THE Barclay Curle Complex in Whiteinch may host our wonderful GWR workshop, but it is perhaps better known for its historical significance as a symbol of the bygone era of industrialisation.
Perched on the North bank of the River Clyde and towering above the business units which now occupy the surrounding area, the Barclay Curle crane represents one of the few remnants of the Clyde’s shipbuilding past at its peak.
The yard was initially founded by Robert Barclay in 1818 in Stobcross before moving down the river to Whiteinch in 1876 to incorporate larger engineering works.
Not long after the turn of the century, the yard was acquired by Swan Hunter and built several Insect-class gunboats for the Royal Navy during the First World War.
It was in 1920 that the large cantilever, or Titan, crane was erected. Designed by Sir William Arrol & Co. – also responsible for the iconic Forth and Tay bridges – the Barclay Curle crane was one of 42 Titan’s originally built around the world, seven of which were in Scotland and five located on the Clyde.
Nowadays, just four Titan’s remain: at Finnieston, Clydebank, Greenock and of course Whiteinch. Finnieston is the largest of the four and was, in fact, the biggest crane in Europe when it was constructed in 1931. It still stands today as an important representation of Glasgow’s industrial past and one of the most instantly recognisable features of the city’s skyline.
Since ceasing shipbuilding in 1968, the Clydeholm shipyard became an industrial site in the mid-1980s and, along with ourselves, Clydeforth Engineering and Contractors Ltd., Scottish Opera, Glasgow City Bus and Amerex Steel now trade out of the complex.
At 150ft-high, the Barclay Curle crane is an imposing yet magnificent structure often overlooked because of its decaying facade, but it acts as a reminder of what can be achieved through great feats of design, engineering and construction.
As a monument to the skilled labour of our predecessors, the crane is as fine an inspiration as any for our woodworkers and those carrying on handcrafted work.