What’s missing from this picture?June 13, 2011 at 20:36 | Posted in Barrow, Barrow Island, Docks | 4 Comments
Can you guess what it is yet?
After a year and a half we have a bit of catching up to do. Last year the big crane beside the Buccleuch Dock, the last of the big hammerhead cranes that once graced the Barrow skyline, was dismantled. This was very much to the dismay of many Barrovians including myself, who felt that it was the last remaining monument to the great days of Barrow shipbuilding even if this dockside crane was separate from the mighty beasts that dominated the Walney Channel side of Barrow Island. But it had been neglected for many years, and apparently had become unsafe according to BAE Systems whose bottom line would be affected by repairs, and “an eyesore” according to the then leader of Barrow Borough Council Jack Richardson, Conservative member for the Hawcoat ward. The posh people of Hawcoat, apparently, couldn’t bear to wake up in the morning and be reminded that down below their leafy hill the lower orders were doing heavy work.
Old followers of this blog will know that I was very fond of that crane. It reminded me of my granddad, Joe Storey, who was a crane driver. That particular crane was also built, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, to replace one destroyed in the Barrow Blitz of 1941. Barrow Docks played a key role in maintaining supplies during the war as well as building ships, so the fast replacement of the crane was critical to the war effort.
The marketing people promoting Barrow stress the Town Hall and Furness Abbey, but pay no attention to the town’s industrial heritage. This is a mistake in my view. Without iron and steel, and later shipbuilding, Barrow would be a tiny fishing village remote from most of the country. The town that Barrovians are rightly proud of launched legendary ships and had the biggest steelworks in the world once, and it shouldn’t be ashamed of that now.
Here’s a wee reminder of what it looked like: