The Story of the Giant Cranes

Prior warning. This is not one of my ‘meaning of life’ posts and there will be no tortuous analogy at the end. It’s about cranes.

Giant Cranes01Liverpool loves a good Giant. Two or more even better. And I was impressed when I first went into town to see them a few years ago. Second time round though, I didn’t bother. No particular reason, I just couldn’t work up the interest in their made up story second time around.

Today was a different matter though.

For the last few months we've had a giant guest in the city.
For the last few months we’ve had a giant guest in the city.
Looming over Hope street and Myrtle Street and Canning.
Looming over Hope Street and Myrtle Street and Canning.

86-bus24

Building the new, oh well, student accommodation on the corner up there. And did I but know it, this 40 metres tall monster is the second biggest of its kind in Europe and weighs 750 tonnes.

So as the new building started wrapping itself around it I'd begun to wonder...
So as the new building started wrapping itself around it I’d begun to wonder…

Well, how are they going to get it out of there?

In fact Sarah and I had been discussing just that the other day as we passed by. (See we’re not always on the higher plains of radical politics and monkey puzzle trees.) And our conclusion? If they don’t want to smash their new building to bits they’re going to have to lift it out of there with an even bigger crane.

And it turned out we were right.
And it turned out we were right.

So today I’ve come to have a look at this being done.

In passing can I just say how much I like that Philharmonic poster. Looks like that was some gig.
In passing can I just say how much I like that Philharmonic poster. Looks like that was some gig.
Here we are then. Myrtle Street and part of Hope Street are closed.
Here we are then. Myrtle Street and part of Hope Street are closed.

Been closed in fact since 7pm last night, Friday. And staying closed ’til 6am Monday. That’s how long they’ve got to put one giant crane up, lift the other one out of there, and get them both out of the way for the Monday morning traffic. Now that’s a story that gets my interest.

So here we are.
So here we are.
The new visitor.
The new visitor.
Stretching all the way up there.
Stretching all the way up there.
Yes that high.
Yes that high.
To reach over and get the red crane...
To reach over and get the red crane…
Out of here in the middle of the new building.
Out of here in the middle of the new building.
They've already started.
They’ve already started.

Yes the top bit of Reddy (let’s give them names) has already gone. And no, drama fans it’s not all getting lifted out at once, that would be crazy. Bluey, the new visitor, is lifting Reddy out in twelve sections.

And here is Bluey.
And here is Bluey.
The mighty giant they built last night, wheels up, feet down.
The mighty giant they built last night, wheels up, feet down.
Weighed well down.
Weighed well down.
Simply not allowed to fall over.
Simply not allowed to fall over.
On the new building or the sacred Philharmonic pub.
On the new building or the sacred Philharmonic pub.

Oh and look here, there’s a third crane (Playing the part of Little Girl’s Dog?)

Welcome to Yellowy!
Welcome to Yellowy!

Yellowy’s job is the delicate manoeuvre of placing each of the twelve section of Reddy on separate trucks to be driven away on, once Bluey has placed them on the ground. ‘Oh’ I can hear pedants saying ‘Why doesn’t Bluey just drop them on the trucks?’ Well, because then Yellowy wouldn’t have a job, as anyone can see!

Well true, but the real reason is the twelve big sections of Reddy that Bluey lifts are then taken apart into even shorter sections to fit onto the nevertheless humoungously big trucks by Yellowy, as we are about to see.

So here's Yellowy, about to do a Very Good Job indeed.
So here’s Yellowy, about to do a Very Good Job indeed.
All tensed, all ready?
All tensed, all ready?
Not quite, not yet.
Not quite, not yet.
Nearly though.
Nearly though.
Using large steel hammers to knock out bolts that look very like big versions of the bits you whack into self assembly Ikea furniture.
Using large steel hammers to knock out bolts that look very like big versions of the bits you whack into self assembly Ikea furniture.

Yes, don’t worry, I’ve done my time in the construction industry too.

