Cowes Hammerhead crane named in Victorian Society’s Top Ten List of Most Endangered Buildings

Last year the iconic giant cantilever crane in Cowes – used for the production of naval warships – was named Most at Risk by English Heritage, today it has been added to the Victorian Society’s Top Ten List of Most Endangered Buildings.

Hammerhead Crane:

This in from the Victorian Society, in their own words. Ed

When you picture Victorian or Edwardian Cowes it is perhaps the regatta, rather than industry, which first springs to mind.

However, Cowes’ industrial past is epitomised by shipbuilder J.S. White’s 80 ton hammerhead crane – installed to increase capacity for the production of naval warships. One of these, HMS Cavalier, is preserved at Chatham Dockyard as a memorial to the 143 British destroyers and over 11,000 men lost at sea during WWII.

Only remaining pre-WWI hammerhead crane
The giant cantilever crane was built within the first decade of these cranes’ development and is the only remaining pre-WWI hammerhead crane in England.

Earlier this year, Isle of Wight Council issued an urgent works notice to the crane’s owner after the crane was found to be structurally unsound. The owner is now disputing the urgent works notice but we urge the Council to continue to press to secure the future of this industrial landmark.

Crane joins Frank James
The last Isle of Wight building to featured in the Victorian Society’s Top Ten was the Frank James Memorial Hospital in East Cowes, which was also nominated again this year.

The hospital was originally built as a Home for Retired Seamen, before becoming a hospital in 1903. The hospital closed in 2002 and has suffered much deterioration since then.

Pressure to serve ‘Urgent Works Notice’
In 2013 the Victorian Society wrote to the Council noting that plans for the building had not yet progressed and urging it to serve an Urgent Works Notice to the owners. This step has not as yet been taken.

There is currently a petition on the campaigning website 38 degrees asking Isle of Wight Council to take this course of action to stop any further decay.

Image: Simon Haytack under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 8th October, 2014 8:07am



Filed under: Cowes, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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3 Comments on "Cowes Hammerhead crane named in Victorian Society’s Top Ten List of Most Endangered Buildings"

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Steve Goodman
As previously reported, when the FJ petition mentioned reached over 3000 signatures it was presented to the council (who then almost served an Urgent Works Notice, as was also reported). This latest announcement is another reminder of the danger of losing forever the special buildings & places contributing so much to the character of our shared environment, and the stupidity of failing to look after what is… Read more »
Mason Watch

I see that ‘the owner’ remains unnamed. Surely if it was a multi millionaire who owns a considerable amount of Cowes property they would see the sense in dealing with this issue. Just thinking out loud……


Recently there was a STOP THE ROT meeting held at Northwood House (rather ironic) and there were speakers from English Heritage etc. Apparently the Isle of Wight has one of the worst track records for maintaining it’s listed buildings. The neglect has been going on for years and it’s an absolute disgrace.