendar Park, the venue covers 180 acres (75 hectares) with Callendar House as the focal point, the entertainment featured a wide variety of outdoor theatre, pyrotechnic displays, arts, comedy and big name music acts, alongside activities for all ages.

Falkirk hosted the Royal National Mòd in 2008.[41] The Gold medals were won by Falkirk resident Lyle Kennedy and Kerrie Finlay from Inverness. Interest in Gaelic has grown in Falkirk since the Mòd and there are now five Gaelic organisations active in the Falkirk area: An Clas Gàidhlig (provides Gaelic lessons to adults), An Comunn Gàidhealach Meur na h-Eaglaise Brice (is the local branch of An Comunn Gàidhealach), Fèis Fhoirt (provides traditional music and Gaelic song tuition for children and adults), Falkirk Gaelic Forum (promotes Gaelic in Falkirk) and Falkirk Junior Gaelic Choir (is a long established and successful youth choir).


The historical Callendar House is an imposing mansion with a 600-year history which is now a public museum and open access parkland, with a cafe and shop. The Park Gallery, a contemporary art gallery is also based in the house.[42]

The Falkirk Wheel dominates the right of the picture with the tourist shop and restaurant dwarfed by the Wheel on the left, the bottom shows the marina with a boat in the centre
The Falkirk Wheel


Falkirk is administered by NHS Forth Valley, this includes the unitary authorities of Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire. Following the opening of the new Forth Valley Royal Hospital, the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary was renamed Falkirk Community Hospital[43] with many of the main services, including the accident and emergency unit being transferred.[43] Falkirk Community Hospital will still provide many services like podiatry and palliative care.[43] The Community Hospital continues to have a Minor Injury Unit, to treat emergency cases of a non life-threatening nature.[44] In-patient and community services at Bonnybridge Hospital will re-locate to Falkirk Community Hospital in 2012,[43] once new modern, en-suite accommodation has been developed. A new purpose built dental centre, Langlees Dental Centre, provides a "teach and treat" dental centre in the Langlees area of Falkirk opened in August 2009.[43] It has seven dental surgeries and is involved in training final year students at Glasgow Dental School.[43]


The Falkirk Wheel, the only rotary canal connector in the world, is located within Falkirk. The attraction was completed in 2002 and it connects the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal.[45]

On Falkirk High Street lies the Falkirk Steeple. The current building was built in 1814 and is protected as a category A listed building. A stylised image of the steeple appears on the crest of Falkirk Football Club. The Steeple is widely regarded as the centre point of the town. Nearby, on Cow Wynd is the Tattie Kirk, a Category B listed octagonal former church built in 1804, adjacent to its former graveyard.[46][47]

The FTH Theatre (the "Falkirk Town Hall Theatre") in West Bridge Street was commissioned to replace the old town hall in Newmarket Street which was demolished in 1968.[48] In 2022, it was announced that the Town Hall and FTH Theatre would close as the building required significant renovation.[49] In 2023, it was announced that the Council would purchase the empty former Callendar Square shopping centre. The centre is due to be demolished in 2024 with a view to constructing a combined new town hall, theatre, library and civic space for Falkirk.[50][51]

Alongside the M9 between Falkirk and Grangemouth, The Kelpies are 30-metre-high (98 ft) horse-head sculptures depicting kelpies (shape-shifting water spirits). They are part of Helix Park, a land transformation project to improve the connections between and around communities in Falkirk.[52]



The Falkirk Area occupies a central position in Scotland, with direct access from the key north-south and east-west motorway networks: the M9 from the north and east and the M876 from the west. Falkirk has main rail and canal routes within easy reach from Edinburgh and Glasgow; it is central to access to both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. Falkirk is well situated both for access by rail from England and for access to other parts of Scotland excluding Fife, which has no direct rail link to Falkirk other than morning and evening commuter services from Kirkcaldy to Glasgow. Road access is to Fife provided by the Kincardine Bridge, Clackmannanshire Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge, via the M9.


