Finnieston Crane to be transformed into tourist attraction with restaurant - following £7m investment

The Finnieston Crane is being transformed into a major attraction thanks to a £7m investment.
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What’s happening? The iconic Finnieston Crane is being transformed into a tourist attraction with restaurant, museum and visitor centre following a £7m investment.

Regeneration business Peel L&P and Clyde Mission, led by the Scottish Government, will provide substantial funds towards the repairs of the iconic Finnieston Crane, following the agreed sale to community interest company Big Cran Co.

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Owners, Peel L&P has gifted the structure, also known as the Stobcross Crane, to Big Cran Co to help accelerate the plans to transform one of Scotland’s best-known landmarks into a major visitor attraction.

The £7 million proposal would see a restaurant, visitor centre and museum built at the site of the Finnieston Crane on the banks of the River Clyde.

The scheme will create 50 jobs and it is hoped, will help accelerate the economic revival in the hospitality sector.

Brian Lavalette, Peel L&P’s property director for Scotland, said: “We’re proud to be supporting the Big Cran Co with their plans to transform this fantastic reminder of Glasgow’s engineering heritage into a space for the local community and beyond to enjoy in the future.

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“Our vision at Glasgow Waters is to create a sustainable environment for local people to enjoy, and we believe the Big Cran Co’s project will be a big part of bringing tourism and interest to the area.”

Why it matters: The structure, which is listed, has been the topic of debate for many years, with a decision on what to do with it ongoing until now. There was chat of a restaurant being installed at the top of the crane but now this investment will see the structure being used and celebrated. Plus it is hopefully the start of a new approach to Glasgow’s riverside culture.

Major retail, leisure and tourism destination: With the vision to become a major retail, leisure and tourism destination on the Clyde, Glasgow Waters will complement, support and revive the surrounding area. The plan involves a substantial investment in infrastructure, the creation of hundreds of waterfront homes, retail and leisure opportunities, as well as a commercial district.

The Scottish Government’s Clyde Mission initiative is providing £452,000 funding towards the project.

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Finnieston Crane history: The Finnieston Crane is a 174 ft high cantilever crane built in the 1920s, and it began operating in 1932 with the job of lifting railway carriages, engines and other heavy structures onto ships docked on the River Clyde.

As Scotland’s manufacturing sector declined in subsequent decades, so did the use of the crane. It was last operational in 1988 - the docks that housed the crane were closed much earlier, in 1969. At the time of its construction, it was the largest hammer-head crane of its type in Europe - now, it is one of only 11 cantilever cranes in existence.

Initially called the Stobcross Crane (or, to give it its much stiffer formal title, the Clyde Navigation Trustees crane #7), the structure is a permanent reminder of Glasgow’s once-mighty industrial past, but the city’s current inhabitants - especially artists - have made use of the crane’s dominance of the skyline.

A giant straw sculpture in the shape of a locomotive, designed by Scottish artist George Wyllie, was hung from the crane in 1987. As a tribute to Wyllie, who passed away in 2012, a question mark was hung from the crane in tribute. The crane has also been a temporary pub, a musical instrument, and a vertigo-inducing platform for stunt cycling.

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Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop said of the plans: “The Finnieston Crane is an iconic stalwart of the Glasgow skyline and one that reminds us of the river’s rich history. This is an exciting project, supported by the Scottish Government through our Clyde Mission, which will support the area’s post-coronavirus recovery, create jobs and attract visitors to learn about the Clyde’s heritage.”

Allan Wilson, Chairman of the Big Cran Co CIC added: “We are extremely grateful for the additional funding support being provided by Peel L&P towards essential repairs of the crane. This investment in the crane’s future sustainability will assist our efforts to convert the crane and its immediate environs into a state-of-the-art visitor attraction on the Clyde and will complement the substantial Glasgow Waters development further downstream.

“The funding support from both Clyde Mission and Peel L&P will enable us to embark on phase one of our transformational plans for the crane and help us in creating new employment and training opportunities for local people, as we focus on the crane’s role in the local economy’s post-covid recovery.”

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