The Titan Crane at Clydebank - History and Facts | History Hit

The Titan Crane at Clydebank

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Amy Irvine

04 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Titan Crane at Clydebank

The Titan is a 46 m high cantilever crane at Clydebank, in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland – one of 4 cantilever cranes which remain along the River Clyde today. It was designed to be used in the lifting of heavy equipment, such as engines and boilers, during the fitting-out of battleships and ocean liners at the John Brown & Company shipyard. It was also the world’s first electrically powered cantilever crane, and the largest crane of its type at the time of its completion.

History of The Titan, Clydebank

Commissioned at the start of the 20th century, the Titan was built in the heart of the shipbuilding hub of Clydebank and finished in 1907. It was constructed by the Scottish engineer Adam Hunter, Chief Engineer for Arrol & Co (who had served his apprenticeship on the construction of the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh). Stothert & Pitt of Bath fabricated and installed most of the machinery for the Titan, including electric motors, built by Lancashire Dynamo and Motor Co.

The lifting capacity of the Titan, and its location in John Brown’s shipyard at the confluence of the River Clyde and River Cart, contributed to the success of the shipyard as it could construct extremely large ships. Indeed the Titan was used to construct some of the largest ships of the 20th century, including the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The Clydebank Blitz in March 1941 virtually destroyed the town. Only 7 properties in Clydebank were undamaged, in one of the worst bombing raids in Britain. The raids, involving 260 Luftwaffe bombers on the first night and 200 on the second, targeted the industry of Clydeside, but the Titan escaped undamaged.

The Titan, Clydebank today

100 years after it was built, the Titan reopened in 2007 after refurbishment – restoring the crane to its former glory, and as one of Scotland’s most unique tourist attractions. The Crane is Category A Listed, the highest listing in Scotland, putting it on a par with both Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. It now features a shipbuilding museum celebrating the area’s shipbuilding heritage, and is also featured on the current Clydesdale Bank £5 note.

The Titan is only open seasonally from May to October, though it’s possible to see the crane from miles away all year round, thanks to its nightly illuminations. For those with strong stomachs, bungee jumps, abseiling or swinging from the crane’s summit are also possible.

Getting to The Titan, Clydebank

From Glasgow City Centre, the journey to the Titan in Clydebank takes approximately 15 minutes by car, along the A814. There are regular train services through both Glasgow Queen Street and Glasgow Central stations to Clydebank Station, less than a 10 minute walk. There are also regular buses (including Firstbus No.40) to the bus depot by the Clydebank shopping centre in Chalmers Street, which is a 10 minute walk away.

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