Bristol's four dockside cranes are to be restored as part of the ongoing work to create a new museum in the city.
The last time they were operational was 1974 but the machines date back to the 1950s when they were used to service cargo ships.
Work will involve getting the electrically powered cranes running along tracks in front of the museum.
The cranes are expected to be back in action by the time the new Museum of Bristol opens in 2011.
Former docker and museum curator Andy King said: "We want to bring them back to life again.
"They give you a picture of what it might have been like to work down on the docks during Bristol's heyday.
"They're so much part of the building so designed to lift the massive varied cargos that came to this wharf."
Crane driver Dave Cole said: "It's one of the great features that when I'm up in the driving cab people just stop and stare to see this great monster moving slowly up and down the track and that is one of my main responsibilities."