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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 with the tower built by Cowans, Sheldon & Company of Carlisle and the cantilever by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company. It is situated at 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, and the fact that it was intended to replace the previous Finnieston Crane, 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)
Connected to a spur of the Stobcross Railway, the crane's primary purpose was the lifting of heavy machinery – mainly Springburn's then renowned steam locomotives – onto ships for export. With the decline of locomotive manufacturing and other heavy engineering in the city during the 1960s, 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. Pre-dating those uses, It has been the Logo of Clydeside Television Productions since 1986. It stands as a symbol to the industrial heartland that Glasgow and Clydeside 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 worldwide. Now less than 15 remain in existence. Remarkably, four out of six that were built on Clydeside remain (though none are operational):
- The Finnieston Crane at Stobcross Quay
- The crane at Barclay Curle's former North British Engine Works in Whiteinch
- The Titan Clydebank crane at the former John Brown and Company Shipyard at Clydebank
- The crane in James Watt Dock at Greenock.
Three 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 Rigby Street. Arrol were the world leaders in building this type of crane. The Finnieston crane was built by Cowans Sheldon of Carlisle on foundations built by Arrol.
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 Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at the BAE Systems Surface Ships (ex Fairfield) yard.
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 Clarke Chapman in the 1970s. The famous Dalmarnock Ironworks was closed and demolished in 1986 but at least seven of their Giant Cantilever Cranes are still in existence.
- Big Blue (crane)
- Breakwater Crane Railway
- Fairbairn steam crane
- Kockums Crane
- Left Coast Lifter
- Samson and Goliath (cranes)
- Titan Clydebank
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Finnieston Crane.|
- Photographs of the Finnieston Crane in Glasgow
- History of the crane
- The straw locomotive
- Finnieston Quay and Crane
- TheGlasgowStory's page on the crane
- grid reference NS570651
- The actual 130 ton Finnieston Steam Crane (bottom left)
- Finnieston Crane AERIAL ART by Michael Murray, Digital Artist
- Finnieston Crane history - Clyde Waterfront Heritage