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Thread: On The Shoulders Of Giants

  1. #1

    Default On The Shoulders Of Giants

    Not Liverpool, I grant you, but shipping fans may find this interesting.

    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 the historic Tyneside yard 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...

    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.

    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...

    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.

    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.

    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...

    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!!

    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.

    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.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ernie's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Norrisgreen, Liverpool.


    Snappel great pictures of a bygone time. Sad to think
    those cranes will never work again, Ernie.

  3. #3
    Re-member Ged's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Here, there & everywhere.


    Cracking stuff as ever Snappel, you're a popular lad, there was 5 of us looking at those then within 10 minutes of you posting it

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

  4. #4
    Senior Member phredd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007



    As usual mate great pics indeed. Been up around that area in my "Oh so younger days".
    Remeber the cranes well.

    I have to say that you are the Madest yet Safest bloke I have come accross on the web or any place else for that matter.

    Keep them comming.

    In the days when we had nothing we had fun.
    If tomorrow starts without me, remember I was here.

  5. #5
    Guest Cadfael's Avatar


    Snappel, you should be certified mate

    Excellent pictures!! What a job, sitting up there in the Gods watching the whole world go by!!

  6. #6
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA


    Well done, Snappel. Enjoyed these shots. But better you than me.
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

  7. #7


    Thanks for all the comments! I have to admit, I was pretty scared up there!!

    Ernie - the cranes will be working again. They're being taken to India for reassembly. They'll be building secondrate ships though.

    These photos are from the mine at Grove Rake in the Pennines that I visited on the way home. A giant in it's own right, as there are no other large structures anywhere near it.

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