Four rare electric cranes on Bristol docks listed Grade II

The cranes, which form part of Bristol Museums’ collection, have been listed on advice from Historic England.

A set of four rare electric cranes at Prince’s Wharf on Bristol’s Floating Harbour have been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

The cranes, which have been listed alongside the rails they are mounted on, are the second largest group of historic cranes in the country made by Stothert and Pitt of Bath, and the only cranes of their kind known to be in working order.

Following bomb damage to Prince’s Wharf in the Second World War, it was renovated to become a modern general cargo wharf. These cranes enabled the loading and unloading of cargo ships onto wagons and into what is now the M Shed Museum.

The four cranes are now in the ownership of Bristol City Council and form part of Bristol Museums’ collection.

When the docks closed in 1975, the redundant eight cranes were sold for scrap. City Docks Ventures helped to raise funds to save two of the cranes from the scrapyard and Bristol City Council decided to purchase two others.

Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director for Historic England in the South West, said the cranes are “an important link to Bristol’s maritime and industrial history”.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol with responsibility for culture, added: “The four cranes have become unique and fascinating exhibits in M Shed Museum’s collection, attracting visitors from all over the world. The protection of the cranes as structures of special interest means that Bristol’s industrial past can continue to be retold for generations to come.”

Councillor Nicola Beech, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Resilience and Floods, said: “The four metal giants are the largest objects in M Shed’s collection and could perhaps rival the Clifton Suspension Bridge for the most photographed sight in the city!”

“I would like to express my thanks to the dedicated staff and volunteers at the museum who expertly care for the cranes, steam railway and historic boats, and preserve the memory of the city docks for future generations.”