Glasgow’s Finest: The Finnieston Crane
Finnieston is now a Glasgow hub. This part of town has been transformed from an industrial wasteland into a vibrant location packed full of students and Glasgow hipsters and no wonder this up-and-coming neighbourhood is full of the city’s coolest bars and restaurants. It is near by some of the best museums in Glasgow as well as the Glasgow Riverside Museum. A short walk away from this area you will find the Finnieston Crane one of Glasgow’s most identifiable landmarks.
The Finnieston Crane
If you have ever driven by the famous Glasgow Clyde then it is safe bet that you will have seen the Finnieston Crane (also known as the Stobcross Crane) on your travels. This Glasgow landmark is the largest of the cantilever cranes, of which four remain along the river.
Last but not least as this crane was built and erected in 1931. The purpose of this crane was to load huge locomotives, a major export and Glasgow’s second most important engineering industry. Still, to this day, the Finnieston Crane is in working order, proving that Glaswegians know the industrial scene better than any other UK city. This crane is world famous.
James Cowan, a local author from the Glasgow area once described a trip up the crane and to the far end of the jib in 1935: ‘A noticeable peculiarity of each lateral movement was that it was not continuous, but took place in gentle jerks of a few inches at a time. The object of this is to prevent the load at the end of the cables acquiring a swinging motion, which would soon render the accurate placing of any load a matter of great difficulty and danger…I saw the heavy machinery … placed in a few minutes into a space where there was hardly an inch to spare on one side or the other, all the directions during this delicate operation being conveyed to the craneman by signs, and blasts on a whistle…’
Glaswegians are very proud of their industrial heritage and the Finnieston Crate. It was built by the Carlisle firm Cowans, Sheldon & Co. At the time it was the largest hammerhead crane in Europe.In terms of capacity, it can hold 175 tons. It is 175 ft high with a 152 ft jib which could make a full revolution, of 1,000 ft at the tip of the jib, in 3½ minutes.
Glasgow shipyard can be found just a stone’s throw away from these locations. The crane was added to the area so it could load heavy locomotives for export but it was also used for fit ships’ engines for yards which lacked their own fitting out dock, and to load heavy armaments into warships.
You will find the Finnieston Crane in a number of west end Instagram posts, however, it has captured our hearts for many years. It was back in 1987 the Glasgow sculptor George Wylie created a memorable and poignant artwork, The Straw Locomotive, for the Finnieston Crane in 1987. Made from straw in the form of a full-size locomotive, the sculpture processed slowly through the streets, then dangled from the crane for two weeks, twisting slowly in the wind, before being brought down and set ablaze, as a commemoration of this once vital industry.