Hammerhead crane at the Isle of Wight

Country and region: 
United Kingdom: England
Town, city: 
Cowes PO31 7UL, Isle of Wight
Medina Yard, 32 Thetis Road
geographical coordinates: 
N 50.7564134 W 1.2925007
View of the hammerhead crane from Medina River
present state: 
preserved in good condition
built by: 
Babcock & Wilcox – Renfrew, Glasgow, Scotland
in use since: 
out of use: 
Lifting capacity: 
80 T
forward reach: 
22 m
Lift Height: 
23 m
Description : 

The 80 ton hammerhead crane was ordered by Cowes shipbuilder J.S. White in 1911 and came into use the following year. It was the key element of a new fitting-out quay, as part of White's increased capacity for the production of naval warships. The crane was designed by Babcock and Wilcox and engineered at their Renfrew plant, but it was the only giant cantilever crane they ever built. This type of crane would eventually dominate the skyline of shipyards throughout the world. The Cowes structure falls within the first decade of their development and the crane is probably the earliest example in existence beyond the Clyde.

The Cowes hammerhead crane is one of the earliest examples of these great steel structures and is a superb feat of grand scale engineering with powerful DC electric motors capable of lifting up to 80 tons.  The control and drive machinery itself are fine examples of British engineering design and precision.   It is hoped that the Cowes hammerhead crane will be protected as a working crane so that generations to come will grow up seeing the Island’s maritime history on the Cowes skyline, stimulated to enter the engineering fields and build the nation’s future.

The Cowes hammerhead crane has been neglected over recent years and has been decommissioned since its last operation in 2004 supporting the construction of the Tamar class of RNLI Lifeboat.   The crane is in need of restoration and maintenance to prevent deterioration.   A charitable trust ‘The Cowes hammerhead Crane Trust’ was formed on the 15th November 2006 to be the ‘voice’ of the hammerhead crane in working with various groups to ensure that is restored as a working crane and that it is preserved in perpetuity for the education of the people of the Island, and the nation. 
Recently work has begun to secure the future of a historic crane and preserve the Isle of Wight's ship building heritage. English Heritage listed the structure "at risk" and gave Isle of Wight Council a £76,000 grant to pay for repair work on "badly" corroded sections of steel and rivets is expected to be completed by the end of the year



Main 80 ton hook – Big Jon
Wide view of the hammerhead crane, Isle of Wight
Crane view over Solent
Close up of crane slew ring