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Report - Swan Hunter Shipbuilding, Wallsend

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by snappel, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. snappel

    snappel BMW 4 LIFE
    28DL Full Member

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    Sitting in the car at a bus stop, waiting for dweeb, I knew it was going to be tough. Rubbish and crap was being blown past me, the car was rocking heavily in the wind, the bus stop itself was shaking... and it was starting to rain. Never mind - we'd decided this would be our last opportunity to do this. The remaining big red Swan Hunter crane, to the top. We'd visited once before, and wimped out of doing the jib. Now it was as if the weather was punishing us for it. We were going to have to work for this one...

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    Less than an hour later we're climbing like stink up the exposed ladders to the base of the crane. In full view of a mast-mounted camera, we had to just hope for the best. Next we were inside the 'post' of the crane, up a series of ladders. It was dark, loud and clangy - like the silos at British Sugar, I remarked to dweeb.

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    At the top the motor room was lit up and the control room unlocked. A small workshop, winding drums and a comfy chair - this beast had it all! Note the cheapy foreign adjustable spanner - that's all this crane has to look forward to from now on...

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    The real goal was high above our heads, now supported by two temporary steel cables. The first ladder wouldn't be too hard - mounted on the jib it was shielded from the brutal south-westerley that was now rocking this mammoth crane around like it had done my car earlier. At the top of this ladder, the real fun started. The next ladder was the longest, going almost to the top, with nothing shielding it. It just hung over nothing.

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    Blocking out the warnings in my head that this was a silly idea, I pushed on up the ladder to the last platform before the final ladder. Just as dweeb was hauling himself onto the platform, the wind picked up and he had to cling on for dear life! But he made it, and we held on as the massive jib bobbed about in the wind on it's steel cables.

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    Stopping here for a few photos, we knew we were a long way up. Everything looked tiny! But there was more fun to be had yet...

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    As I neared the top, the wind was really pushing hard. Before looking over the summit, I had to do the sensible thing and use the rope and clip I'd brought with me to attach myself to the last rung. This was insane! Looking over the top, it was as if the wind wanted to rip my head off. Just behind me dweeb was on the ladder, grinning! We'd done it! This photo was from the very top - notice the way the handrails just stop!!

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    Spotting a torchlight on the ground, it was clear that security were patrolling - or worse, onto us. Still, we made it back down to the ground and hid for a while before taking a few shots of the cranes from below.

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    Two hours sleep in the car and a breakfast from a Shell garage (yes, it was that bad...) and it was onto more ship yards, including A&P Tyne, Hawthorn Leslie and Tyne Engineering, each a story in itself.

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