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Hopeman crane receives Sparrows makeover


A team of Sparrows engineers have put their skills to good use refurbishing a little piece of Scottish history.

Staff from the company, which is a world leader in offshore lifting and mechanical handling services, have just completed an overhaul of a crane originally built for the marine industry in 1859.

The wrought and cast-iron machine has sat at the harbour in the village of Hopeman, Moray, after it stopped being used during the late 1970s. In recent years it began to deteriorate due to its age and prolonged exposure to the elements.

During the village’s 200th anniversary in 2005, the idea of refurbishing the historic contraption began to gather momentum.

Hopeman Community Association had been looking into ways to preserve an element of their local heritage and Bill Angus a member of staff from Sparrows living in the village decided to ask his employers, who are specialists in crane refurbishment, if they could help.

The suggestion was met with enthusiasm from staff at Sparrows Tern workshop in Bridge of Don who took on the task during breaks and in their spare time.

Workshop engineer Simon Scouller said: “Everyone was intrigued by the project. Overall, between the receipt, movement, strip down and refurbishment, most of the workshop personnel had some sort of input.

“Whether undertaking manual work or providing suggestions as to how best to carry out the refurbishment, looking into the history of the crane or the manufacturer it certainly sparked the team’s interest.”

The hand cranked crane was originally manufactured for the Clyde Navigation Trust by Bowser & Cameron of Glasgow. It was probably initially used to prepare cargo for shipment from ports on the Clyde to the Western Isles or further afield. Wick Harbour Trust purchased it around 1880 for the seasonal herring fishing before the crane was taken by train to Hopeman in 1925. It remained operational for around 50 years following the move.

From September 2011 through to August this year the work in bringing the Victorian construction up to date took place. Repair work involved manufacturing a new chassis to replace the extremely corroded original, while rivets were also fitted into the platework to reproduce the original look. An internal frame was also constructed to hold the bodywork of the crane’s counterbalance together.

The rotten wooden running boards were replaced as part of the renovation work before the crane was repainted bright red and its features, including the maker’s badge, picked out in gold. As a final touch of authenticity, a wire rope was run across the boom and shackled to the chassis.

John McPherson (pictured above), a member of the community association, said: “We wanted to restore the crane so a part of the village’s history would be preserved and protected for future generations.

“The staff at Sparrows have done a terrific job in restoring the crane to its former glory and it looks fantastic now that it is sitting back in its traditional spot on the harbour.”

Ewen Kerr, Sparrows Global Engineering Director, said: “Our engineers are more used to dealing with the latest in lifting and engineering technology, so it was a slightly more unusual workscope to take on but one they tackled with great enthusiasm.

“Hopefully the repair work will ensure the crane continues to act as a reminder of Hopeman’s history and a point of interest in the village for another 150 years.”


Hopeman crane receives Sparrows makeover