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The Finnieston Crane and the North Rotunda
The Finnieston Crane sitting beside the River Clyde

The Finnieston Crane is a crane and landmark in Glasgow, Scotland. It is now disused but is retained as a symbol of the city's engineering heritage.

Contents

History

The crane was commissioned in 1926 by the Clyde Navigation Trust, the operators of the port and dock facilities in Glasgow. It was completed in 1932 by Cowans, Sheldon & Company of Carlisle on the Stobcross Quay on the north bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow, and cost a total of £52,351. It is officially known as the Stobcross Crane (or, to the navigation trust as Clyde Navigation Trustees crane #7), but its proximity to Finnieston Quay has led to its being popularly known as the Finnieston Crane. It is a Giant-cantilever crane, measuring 50.24metres (165 ft) tall with a 77 metre (253 ft) cantilever jib . It has a lifting capacity of 175 tons. It can be ascended either by a steel staircase or an electric lift. The actual Finnieston Crane was located a bit further upriver on the site now occupied by the City Inn. It was a 130 ton steam crane built in the 1890s and a sister crane was built in the Princes Dock in front of Govan Town Hall. A third heavy lift crane, called the Clyde Villa crane was located on Plantation Quay at the berth now occupied by the paddle steamer Waverley (the quay was renamed Pacific Quay in the past few years)

Purpose

Connected to a spur of the Stobcross Railway, the crane's primary purpose was to lift massive boilers and engines onto new ships; at the time Glasgow was one of the leading shipbuilding cities in the world. With the decline of the shipbuilding industry, the crane survived with a secondary use, loading heavy machinery – mainly Springburn's then renowned locomotives – for export. With the downturn in seafaring trade, use of the crane continued to decline and it fell completely into disuse in the early 1990s.

Today the crane remains as a landmark, a Category A listed structure, and one of the most identifiable images of Glasgow. During the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival (sited on the Princes Dock on the opposite bank of the river) a full-size replica locomotive, made from straw by local sculptor George Wyllie, was suspended from the crane. The crane's image is used extensively in the media, including by BBC Scotland news programmes and for the quintessentially Glaswegian crime drama Taggart. It stands as a symbol to the industrial heartland that Glasgow and the Clyde were in the early to mid-20th century, and of the downturn of those industries. The docks having long since been filled in to be replaced with the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and the Clyde Auditorium. The North Rotunda (part of the defunct Clyde Harbour Tunnel) stands next to the crane.

Other cantilever cranes

The crane was one of only around 60 giant cantilever cranes ever built world wide. Now less than 15 remain in existence.

Remarkably, four out of six that were built on Clydeside remain (though none are operational) - this crane on Stobcross Quay, The crane at Barclay Curle's North British Engine Works in Whiteinch, the John Brown and Company Titan at Clydebank and the crane in James Watt Dock at Greenock. All of the remaining Clydeside cranes were built by the Glasgow firm of Sir William Arrol & Co. at their Dalmarnock Ironworks in Dunn Street and Parkhead Crane Works in Nuneaton Street. Arrol were the world leaders in building this type of crane. The other two cranes on Clydeside were the at William Beardmore and Company's Naval Construction Works in Dalmuir and at Fairfield's Shipyard in Govan. The Dalmuir crane was the first one to be built - by the Glasgow Electric Crane & Hoist Company under licence from the German Company, Benrather. The Fairfield Crane was built by Arrol and was the largest crane in the world when erected at Govan in 1911. It was demolished in 2007 to make way for construction of the huge sections of the aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales at the BVT Surface Fleet (ex Fairfield) yard between 2010 an 2016. The Dalmuir crane was the only true 'hammerhead' crane of the six on Clydeside although the others were often called hammerheads. It was used latterly by Babcock & Wilcox Ltd of Renfrew when they occupied part of the former Dalmuir shipyard in the 1960s. The Dalmuir crane was demolished in the 1970s. The Glasgow Electric Crane & Hoist Co was short lived and their works were taken over by Arrol in 1911. Arrol became part of the Tyneside based NEI Group in the 1970s. The famous Dalmarnock Ironworks was closed and demolished in the 1980s but at least seven of their Giant Cantilever Cranes are still in existence.

External links

Coordinates: 55°51′28″N 4°17′10″W / 55.85782°N 4.28620°W / 55.85782; -4.28620

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