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Report - 1912 Hammerhead Crane, Isle of Wight - April 2016

Discussion in 'High Stuff' started by b3n, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. b3n

    b3n onehundredandthirtythree
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    [​IMG]

    History
    This 80 ton cantilever crane was built for J.S.White's shipyard in Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1912 primarily to aid in the building of warships for the British Navy. The crane was decommissioned in 2004.

    This is the only remaining example of a pre-war hammerhead crane in England and is currently undergoing restoration thanks to a grant from English Heritage.

    More detailed history on the crane and J.S. Whites available here http://woottonbridgeiow.org.uk/hammerhead.php

    An archive picture of the crane alongside 2 destroyers c1930

    [​IMG]

    The Climb

    We approached the shipyard late at night. Walking down dim moonlit streets, the smell of salt and marine diesel in the air we surveyed the landward side of the docks until we found what we needed. Away from the security and cameras we made it into the yard.

    This was my first crane and although it's girth makes it appear stocky from a distance as we approached it its 50 meter height became apparent. Towering above the warehouses and masts of ships moored in the marina the black silhouette peers ominously towards the sky. Passing Heras fence we began our assent of the scaffold wrapped tower. Birds screamed and circled as we progressed up the ladders and platforms, past the ancient control room and climbing up the rusty gear mechanisms we reached the upper platform. The floor boards are old and rotten, the metal rails corroded and brittle. I stop to attach lanyards and make my way out to see the views across the Solent towards Fawley power station and Southampton.

    Torchlight illuminates the buildings bellow. Seca. We are unsure if this is a routine patrol or if the cawing birds have alerted him to our assent, i quietly make my way back to the cover of the cranes shed as the torch begins to scan the crane. I'm sure we've been rumbled.

    Nervously waiting I take pictures and as the last exposure finishes the torchlight turns and heads back toward the other side of the site. We were safe! I'd only shot enough for one panorama but not wanting to push our luck we headed down the ladders and back out to those quiet streets, grinning like madmen. We'll be back for more.

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    And back the next morning to see her in daylight.

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 b3n, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
    the126, Speed and WildBoyz like this.

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  2. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
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    Good write up of a very historic machine. Needs more pics. Good that it's being restored too. You sure it's 50m though?
     
  3. b3n

    b3n onehundredandthirtythree
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    Cheers, it does! Hopefully be back with more after a second visit, Rokinon 8mm arrived today so good reason to get back up there ;)

    The only reference to the height i can find is a BBC news article which states 50m
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-33912048

    I've updated the op with a few extra shots, hopefully not too repetitive.
     
    #3 b3n, Apr 19, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  4. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
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    Fair enough. The history in the first link says 70ft to the turntable. I think the BBC were being a bit ambitious (and lazy: 50m = 165ft not 150ft)

    I look forward to seeing some more photos. Don't go mad with the fisheye though :thumb
     
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  5. b3n

    b3n onehundredandthirtythree
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    Teach me not to read my own links ;)

    Guarantee i'll go mad with the fisheye for a month and then get over it! think that's what everyone does init?
     
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  6. Yorrick

    Yorrick 28DL Regular User
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    Haha! Too true! They're good for high stuff I think. The only shots I've actually used from mine were a couple from Clipston Headstock. It rarely makes it out of the car now.
     
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  7. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    That's rather a nice crane, not what I was expecting.
     
  8. Alley

    Alley Conspicuous Loiterer
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    Great write up. Enjoyed reading that :thumb
     
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  9. Dave W

    Dave W Industrial Pornographer
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    The views better in daylight ;)
    Is the cab unlocked these days?
    The power was still on last time I was up there but the door was locked. Years ago now, glad they're finally sorting the maintenance.

    Dave
     
  10. b3n

    b3n onehundredandthirtythree
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    Yep wide open. I'll try and catch sunrise sometime that'll be the one ;)

    It's really good they have finally started the work. The units next to the crane recently had a massive fire and are now gone, leaving the area free for the developers multi million pound residential site. Lucky that. At least the crane will be saved.
     
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