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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List entry Number: 1390949



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Isle of Wight

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Cowes

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II*

Date first listed: 02-Aug-2004

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 491566

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.



947/0/10025 THETIS ROAD 02-AUG-04 Hammerhead Crane at J S White Shipyard


Giant Cantilever Crane, also called 'hammerhead' crane, built 1911.

MATERIALS: Cast iron, corrugated iron, embedded in concrete.

DESCRIPTION: An 80 ton giant cantilever crane built of cast iron with a square tower of three stages with its base embedded in concrete. It has a circular mechanism for manoeuvring the crane with a balanced horizontal jib above with a tapering front. There are two gabled structures of corrugated iron at the atop the jib. The machinery is in situ, but was not in full working order at the time of this amended description. There is also switch gear and power housing in another building nearby.

HISTORY: The first giant cantilever crane was designed for Wreath Quay in Sunderland in 1905. Requests for this type of crane were subsequently made by all the leading shipbuilders, port authorities and naval dockyards, and the first example was built on the Clyde by Sir William Arrol in 1907. This crane still survives and has been given the highest grade of protection by Historic Scotland. The first giant cantilever crane in England was constructed on the Tyne in 1909, and was listed at Grade II* in 1989, but was demolished in the 1990s. This type of crane was used up until the 1970's. In total about 26 were built in Britain, and about 42 were built world wide. The maker of the Cowes crane, Babcock and Wilcox, were one of only four British firms involved in their construction.

The 80-ton giant cantilever crane at Cowes was ordered by the local shipbuilder J S White in 1911, and came into service in 1912. It was the only giant cantilever crane that Babcock and Wilcox ever built and was part of the newly fitted out quay which White's needed under its expansion plans for the production of naval warships. During the period from 1912 to the end of World War I the Cowes shipyard produced 2 gunboats, 3 submarines and more than 20 destroyers and escort ships.Although Cowes was not comparable with the shipbuilding industry of the North-East because this was on such a major scale, White's shipyard continued a tradition of ship building in the Cowes area since 1623; Whit's had relocated from Broadstairs to Cowes in the early-C19 and had therefore been building ships here for nearly a century. At the time that the crane was delivered, the shipyard numbered about 2,000 workers, and it has been estimated that in 1914 over 75% of the commerce and trade of Cowes depended on the shipyard. The crane continued in operation in the years prior to and during World War II when the shipyard appears to have specialised in producing destroyers. At least 25 were constructed, amongst which were HMS Impulsive which was involved in the action against the German ship Scharnhorst, and together with other Cowes ships was involved in the evacuations from Dunkirk in may-June 1940. Amongst other destroyers built at White's was HMS Cavalier, the last operational Royal Navy destroyer from WWII, currently on display at Chatham Historic Dockyard, and the propeller of which was erected on the Esplanade at East Cowes as a war memorial.

SOURCES: British Cranes, Association of Crane Makers - date unknown. Hinton J Sheryn, An Illustrated History of Cranes 1997.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION The giant cantilever crane at Cowes is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * The giant cantilever crane at Cowes is now the only surviving example in England; * It is an early example of this type of crane and is intact; * It testifies to the importance of shipbuilding on the Isle of Wight, and the part played by the island in both World Wars.

Listing NGR: SZ4997895469

Selected Sources

Books and journals
British Cranes
Sheryn, H, An Illustrated History of Cranes, (1997)

National Grid Reference: SZ 49978 95469


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End of official listing