Plans of Fairfield Titan Crane

Scope and Content

This collection contains plans for the Fairfield Titan Crane, and proposed modifications and testing to the built crane. Drawings originate from Stothert & Pitt, Limited; Fairfield Shipping and Engineering, Co., Govan; and Sir William Arrol and Co.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fairfield Titan Crane was built in 1911 by the Fairfield Shipping and Engineering Company Limited, Sir William Arrol and Co., and Stothert and Pitt Limited. Construction occurred under Fairfield Shipping and Engineering Company Limited and Sir William Arrol and Co., while Stothert and Pitt Limited likely fabricated and installed most of the machinery for the Titan, including electric motors built by Lancashire Dynamo and Motor Co. Fairfield Shipping and Engineering Company Limited, located in the Govan area of Glasgow, was a successful Scottish shipbuilding and construction company whose most prolific years were between 1886 and 1968. Founded by Charles Randolph in 1834 as a millwright business under Randolph, Elliot & Co. and renamed to Randolph, Elder & Co with the addition of John Elder in 1852, the Fairfield shipyard was formally opened in Govan in 1858. Randolph apprenticed with Robert Napier, known as the father of shipbuilding on the Clyde, while John Elder distinguished himself through the development of the marine compound engine. The company came under sole partnership by John Elder in 1968, followed by sole partnership by naval architect Sir William Pearce in 1878. Their combined achievements allowed the Fairfield Shipping and Engineering Company, converted to a limited company and renamed in 1886, to become the largest and busiest of the Clyde shipyards with nearly 450 ships built between 1886 and 1971. Production declined following World War II, leading to the amalgamation of different firms on the Clyde and renaming of Fairfield to Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in 1968 and subsequently to Govan Shipbuilders, British Shipbuilders, Kvaerner Govan and currently, BAE Systems Surface Ships.

The Fairfield Titan began as having a 200 ton tested capacity, but was uprated in 1941 to 250 tons before being derated shortly thereafter to 220 tons. The main hoist was powered by two 48kW electric motors and could lift to a maximum radius of 49 meters. The Titan cranes utilized a fixed counterweight and electronically operated hoists mounted on a rotated beam, which allowed for faster lifting than steam powered cranes. While the Fairfield Titan could lift 200 to 250 tons in a load, such weights were not consistently necessary; a 30 ton auxiliary hoist and other small assemblies were created and utilized for smaller loads.

Sir William Arrol and Co. was a prominent Scottish civil engineering business based in Dalmarnock in Glasgow, responsible for the construction of notable bridges, titan cranes, and subsequent use of cranes for ships such as the SS Titanic. Sir William Arrol, founder of the firm, developed specialized equipment and techniques for manufacture that are still utilized in modern engineering, most particularly in large-scale construction. Sir William Arrol and Co. was founded in 1869, with the additional establishment of the Dalmarnock Iron Works in 1871, and continued until the company was taken over by Clarke Chapman in 1969. The best known projects of Sir William Arrol and Co. outside of Scotland are the Tower Bridge in London, the Nile Bridge in Egypt, the Hawkesbury Bridge in Australia, and the Arrol Gantry at the Harland & Wolff Shipyards in Belfast which was used to build the SS Titanic and her two sister ships.
Stothert and Pitt Limited was an engineering company founded as an ironmongery in 1785 by George Stothert, with their own foundry established by 1815 and an exhibition at the Great Exhibition. Robert Pitt, a British politician, joined the company in 1844. Over the next 150 years, Stothert and Pitt built a range of products from dock cranes to cast iron household items. The company was sold to the Hollis Group in 1986, while the name was sold to Clarke Chapman and hold headquarters in Brislington.

Babtie Shaw and Morton was a civil engineering firm in Glasgow who worked primarily on bridges, dams, and reservoirs. Established in 1906 via the merger of Babtie & Bonn, established 1897, and Shaw & Morton, established 1898, the company later became the Babtie Group and acquired multiple consulting engineering firms in the 1990s. Jacobs Engineering Group absorbed the Babtie Group in 2004.

Jacobs Engineering Group, publicly referred to as Jacobs, is an international technical professional services and engineering firm, founded in 1947. Jacobs is a Fortune 500 company, focused in Aerospace and Technology, Buildings and Infrastructure, Industrial, and Petroleum and Chemicals. Since its founding, Jacobs has absorbed more than 70 businesses.

The crane was established as a Grade A listed structure in 1989, but dismantled in 2007 as part of BAE Systems' plans to modernise the Fairfield shipyard. Although no longer standing, the Fairfield Titan Crane reflects the dominance of the West of Scotland from the late 19th to early 20th centuries in shipbuilding; at present, of the 7 titan cranes in the world, 4 are in the West of Scotland. The Fairfield Titan was the largest crane in the world for decades following its construction, with over 50 tons capacity over the closest Titan crane, and is the predecessor to the Clydebank Titan, which is in current use as a heritage site and shipbuilding museum. The Fairfield Titan also has its own song, The Fairfield Crane or Shipyard Apprentice by Archie Fisher and Norman Buchan for the BBC radio series, Landmarks.

Reference List:
'Arrol and Co Ltd.' Sir William Arrol.,
Dictionary of Scottish Architects,
'Fairfield Shipyard.' Clyde Waterfront,
'Glasgow, Govan Road, Fairfield Shipyard, Giant Cantilever Crane.' Canmore: National Record of the Historic Environment,
'Shipbuilding and Fairfield's Ships.' Fairfield Govan. Govan Workspace Limited,
'Sir William Arrol.' Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.
'Titan Crane Clydebank.' Collective Architecture. Collective Architecture Limited,
University of Glasgow Story biography of Charles Randolph,


The Fairfield Crane plans are organized into a single series: Structural Plans, composed of blueprints and drawings relating to the creation and modification of the crane.

Access Information

This collection is open to use. To view the collection, please contact the archivist to arrange a visit.

Other Finding Aids

The full catalogue is available on our website. To view the catalogue, please click here: Plans for Fairfield Titan Crane

Custodial History

The material was gifted by Jacobs UK Ltd. The collection was subsequently accessioned into the West Dunbartonshire collection.