Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,170 pages of information and 233,417 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Fairbairn Crane

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Crane built in 1862 by Fairbairn, at Helsingør (Denmark)
Helsingør. The long lever is for the all-important brake. Hand-powered cranes were potentially dangerous for those winding the hand cranks, as well as anyone beneath the load
Helsingør. The worm and wheel arrangement was used to rotate (slew) the crane. Note the dog clutch allowing this gearing to be disengaged, and the small latch to hold the clutch lever down
Seville, 2018
Seville, 2018
Seville, 2018
Seville, 2018
Seville, 2018
Seville, 2018. Neat repair on cast iron gear wheel
Fairbairn-type crane at the former Trinity House Buoy Shed on the Old Harbour in Hull
Venice Arsenale
Venice Arsenale
Venice Arsenale
Venice Arsenale

This entry refers to the type of crane patented in 1850 by William Fairbairn. The patent expired in 1875.

The crane's distinctive feature was a curved wrought iron box girder jib.

They were made by a number of firms in the UK and abroad.

The Wikipedia entry provides good information on these cranes.

Richard Byrom identifies 80 known examples of Fairbairn-type cranes from vatious manufacturers[1]. Surviving examples are referred to below.

Surviving Examples

Survivors are found at the following locations:-

Bristol Harbour (steam-powered, made by Stothert and Pitt).

Canal de Castilla, Darsena Valladolid, Spain. Photo here.

Dover (Wellington Dock). Made by the Fairbairn Engineering Co in 1868. Recent bizarre addition of a prop. Photos here.

Frankfurt (Oder). Made by H. Gruson - "Maschinen-Fabrik und Schiffsbauwerkstatt H.Gruson Buckau-Magdeburg". Photo here.

Helsingor (Denmark). Made by William Fairbairn in 1862 (original maker's plate intact).

Koog aan de Zaan (NL)

Langenargen, Baden-Württemberg, at the Bodensee (Lake Constance), Germany. Photo here.

Middelburg (Province of Zeeland, NL). Made in Holland in 1861. Photo here.

Rorschach, at the Bodensee (Lake Constance), Switzerland. Photo here.

Seville (Spain). Originally located on the Muelle de Nueva York along the Canal de Alfonso XIII. Moved 500 metres in 2005 to a plaza at the Puente Alfonso XIII. See photos. Almost certainly made by Fairbairn.

Venice, in the Arsenale. Maker not identified. Converted to electric power at some point.

Vienna, at the Anlegestelle 8 on the Handelskai along the Donau.

Visby, on the isle of Gotland, Sweden. Electric powered. Photo here.

More photos of Fairbairn-type cranes in Flickr Fairbairn Cranes Group here.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'William Fairbairn: the experimental engineer' by Richard Byrom, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2017