A view from a bridge down onto the railway tracks of Falkirk Grahamston Station. The main building on the left and a waiting room on the right side of the tracks with another road bridge in the distance
The view from the footbridge at Falkirk Grahamston, looking east.

Falkirk has two railway stations: Falkirk High and Falkirk Grahamston.

Falkirk High is on the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line, with connections to either city running on a 15-minute frequency. At peak times, 8 trains per hour stop: 4 for Glasgow Queen Street via Croy and 4 for Edinburgh Waverley, via Polmont and Linlithgow. Journey times to Edinburgh vary from 24 minutes to 35 minutes, depending on stopping stations and time of day; the journey time is between 18 and 28 minutes to Glasgow.

Falkirk Grahamston lies on the Edinburgh to Dunblane Line. To Edinburgh Waverley, there are 4 trains per hour, with journey times varying from 25 minutes to 34 minutes; faster trains stop at Edinburgh Park and Haymarket, slower trains additionally stop at Polmont and Linlithgow. To Glasgow Queen Street, there are 2 trains per hour via the Cumbernauld Line with journey times from 39 minutes to 43 minutes, plus an evening express service (the 17.33 from Glasgow to Markinch) taking 26 minutes. There is also a daily direct service to/from London (King's Cross) provided by London North Eastern Railway and the Caledonian Sleeper to London Euston in the southbound direction only also calls here. Formerly, direct rail services were also provided from Falkirk Grahamston station to Grangemouth, Alloa and the Hillfoots, and Fife. The original buildings at Grahamston Station were replaced by the present modern buildings in 1985. They serve 950,000 passenger journeys each year.


Falkirk bus station lies in the town centre and has bus routes providing links to the cities of Stirling, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as local routes.[53]


a side view of the Falkirk College Campus building with the main entrance at the bottom right and the road entering the campus at the bottom left
Forth Valley College, Falkirk Campus

Falkirk is home to one of the four campuses of Forth Valley College which was formed on 1 August 2005 from the merger of Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannan colleges. The Falkirk Campus is by far the largest of the four campuses.

Secondary schools

Falkirk District is served by eight high schools which have all been recently rebuilt.

School Roll Opened Catchment area
Bo'ness Academy Originally 1931, rebuilt 2000 Blackness, Bo'ness Public, Deanburn, Grange, and Kinneil Primary Schools
Braes High School 2000 Avonbridge, California, Drumbowie, Maddiston, Shieldhill and Wallacestone Primary Schools
Denny High School Originally 1959 Denny, Nethermains, Dunipace, Head of Muir, Bankier and Bonnybridge Primary Schools
Falkirk High School 1,200 Originally 1886, rebuilt 2010 Bainsford, Bantaskin, Carmuirs, Comely Park, Easter Carmuirs, Langlees, Limerigg and Slamannan Primary Schools
Graeme High School 1,200 Originally 1930, rebuilt 2000 Hallglen, Laurieston, St. Margaret's, Victoria, Westquarter and Whitecross Primary Schools
Grangemouth High School 810 rebuilt 2009 Bowhouse, Beancross, and Moray Primary Schools
Larbert High School 1,700 Originally 1885, rebuilt 2000 Airth, Bothkennar, Carron, Carronshore, Kinnaird, Ladeside, Larbert Village and Stenhousemuir Primary Schools
St. Mungo's High School 1,200 Originally 1953, rebuilt 2009 Falkirk area


Falkirk is served by a weekly newspaper, the Falkirk Herald, which is published by Johnston Press. The company was established by the Johnston family from Falkirk, who have been involved in publishing since 1767. The family acquired the Herald, their first newspaper, in 1846. The publishing company was renamed F Johnston & Co Ltd in 1882, a title it would retain until it was floated on the London Stock Exchange as Johnston Press in 1988. The corporate headquarters of Johnston Press are now in Edinburgh, but the company retains two offices in Falkirk and Grangemouth.


