Wednesday, 24 February 2010

A date with the Cranes, Samson & Goliath

I've been planning to spend the day around the dockside taking photo's for quite a bit and finally got round to it on Friday. I say I spent time around the docks but in truth it was spent photographing the cranes of Harland and Wolff.

If you've spent any time in Belfast you can't help but notice the two yellow cranes that dominate the skyline, both belong to the Harland and Wolff shipyard and give an indication to Belfast's previous position as a major ship builder. Individually named after Biblical figures, Samson and Goliath, both cranes have a span of 140 metres and can each lift loads of up to 840 tonnes. Goliath is the older of the two (completed in 1969), stands closer to Belfast and rises to a height of 96 metres, Samson was finished in 1974 has an extra 10 metres in height and is situated on the Belfast Lough side of the ship yard.

The cranes sit on tracks, similar to those used by trains, and can be moved closer or further apart depending on what they are working on, although these days Goliath is pretty much decomissioned and Samson is rarely used. In heavy winds, the cranes were known to be pushed down the rails, even with the brakes on, which must have made life at the top a bit more interesting. The dry dock at the base of the cranes goes hand in hand with their lifting capacity as it is the largest in the world measuring 556m x 93m.

Getting in around the cranes was actually fairly easy, and no climbing of fences was needed to get pretty close to them. A walk down Queen's street, through an abandoned car park and up a fairly unused piece of road (Hamilton Road) past an apparently abandoned warehouse on the left and you are on what Google tells me is Musgrave Channel Road. From here you can get pretty good views of the cranes and at one end only a couple metres from the base of Goliath.

I don't think you are really allowed to be where I was but a good few luminescent jacket wearing people saw me and did nothing but give me a wave. Maybe I looked like I should be there with my tripod and the discarded hard hat I had picked up?

Although they are clearly massive structures, you don't really have a hold of their scale until you are right beside them, they truly are pretty awesome.

As a boy I think everyone wanted to climb them or sit in their cab, something I still hope to achieve. As Goliath gets repainted I can't think of a better job than sitting in a harness hanging off the side of one of the cranes with a bucket of paint.

I didn't have to climb anything to get to where I was taking photos, but had a bit of a clamber to get out. This huge rollered fence wasn't there when I arrived!

With all the development that's taking place in the "Titanic Quarter" its nice to know that the cranes have a preservation order and will always be looking over Belfast.

Hopefully nothing too tall is allowed to go up beside them.

7 comment(s) so far, add your thoughts -->>here<<--:

Mac E said...

Great shots although it's pretty depressing seeing it now. I feel exactly the same driving through Port Glasgow, always reminds me of the Jimmy Nail/Mark Knopfler song 'The River'

Mac E said...

Sorry, I mean 'Big River' :-)

Niall Quinn said...

Cool pics
actually thanks to that moving in the wind thing one of those cranes is slightly bent! cant remember which one it was but it got pushed to the end of the tracks and the whole structure bent slightly

Simon Gallagher said...

Brilliant photos Bizzle, would not look out of place in some glossy spread. I really wish I had an DSLR and some skill son it when I went travelling...

Anonymous said...

Excellent pics.

Trevor Mitchell

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