All separated now and ready to go.
All separated now and ready to go.
The crucial moment seen here in arty reflection.
The crucial moment seen here in arty reflection.
Yellowy begins to lift Reddy's front bit up.
Yellowy begins to lift Reddy’s front bit up.
I think it's called the jib.
I think it’s called the jib.
It was when I had a Dinky toy crane when I was little.
It was when I had a Dinky toy crane when I was little.
Carefully guided by human helpers.
Carefully guided by human helpers.

Up into the air and swinging round towards the waiting truck.Giant Cranes34 Giant Cranes35Giant Cranes36 Giant Cranes37Giant Cranes38Giant Cranes39

Nearly there.
Nearly there.

Giant Cranes41

Job almost done.
Job almost done.
Giant Cranes43
But now to be guided to rest by hand.

Giant Cranes44

As this happens I'm astonished that most people aren't astonished.
As this happens I’m astonished that most people aren’t astonished.

Passing by like this happens every day. In fact the only constant spectators are me and the guy on the right there, who it turns out knew Yellowy’s owner ‘when he had nothing.’ Of course, and perfectly in line with a well known all knowing Liverpool tradition!

Looking very cool there.
Looking very cool there.
But that's still being held far above him by a crane.
But that’s still being held far above him by a crane.
Being equally cooly operated by someone with his feet on the dashboard?
Being equally cooly operated by someone with his feet on the dashboard?

Well I’m sure they know what they’re doing. (All of this is being accomplished with a mixture of Dutch and English being spoken, by the way.)Giant Cranes49Giant Cranes50Giant Cranes51

Now the final and very precise movements are accomplished with hand movements like engineering ballet. Breathtaking, watch this.Giant Cranes52Giant Cranes53Giant Cranes54Giant Cranes55

Done. The first of the twelve sections.
Done. The first part of the twelve big sections.
To the joy of Joe Pritz here.
To the joy of Joe Pritz here.

Joe is the Site Manager. Responsible for the new building, the safe removal of Reddy and getting it all done while he still has permission to keep the roads closed. No pressure there then!

I congratulate Joe on a job going well and as you can see he’s delighted to have had an audience. Even if it was only two of us. I enjoyed it immensely Joe, and may well be back tomorrow to see it completed!

Walking away, the work of Orangey here, round the corner, looked a bit mundane.
Walking away, the work of Orangey here, round the corner, looks a bit mundane.
Compared to the Giant Cranes.
Compared to the Giant Cranes.
Who entertained us so well.
Who entertained us so well.
Today in Liverpool.
Today in Liverpool.

Well done, Reddy, Bluey and Yellowy. Good to have had you here. (See, I told you there’d be no tortuous life-affirming analogy at the end.)

And you can see how they all got on the next day in Episode 2, here.



5 Replies to “The Story of the Giant Cranes”

  1. I had a similar encounter a few years back, when our office had to have new air conditioning plant installed on the roof, twenty-five floors up – except this was done at night, so it was all the more interesting and had a certain air of a secret world about it, as the commercial areas of most big cities that get depopulated after dark do. Good to see you giving rein to your inner anorak! (Mine is self-confessedly, proudly and openly worn.)

    1. Thanks Robert, engineering is a bit of a secret world isn’t it? But I adore great engineering skills and think they’re far too often belittled as somehow less than the thinking skills of great philosophers. Great lighthouses, the Overhead, the Mersey Tunnels and today on that street – deeply thought out genius.

  2. A pity you weren’t on hand in my student days when a friend built himself a boat in his father’s garage and had to take the roof off to get it out….’borrowing’ a crane about the size of orangey and its operator on the promise of the folding stuff to do the job over a weekend.
    Removal of roof after lunch on the Saturday when father was out watching his team….the fond hope being that said father would not notice lack of roof after pausing for post match pub visit.
    Needless to say fond hope was not realised….but orangey and operator turned up as promised and managed to get the thing out, bound up as it was in a cat’s cradle of scaffolding poles and ropes and placed it on a low loader for transport out of range of father….

    Friend and assorted helpers put a new roof on…..bang went the grant in paying for it all and standing his round became a thing of the past until the new academic year and the cheque arrived.

    But those were the days when you were paid to study……

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