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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 06:37 GMT
Clyde's 'Angel of the North' plan
By Graeme Esson
BBC Scotland

The partnership behind moves to restore one of the icons from the Clyde's shipbuilding past hope it will create the area's own Angel of the North.

An artist's impression of the illuminated crane
Architects have produced plans to illuminate the crane
Work is due to start next month on a 1.6m project to refurbish and light up Clydebank's A-listed Titan crane.

Clydebank Re-built, the organisation set up to develop the area, said the final result would be "fantastic".

Now it is seeking support for a further 1.5m project to turn the crane into a visitor attraction.

The structure, which was used at the John Brown shipyard, is one of five Titan cranes designed by William Arrol for Clyde yards.

It helped with the building of numerous warships, as well as vessels like the Lusitania, Queen Mary, Britannia and the QE2.

Its importance made it a key target for the Germans during the blitz, but the crane survived intact.

People have a nostalgia for the yards and they want their past respected, but they also want to move forward
Eleanor McAllister
Clydebank Re-built
Eleanor McAllister, managing director of Clydebank Re-built, said it had not been used for almost a decade - but was still structurally sound.

The former John Brown finally closed its doors in December 2000 when its then owners Kvaerner decided to pull out of shipbuilding.

The land was subsequently sold to the private sector, which is looking to develop the 78-acre riverside site with a mixture of housing, retail and leisure uses.

Clydebank Re-built is a regeneration company which was created by a partnership between West Dunbartonshire Council and Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire.

It has acquired 16 acres of the site, including the Titan Crane.

Lighting scheme

Glasgow-based Chris Stewart Architects have produced plans to light the structure, which has special considerations due to its location near a flight path.

"We have got to be careful that we don't blind the pilots," said Ms McAllister.

"It is all LED in the computer-driven lighting scheme. It is going to be fantastic.

"We are calling it our Angel of the North."

An artist's impression of the crane with a new lift
There are proposals to install a new lift to the top
Work is due to start on site in February and is estimated to take between six and eight months.

The architects then went on to develop proposals to create a lift to the top of the crane, which would house a visitor centre on the area's shipbuilding history.

Efforts are currently under way to raise the 1.5m which would be needed to turn that idea into a reality.

"But even if we don't get to that stage, if we can get to restore and light the crane it would be fantastic," Ms McAllister said.

The crane's importance to the local community shone through when Clydebank Re-built carried out a public consultation on all its regeneration projects.

A groundswell of opinion came through at every workshop held by the organisation, even those on other subjects.

Historical significance

"People have a nostalgia for the yards and they want their past respected, but they also want to move forward," said Ms McAllister.

It is also hoped to remember the historical significance of the slipways where the famous ships were launched.

"They are concrete and they are under water, but we are going to do some kind of art works to mark where the Queens entered the river for the first time," she said.

One of the hopes for the regeneration project is that the use of creative design will begin to change people's preconceptions of Clydebank as a deprived area.


SEE ALSO:
The rise and fall of the Clyde
25 Nov 04 |  Scotland
New life for historic Clyde name
24 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Kvaerner closure hits 200 jobs
22 Dec 00 |  Scotland


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