Riverside crane tells a new story.

It’s a shame maybe that the most impressive reminder of Bath’s industrial past is visible on the quayside in Bristol rather than in the city where they were manufactured. I am talking about the four huge cranes outside what is now M Shed on the Floating Harbour.

The four cranes on the Bristol water-front
The four cranes on the Bristol water-front. Click on images to enlarge them.

They were made at the Stothert and Pitt Newark Works – here on the Lower Bristol Road. !t was – until its closure in 1987 – a heavy engineering company that eventually became Bath’s biggest employer.

Although S & P made a range of products it was cranes that brought it international renown. The four examples in Bristol were built back in 1951 – many others can be found on docksides around the world – but the only example still in this city is a more modest affair – built in 1904.

The 1904 Stothert and Pitt steam crane at Western Riverside
The 1904 Stothert and Pitt steam crane at Western Riverside

It’s one of the last remaining rail-mounted self-propelled steam cranes produced by the company and – after a campaign led by B&NES Heritage champion Cllr Bryan Chalker –  was saved to claim pride of place in front of the new residential development by Crest Nicholson which is leading to the regeneration of the western riverside.

Sadly the crane was subsequently attacked by vandals and a plaque explaining its provenance and the industrial history of this former industrial site badly damaged.

However Cllr Chalker tells the VMB that the developers  have come to the rescue.

The new sign on the side of the preserved crane at Western Riverside.
The new sign on the side of the preserved crane at Western Riverside.

‘Crest Nicholson has now funded a new and larger plaque,’ he says. ‘ This is now in place and attached to the steam crane’s cab. Once the weather improves, the jib will be lowered and fenced off for cleaning and repainting and the cables greased.’

The plaque says that with the Help of the Mayor of Bath – Bryan Chalker, Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust, Avon Valley Railway, The Museum of Bath at Work and Bath and North East Somerset Council this crane is being restored to its former glory as part of the Bath Riverside Art Strategy.’  It is signed ‘Crest Nicholson Regeneration.’

 

1 Comment

  1. There is quite a selection of S&P cranes at the Port of Ipswich (where they still appear to be in operation) and around Royal Victoria Dock in London where they’re purely decorative. It’s good to know that one of them remains in Bath, though.

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