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Scottish fact of the week: Finnieston Crane

Deacon Blue singer Ricky Ross photographed in front of the Finnieston Crane. Picture: Robert Perry

Deacon Blue singer Ricky Ross photographed in front of the Finnieston Crane. Picture: Robert Perry

THE Finnieston Crane is one of Glasgow’s most iconic monuments - and one of its most unusual.

It is a 174 ft high cantilever crane built in the 1920s, and it began operating in 1932 with the rather unornamental job of lifting railway carriages, engines and other heavy structures onto ships docked on the River Clyde.

As Scotland’s manufacturing sector declined in subsequent decades, so did the use of the crane. It was last operational in 1988 - the docks that housed the crane were closed much earlier, in 1969. At the time of its construction, it was the largest hammer-head crane of its type in Europe - now, it is one of only 11 cantilever cranes in existence.

Initially called the Stobcross Crane (or, to give it its much stiffer formal title, the Clyde Navigation Trustees crane #7), the structure is a permanent reminder of Glasgow’s once-mighty industrial past, but the city’s current inhabitants - especially artists - have made use of the crane’s dominance of the skyline.

A giant straw sculpture in the shape of a locomotive, designed by Scottish artist George Wyllie, was hung from the crane in 1987. As a tribute to Wyllie, who passed away in 2012, a question mark was hung from the crane in tribute. Lately, the crane has been a temporary pub, a musical instrument, and a vertigo-inducing platform for stunt cycling.

 

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