The 2001 census[54] showed the majority of the population claim to belong to one of the Christian denominations with 48% of these being Church of Scotland, 12% being Roman Catholic, and 5% belonging to other Christian denominations. 29% of people belong to no religion, about 1% above the national figure.

The Church of Scotland's Presbytery of Falkirk includes congregations in Bo'ness, Bonnybridge, Cumbernauld, Grangemouth and Larbert, as well as Falkirk.




Falkirk currently has three men's football teams, Falkirk Football Club, Stenhousemuir F.C. and East Stirlingshire Football Club.

An evening game at a football stadium. The main stand on the right is filled with spectators and the empty pitch is being prepared for playing on the left
The main stand of the Falkirk Stadium

Falkirk F.C. was founded in 1876 and was elected to compete in the Scottish Football League in 1902. The club's highest ranking came in the 1907–08 season and once again in 1909–10 when the club finished runners-up of Division One, the country's top football division, losing out to Celtic F.C. on both occasions. The club has reached the final of the Scottish Cup on five occasions, emerging victorious twice in 1913 and 1957 respectively. The club currently competes in the Scottish League One and plays their home games at the Falkirk Stadium near Grangemouth.

The town's other men's club, East Stirlingshire F.C., was founded in 1881 originally as Bainsford Britannia and has competed in the Scottish Football League since 1900. The club has predominantly played in the lower leagues of Scottish football, spending only two whole seasons in the top division after being promoted from Division Two in 1931–32 and 1962–63. The club currently competes in the Lowland Football League and from the 2018-19 season will play their home games at the Falkirk Stadium following a groundshare agreement with Falkirk F.C. Firs Park was the home of the club for the majority of the club's existence but was vacated at the end of the 2007/08 season.


Falkirk currently has two women's football teams, Central Girls Football Academy and Falkirk Ladies. Central play in the second tier (SWPL2) and Falkirk play in the third tier (SWFL) of women's football.[55]

Roller Derby

Falkirk is home to Scotland's first Co-ed Roller Derby League. Clubs from the area are the Skelpies men's team, the Central Belters women's team and the Belter Skelpers Co-ed team.[56]


Falkirk Rugby Club can trace their roots to 1906 when F.R.F.C. was first formed. It was disbanded at the start of World War I. In 1972 the club was resurrected when the works team from ICI Grangemouth decided to become "open" and looked for a new home. They initially played at Stirling Road playing fields before building their clubhouse at the present site at Sunnyside in 1981. The club has risen through the ranks of rugby winning six consecutive promotions, five of them as league champions, a Scottish record.[citation needed]


Falkirk also has a Hockey team, Falkirk GHG Hockey Club, which was formed from the merger of Graeme High School Former Pupils Hockey Club and Grangemouth Hockey Club in 1999. It now has four men's teams which play in various leagues, with their first team playing in the national league.


Falkirk Fury Basketball Club, currently called Clark Eriksson Fury Basketball Club in a sponsorship deal with local firm Clark Eriksson, represents the town in the sport.[57] The team was established in 1992 and originally consisted of players from Falkirk High School and sports development players.[57] Today the team competes in all 6 Scottish National Age Groups. The men's side currently competes in the Scottish Men's National League, the top league in Scottish basketball and is considered the second tier of British basketball below the BBL and in line with the English Basketball League.[57] The club plays home games at the Mariner Centre in Camelon or sometimes at the Grangemouth sports complex.


Falkirk Boxing Club was once running above the town's oldest pub The Wheatsheaf bar and bore such names as welterweight Jim Boyle and heavyweight Dearn Savage.


Falkirk has a number of archery clubs in and around the greater Falkirk area:

Twin towns

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom

Falkirk is twinned with:

Notable people

Art and literature

James Aitken, Falkirk writer died 1818

Business and industry


Media and entertainment

Politics and society

Science and technology

Sport and recreation


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