Glasgow’s Finnieston crane – locally known as Big Cran – looks to be all-set for a £7m makeover which will ensure its survival as an icon of the city’s industrial heritage and past, if an ambitious restoration plan comes to fruition, reports Hugh Dougherty.
Also referred to as the Stobcross Cran – as Glaswegians have traditionally dropped the ‘e’ on crane – the giant cantilever structure was built in 1931 by Cowans, Sheldon & Co and the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company. It hoisted thousands of Glasgow-built steam and diesel locomotives on to ships at Stobcross Quay for export round the world, until the North British Locomotive Company closed in 1962.
Now, community interest company the Big Cran Co plans to build a restaurant at the base of the 152-foot-high steel giant, as well as a visitor centre and a museum, recalling the crane’s railway and shipping heritage. Plans are also being considered for the installation of a lift that would take visitors to the top of the job for spectacular view over the river and the city.
The company has leased the crane from Peel Ports, and is working with investors in the public and private sectors to advance the project, which would create 50 much-needed jobs in the Finnieston area.
Big Cran Company chairman, former Scottish Government minister Alan Wilson, said: “We believe this plan would have enormous benefit to the local community, and would preserve a unique and iconic piece of Scotland’s industrial heritage. The crane played an important part in Glasgow’s industrial past, and we want to make sure that it remains relevant. It would be great for future generations to understand its story.”
The cost of restoring the crane has been estimated at £5m, with other parts of the planned project boosting the total funding required to £7m. The company has already applied to Historic Environment Scotland for a £300,000 grant and, encouragingly, the project has received popular support among Glaswegian politicians and citizens alike.
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