Statement of Special Interest
The Titan Cantilever Crane and former Fitting Out Dock formed part of one of the largest shipyards on the Clyde, responsible for major ocean going liners including both Queen Marys and the Empress of Britain. The crane is the first example of the development of the giant crane by the internationally important company of Sir William Arrol and Co. The crane and Fitting out Basin form a striking landmark and are an outstanding example of Scottish engineering on an internmational scale.
The crane cost £24,600 to build following its design by Arrol's and it is about 160 ft high, has cantilever frames 150 ft and 90 ft long and a capacity of 150 tons. The machinery, excluding the roller path, was sub-contracted to Stothert and Pitt The crane was located on the fitting out dock to lift heavy items, such as boilers, into the ships being fitted out by the yard. Around 42 giant cantilever cranes were constructed worldwide and the Glasgow firm of Arrol's were responsible for 40. 27 were located in Britain. There are 3 other surviving examples of similar cranes on the Clyde at the North British Diesel Engine Works, and at the James Watt Dock in Greenock (see separate listings) and the Finnestoun Crane at Stobcross Quay.
The success of John Brown's as a world leading shipyard, located in Clydebank, was attributable, in part, to the lifting capacity of the Titan, which was not available in many other shipyards. This lifting capacity helped John Brown's win many contracts, in particular for the construction of a large number of ocean going liners, including both Queen Mary liners.
The crane passed its commissioning tests and was accepted by John Browns on 24 April 1907. Despite being a major target during the war, the Crane and shipyard survived the devastating Clydebank Blitz in March 1941.
The Clydebank Yard, which preceded the renamed John Brown Shipyard, was founded in 1870 by J and G Thomson, although the fitting out dock and Titan Crane date from the re-organisation of the yard between 1890 and 1914. The yard consisted of two berths flanking the large fitting out basin. A number of buildings, mostly 3 and 4 storey in brick housed the offices stores. These have now been demolished (2011).
Clydebank Shipyard was originally owned by J and G Thomson who had moved to Clydebank in 1870. However, the yard was not particularly successful. The ailing yard was acquired by John Brown and Company, Sheffield forgemasters and armour plate-makers in 1899. John Brown's presided over the yard through the height of its success, commissioning the Titan Crane and completing contracts for some of the most prestigious examples of British shipping.
Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), and the company he founded are one of the pre-eminent engineering companies in the world, and completed contracts for a wide range of engineering projects in Scotland and further afield. Initially the company was based in Dalmarnock, Glasgow, before later incorporating the Parkhead Crane works in Nuneaton Street. Arrol was the principal contractor for both the Forth and Tay rail bridges (see separate listings) which were the two most substantial bridges in the world at the time of their completion. The company also built Tower Bridge in London and a bridge over the Nile at Cairo. In addition to bridges the company was responsible for a number of giant cantilever cranes and provided gantry cranes and other fittings to hydroelectric power stations throughout Scotland. Arrol's were also responsible for the Bankside Power Station in London, now Tate Modern.
(Statutory address and list description updated 2012).
DC27739,71 and 74, (1907), in William Arrol collection RCAHMS. Sir William Arrol and Company Limited Bridges, Structural Steel Work, and Mechanical Engineering Productions,(1909) partly reprinted from 'Engineering' London, p146, 148 147, 149. J R Hume The industrial archaeology of Scotland, 1, Lowlands and Borders London, (1976), p113. Baker, 'Queen's Quay, Clydebank (Old Kilpatrick parish), survey', Discovery Excavation Scotland, (2004s) vol.5, p131. Paxton and Shipway, Civil engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders, (2007) p185. http://www.titanclydebank.com/history.aspx (accessed 30.11.11).
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