Scotland's Surviving Titan Cranes

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright January 2017, Thomas Nugent; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


What Is A Titan Crane?

The name Titan comes from Greek mythology. The Titans were a group of giant, powerful deities who preceded the Gods of Olympia.

A Titan Crane is a giant and powerful cantilever crane, similar in design to a hammerhead crane, but which is portable on rails (hammerhead cranes are static and must be dismantled to be moved).

Titan cranes were designed and constructed mostly in the early 20th Century to move heavy loads horizontally. The design included a fixed counterweight and electric hoists, mounted on a high rotating beam. This made the Titans faster and more efficient (they could be one-man-operated) than other cranes at the time.

Titans were used mainly in shipyards where they would be used to lift the engines or other heavy components onto ships under construction. They were also installed in dockyards where they would lift heavy items (such as railway locomotives) into the hold of cargo ships. Hopefully there would be a Titan crane at the destination to lift it out.


History of the Titans

42 Titan cranes were constructed around the world, 40 of which were built or designed by the Glasgow firm of Sir William Arroll Bros. Of these, 27 were located in Britain. The number of surviving Titans is dwindling and most of the British ones are no longer in use.

The two non-Arrol Titans were built by the Motherwell Bridge Engineering Company (exported to Nagasaki, Japan) and Babcock & Wilcox of Renfrew (exported to Singapore). The Nagasaki Titan is still in use by Mitsubishi Industries today LinkExternal link . Titans were also exported from Scotland to Australia. Historic Environment Scotland reported in 2014 that only 11 Titans survive around the world.

Surviving Scottish Titans

All of the surviving Scottish Titans are to be found on the River Clyde. All are Category A Listed by Historic Environment Scotland and all are currently disused. They are listed below in order if heading downstream from Glasgow.

Stobcross

Construction DateBuilderClientIndustryCapacityCurrent StatusLink to HES Listing
1926-1931Cowans Sheldon and Co Ltd, CarlisleClyde Navigation TrustDocks175 TonsPreservedStobcross ListingExternal link

Also known as the Finnieston Crane, this Titan is a popular landmark on the north bank of the river, near the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. The SECC was built on the Queens Dock complex and the crane is one of the few remaining dock relics to be seen at the site today.

This crane features in many historical photos which show railway locomotives large and small being loaded onto ships for delivery around the world. Glasgow was a centre of locomotive manufacturing and locomotives were drawn through the streets from the works to the docks on low loader trucks. In 1987 local sculptor, the late George WyllieExternal link hung a life-sized straw locomotive from the crane for seven weeks, before setting it on fire.

HES informs that Stobcross was the only example of a personnel lift ever fitted to a British crane (not true today since the Clydebank Titan now has one). HES also informs that this was the only British crane ever fitted with a horizontal rail for the Jigger hoist handling light loads.

NS5765 : The Finnieston Crane with a straw locomotive by Elliott Simpson
The Finnieston Crane was used to load locomotives for export onto ships on the Clyde. In 1987 a straw locomotive was created and hung from the crane as a reminder of this era.
by Elliott Simpson


NS5765 : The Finnieston Crane by Thomas Nugent NS5765 : Finnieston Crane by Thomas Nugent NS5765 : Hilton Garden Inn by Thomas Nugent NS5765 : Stobcross Quay and the Finnieston Crane by Ben Brooksbank NS5765 : The Finnieston Crane by Thomas Nugent NS5765 : Finnieston Crane by Thomas Nugent NS5765 : Crane and Casino, Finnieston, Glasgow by wfmillar NS5765 : Finnieston Crane by Johnny Durnan NS5765 : Finnieston Crane by Richard Sutcliffe NS5765 : The Finnieston Crane, Stobcross Quay by kim traynor

Whiteinch

Construction DateBuilderClientIndustryCapacityCurrent StatusLink to HES Listing
1920Sir William Arrol & Co Ltd, GlasgowBarclay Curle North British Diesel Engine WorksShipyard150 TonsDerelictWhiteinch ListingExternal link

Built for the engine works of the Barclay Curle shipyard at Whiteinch, where shipbuilding ceased in 1968. The engine works survived until nationalisation of the shipyards in 1977. A scrap metal business operates there now.

This is the least geographed of the Clyde Titans due to its relatively remote location and lack of accessible viewpoints on both sides of the river.

