Wednesday, 07 October 2015

Last memory of a Barrow icon

IT was synonymous with the Barrow skyline; a towering tribute to the town’s shipbuilding heritage which stood for decades.

Last year, however, the iconic hammerhead crane – originally built in 1942 – was taken apart piece by piece.

Now images which chart the painstaking process have been released by BAE Systems – as a miniature replica of the crane takes pride of place in the Dock Museum’s ‘Shipbuilders of the World’ exhibition.

The 1:150 scale model was built by BAE Systems employee Stephen Yates for the North West Apprentice of the Year competition.

With the model now encased in glass, he is looking forward to showing it off to his family and friends.

Mr Yates said: “I’m very proud of it; I’ll definitely be bringing them all down.”

The original hammerhead was taken down last year because it had been out of use for several years and its condition was deteriorating.

Many townspeople including Barrow-born artist John Duffin, who painted it in several of his pictures, lamented the decision to take it down.

The towering 165ft structure was used to fit out surface ships.

A section has been retained as a permanent memorial to two Barrow shipyard fire watchers who lost their lives in 1941, when the previous hammerhead crane on the site was hit by bombs from a German plane in an air raid on the shipyard during the Second World War.

Christopher Fieldhouse, a 19-year-old apprentice fitter, and Thomas Martin Cooke, a crane driver, were on fire watch duty on the original Buccleuch Dock crane when it was hit.

A plaque in their memory was fixed to the 165ft hammerhead crane, built to replace the original structure and although that has been demolished a six-foot section has been left in place with the plaque attached.

A new plaque marking the re-dedication of the site in a special service has been fixed beneath the original.

BAE photographer Mike Vallance took regular pictures of the crane as it was dismantled and created a historical time lapse sequence of its passing.

Have your say

It is sad to see iconic images removed from the skyline. Yes this was a remarkable crane, famous really for being erected on the site where the firewatchers lost their lives. The true king of the cranes was situated by the old coppershop on the other side of the bridge, which was taken down a good few years ago, my abiding memory of this brute was it lifting the flying scotsman when it came into the yard for refurbishment,,,,Ah, the good old days!!!

Posted by HarryH on 3 February 2011 at 23:29

The Barrow crane, a Giant Cantilever crane was one of only 42 of this pattern crane built in the world.

Of the original 42 only 9 remain surviving, 4 in Scotland on the Clyde, one on the Tyne, one at Cowes, two in Japan, one of which at Nagasaki Shipyard the other at Sasebo shipyard and the other at Garden Island naval base Sydney.

Of the 9 survivors only 3 are operational. The Scottish cranes have been given protection as items of national heritage.

Sad to see the loss of this one through neglect.

Posted by D Foster on 1 February 2011 at 13:26

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