Plaque placed for crane

A HISTORIC Grade II listed iron crane dating back to the the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign has been restored to its former glory on the bank of the Kennet and Avon canal.

Volunteers from the Canal and River Trust have spent the past 10 years preserving the crane, and the completion of the project was marked with the unveiling on a commemorative plaque at Dundas Wharf.

Restoration team members Mike Rogers, Rosemary Ainsworth and John Webb were joined by the Trust’s heritage advisors David Viner and Birgit Schaffarra.

Mr Viner said: “This has been a truly collaborative effort, we provided the scaffolding and support, the paint was supplied by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust with a funding contribution from the Inland Waterway Association, but all the work was undertaken by volunteers.

“Although the brass fittings were stolen long ago and some elements are rusted solid, meaning it cannot work, it is still an important piece of canal history.

“The hard work and commitment of the volunteer team means the crane is ensured the secure future it deserves.”

The Acramans crane was erected at Dundas Wharf in the 1840s and is the last surviving example of the cranes built by Acramans of Bristol.

It replaced an earlier wooden crane and would have been used by workers on the Kennet and Avon Canal to lift cargo and stone weights on and off boats.

The stones were used to calculate how much toll each boat should pay.

Since most cranes of this period were made of wood, the Acramans crane could be one of the earliest cast and wrought iron cranes left on the waterways. Many examples have been lost through the decades.

Some were taken for scrap metal during World War II.

The preservation work has been described as a labour of love by the dedicated volunteers.

The crane had been covered in a thick tar-based black paint and some parts were severely corroded. The team stripped it back to the bare metal and repainted it with a high-performance paint.

The Dundas Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon from Bath to Westbury. There is a car park for visitors near Brassknocker Basin.

This is Wiltshire

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