NS5366 : Barclay Curle Titan Crane by Thomas Nugent
At the former Clydeholm shipyard at Whiteinch on the Upper Clyde. The yard now appears to be used as a scrapyard. Viewed from the Braehead pontoon, from where the Titan Crane at Clydebank can also be seen NS5168 : The Clyde from Braehead.

There are four Titan cranes on the Clyde, the others being at Greenock NS2975 : James Watt Dock Titan crane and Finnieston NS5765 : Finnieston Crane.
by Thomas Nugent


NS5267 : BAE Systems Scotstoun shipyard by Thomas Nugent NS5366 : Remnants of Shipbuilding on the Clyde by Chris Upson NS5366 : Doon The Watter, 25th June 2011 : Barclay Curle & Co. Ltd, Whiteinch, Glasgow by Richard West NS5366 : Crane at Barclay Curle shipyard, disused now by david smith NS5267 : Loading scrap on the Clyde by The Carlisle Kid



Clydebank

Construction DateBuilderClientIndustryCapacityCurrent StatusLink to HES Listing
1907Sir William Arrol and Co Ltd, Glasgow in collaboration with Stothert and Pitt Ltd, BathJohn Brown and CompanyShipyard150 Tons (uprated to 200 tons in 1937)Visitor CentreClydebank ListingExternal link

This is the oldest surviving Titan in the world and it is open to the public on a seasonal basis. Check the visitor centre's websiteExternal link to confirm the opening times before visiting.

Clydebank is synonymous with shipbuilding and with the name John Brown. The yard produced some of the greatest ships in the world, including RMS Lusitania, HMS Hood, HMS Repulse, RMS Queen Mary, RMS Queen Elizabeth and SS Queen Elizabeth 2.

As shipbuilding dwindled in the late 1960s, the yard diversified, manufacturing industrial gas turbines and later oil rigs, but not under the John Brown name. The last ship to be built at the yard, the Clyde-class bulk grain carrier MV Alisa, was completed in 1972.

In 2013, four leading engineering groups (the American Society of Civil Engineers Board of Direction, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers) came together to designate the crane an International Historic Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark. This was the first time all four institutions had come together to make such an award.

NS4969 : Titan Crane, Clydebank by Leslie Barrie
Overhead rotating cantilever steel crane erected 1907 by Sir William Arrol & Co at John Brown's Shipyard. Now a visitor attraction. Bungee jumping is also available.
by Leslie Barrie


NS4969 : Titan crane from the air by Thomas Nugent NS4969 : Titan Crane, Clydebank by Chris Upson NS4969 : Clydebank's Titan Crane by Stephen Sweeney NS4969 : Titan Clydebank office by Stephen Sweeney NS4969 : Viewing platform of the Clydebank Titan Crane by Stephen Sweeney NS4969 : Clydebank College and the Titan crane from the air by Thomas Nugent NS4969 : Titan Crane by danny kearney NS4969 : The Titan Crane from below by Lairich Rig NS4969 : The Titan Crane - winch-room by Lairich Rig NS4969 : John Brown shipyard by Ewan Carmichael Douglas


Greenock

Construction DateBuilderClientIndustryCapacityCurrent StatusLink to HES Listing
1917Sir William Arrol and Co Ltd, GlasgowGreenock Harbour TrustDocks150 TonsPreservedGrenock ListingExternal link

The Greenock crane is located at the James Watt Dock in the east end of the town. It is the only surviving Titan on the south bank of the Clyde. Inaccessible to the public, it stands between a housing estate and the boatyard of James Watt Dock Marina.

NS2975 : James Watt Dock Titan crane by Thomas Nugent
The Category A Listed crane LinkExternal link was built during WWI and dominates the scene from Ratho Street railway bridge.
by Thomas Nugent


NS2975 : James Watt Dock Titan crane by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : Titan crane by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : Crane at James Watt Dock by Lynn M Reid NS2975 : James Watt Dock Titan crane by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : James Watt Dock Titan crane by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : Cappielow Park and Titan crane by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : James Watt Dock by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : James Watt Dock by Thomas NugentNS2975 : Tall ship Glenlee and Titan crane by Thomas Nugent NS2975 : Crane at the James Watt Dock by Lairich Rig



KML
You are not logged in login | register