On 26th November, Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, passed a decision to demolish the unique blue Cargo Cranes on Salford Quays, reasoning that they were in a "dangerous condition", posed a "hazard to the public" and that "Given the state of the economic climate, a double dip recession and the threat to cuts in frontline services, the option of repair is not considered practicable".
All this, despite money being ring fenced from previous pre-cuts budgets to restore the Cranes and Salford Council itself admitting its neglect in letting them get into their current condition (see here).
Now, following an application from a member of the public, English Heritage has stepped in to assess the heritage value of the Cranes, as new evidence emerges that they are DD2 type cranes with, uniquely, one leg. The other, four legged DD2s are in Canary Wharf and Bristol.
An English Heritage spokesperson confirmed that "the application is currently being considered and, following assessment, a report will be made to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport".
If English Heritage decide that these one legged specimens are of heritage value, they will be listed and saved for the City.
Meanwhile, Salford Council's own expensive estimates of restoration costs for the Cranes have been questioned by a crane company which is willing to step in and provide new lower costings if there is a chance of saving them.
"It is heartening to see people making a stand in opposition to the Council's plans, the strength of feeling that there is within the community for retaining and restoring our heritage and the positive sounds being made from the organisations that are able to safeguard the Cranes" says James Walsh who has started a Save Our Cranes facebook group, and whose father, featured on a Quays sculpture tribute to the dockers, was a Welfare Officer for the National Dock Labour Board.
James, who has written an open letter to Ian Stewart, adds: "I don't believe that demolishing the cranes is `people before cranes'. It should be people and cranes. Surely repairing and maintaining the cranes equals sustainable jobs for future local generations…"
As residents await the English Heritage report, they are taking heart that the Tree of Knowledge in Charlestown was saved by English Heritage, literally as the bulldozers were about to begin work (see here).
A protest against the Cranes demolition is planned before Christmas. Further details to follow…
* main photo shows James Walsh of Save Our Cranes