Barclay Curle Titan Crane, Glasgow, Scotland – September 2014

Barclay Curle is one of the last four remaining Titan Cranes in and around Glasgow City and one of only eleven left in the world today. Built in 1920 by Sir William Arrol & Co. the crane now sits unused and rusted in place in the middle of a scrap yard. No preservation work seems to have taken places on it in recent years and it is continuing to deteriorate quickly. Unlike the other Titan Cranes which are in public view this one seems to have been forgotten and left to rust and decay where it stands.

I somehow forgot to take a single external shot of the crane so below is a photo from Wikimedia to give you an idea of what the structure looks like from the ground.


Photo by David Smith [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Stellaluna and I arrived here in the early hours of the morning. Having read up on the four Titan cranes before arriving in Glasgow we knew this was supposed to be the most challenging of them all due to being situated between two compounds which were active 24/7. We hadn’t heard wrong! We spent the next two hours carefully sneaking our way through active scrapyards, keeping to the shadows and climbing as quietly as possible over fences, stonework and all manner of debris and scrap trying not to be noticed. We finally made it through the gauntlet unnoticed and unscathed to reach the base of the Titan in front of us.

By this stage it was well into the early hours of the morning, however as luck would have it the bus depot right beside the crane operates all night. The most thorough bus cleaners I’ve ever seen were going about their business right in front of where we needed to be so we had no option but to crouch down hidden behind the bushes and wait them out. After what must have been an hour they finally cleared off which left us with a short window of opportunity to get onto the brick base of the crane itself. Despite two more close calls with unexpected activity in the depot we finally got our chance and went for it.

Once onto the brick base and across to the stairs things finally got a bit more straightforward and it was a quick dash to the top of the crane. The rustiness of the structure needs to be seen to be believed, the walk out along the jib in particular was pretty bad.

Barclay Curle (1)
The winch housing at the back of the crane

Barclay Curle (2)
The view from the driver’s cab. The stairs into the cab which were intact in photos from previous reports here have since all broken off making the climb in here slightly more awkward.

Barclay Curle (3)
The view back towards Glasgow city centre

Barclay Curle (4)

Barclay Curle (5)

Barclay Curle (6)
The view west over the huge patch of industrial land which covers quite a bit of the north riverside

Barclay Curle (7)

Barclay Curle (8)

Barclay Curle (9)
Descending the first of the three long sets of stairs which brings you back to the brick base of the crane

With the first buses of the day starting up relatively soon I ended up having to rush my photos up top and didn’t get to spend as much time up there as I would have liked. I quickly dropped back down to the base and made my way out of the compound. Somehow I had got the timing just right and as I scrambled out of view of the bus depot as activity started up again. We dashed out of sight and began the long slow journey sneaking back through the scrapyards before finally emerging back out on the road.

This was definitely one of the more enjoyable explores I’ve done. Although we missed out on two of the other locations in Glasgow due to this one taking up so much time I had no regrets, it was well worth all the effort in the end to stand atop such a historical crane.

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