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Titan crane, Clydebank
Queens Quay, Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, UK
Titan crane, Clydebank
associated engineer
Sir William Arrol & Co. Ltd
Adam Hunter
date  1906 - 24th April 1907, 2005 - July 2007
era  Modern  |  category  Machinery, industrial  |  reference  NS494697
ICE reference number  HEW 2484
photo  © and licensed for reuse under this
The Titan crane on Queens Quay at Clydebank, west of Glasgow, is the oldest giant cantilever crane in the world. Fewer than 60 such cranes were built worldwide, the overwhelming majority of them by Sir William Arrol & Co — at May 2011 it was thought that only 11 were extant, four of them along the River Clyde. The Clydebank crane is no longer operational but has been refurbished and can be visited.
Clydebank shipbuilder John Brown & Co Ltd awarded Arrol a design and build contract for the crane in December 1905. They specified an overhead rotating cantilever with a fixed jib. Sometimes called a hammerhead crane because of its shape, this type came to be much used in ship construction and for loading extremely heavy items, such as locomotives, into vessels. Construction of the Clydebank crane began in 1906.
The Titan, weighing in at more than 800 tonnes, was erected at the Brown’s shipyard, the former site of which is just north of the crane's location. Its steel frame is 49m high, with cantilever frames 45.7m and 27.4m long, rotating above a square lattice girder tower some 12m wide. The crane is founded on boulder clay on four concrete piles extending 23m below ground level. The centreline of the tower is just 10.7m from the edge of the quay.
The steel superstructure was bolted together in sections, adjusted for alignment and then riveted. Pieces of the sub-assembly and the machinery were lifted into place either by manually operated derricks or a steam-powered crane, depending upon weight.
For versatility, the crane was equipped with two hoists. The main one was capable of lifting 152 tonnes, and the auxilliary 30.5 tonnes. Its operating machinery (except the roller path) was supplied by Stothert & Pitt of Bath. The original lifting capacity was increased to 203 tonnes in 1938, when World War II navy ships, such as the battleship HMS Duke of York (keel laid 1937, launched 1940), were being fitted out. Though Clydebank suffered in the heavy enemy bombing of March 1941, the Titan was not damaged.
All the remaining Titan cranes along the Clyde are Category A listed structures. Two were also constructed by Arrol and are each capable of lifting 152 tonnes. They can be found at James Watt Dock, Greenock (1917), and Scotstoun, Glasgow (1920). The third was built by Cowans Sheldon & Co Ltd at Stobcross Quay, Glasgow (1931) and has a lifting capacity of 178 tonnes. A fifth was demolished in 2007.
As shipbuilding, and later oil rig construction, at the site dwindled, the Clydebank Titan became neglected. It was last used in the mid 1980s, and was designated Category A in April 1989. The shipyard closed on 31st July 2001 and was dismantled in 2002.
Clydebank Rebuilt Ltd, a local urban regeneration company, acquired 4ha of the site, including the crane, in 2004. Work to restore it began the following year and was completed in July 2007 under engineer Arup's supervision, at a cost of about £3.75m. The task included installing a lift tower and illuminating the structure after dark. It is open to the public between May and September, and can accommodate up to 60 people on the jib. The original operating machinery has been preserved.
Operating machinery: Stothert & Pitt of Bath
Architect (2007): Collective Architecture
Contractor (2007): MacLean & Speirs Group Ltd
Quantity surveyors (2007): Armours Construction Consultants
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH SLB

Titan crane, Clydebank