IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! IT’S A HAMMERHEAD CRANE!!
Don’t blink, you may miss it… The future of this iconic Sydney structure is on the chopping table of the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, The Hon Tony Burke MP. Removal has been recommended by the Department of Defence, as outlined in a Media Release in response to public submissions, many of which were, conveniently, in favour of removal.
The Department intends introducing new Hobart Class Destroyers to the Garden Island site by March 2017, and these ships are larger than the Adelaide class they are replacing and have helicopter landing facilities onboard, and it has been noted that the Garden Island Crane may get in the way of business for the RAN. Also, maintenance and restoration costs have been labelled prohibitive under the Defence budget. “Every centimetre of compromise given to this crane takes away from our Navy’s ability to use Garden Island to its best possible advantage… It is a liability that costs over $700,000 just to keep it standing there safely. This is money that comes straight out of our Defence budget. Every year the crane stands, that’s $700,000 or more that our nation loses to real Defence capability” said Senator David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. In reality, this figure has been refuted and may in fact be the total spent on the crane’s upkeep over a number of years.
So heritage is the loser once again. A Victorian bureaucrat singing the praises of demolishing a Sydney landmark… One that is listed as a state significant item, one that is part of the very fabric of the Commonwealth listed Garden Island Precinct, one that is coveted by the National Trust as well as the greater public, and one that is located well within the World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House buffer zone, and forms a clear visual link between, thereby contravening UNESCO standards to remove such a heritage item from its said location. The Defence-commissioned heritage assessment itself concludes that “the removal of the hammerhead crane will have a significant impact on the historic heritage environment of the Garden Island Precinct. The removal of the hammerhead crane will be irreversible, changing the skyline of Sydney by removing an historic element which has been in place since its construction commenced in 1944 and use in 1951.”
On top of that, in Scotland similar cranes have been given the greatest heritage protection afforded, some being adapted as successful tourist attractions. Here in Sydney a development application was proposed to turn the crane into a restaurant, but that was quickly skuttled. Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore graciously submitted a letter to the Prime Minister outlining the value of retaining such a marvel of postwar industrial heritage as a symbol to the people of Sydney – this crane is really our Sydney Harbour Bridge’s little brother for crying out loud, there is a visual and contextual living and breathing link there… we have already lost one heritage crane The Titan in the 90’s and the story of that ending up at the bottom of the sea somewhere between here and Singapore is truly saddening. Well here goes another.
If the location of the Hammerhead poses such a logistical issue, then it should be relocated to Cockatoo Island or somewhere similar where it could be cherished in a post-industrial heritage dockside environment. It’s really a giant Meccano kit so it should be able to be dismantled and moved by all those brainy naval engineers without posing too much of a challenge. C’mon Australia, use your technical know-how for once.
Equally important as the Hammerhead crane, maritime industrial vestige, is the Hammerhead crane as a piece of urban art and one that may provide inspiration to new generations of artists and art-lovers alike. Remember they simply don’t build things like this anymore, and there are only a handful worldwide, so when they disappear from the skyline, they aren’t coming back again, and the realms of industrial art as a muse or simply a backdrop to our modern ‘evolved’ lifestyle are constantly shrinking.
“…this crane is really our Sydney Harbour Bridge’s little brother for crying out loud!” – Inheritance
I strongly urge members of the public, whether you live in Sydney or not, to contact Minister Tony Burke with your concerns over the intended removal of our Hammerhead crane ASAP. This is the eleventh hour now, it’s your last chance to get behind this piece of engineering history before it is gone forever. It will only take a minute of your time.
Please feel free to use my letter below as a template, alter it as you wish or copy it word for word, and send it to the link below.
Dear Mr. Burke.
It is with great alarm that I have heard the Royal Australian Navy intends to remove the famous Hammerhead Crane at Garden Island. This is an iconic landmark for our city and a great reminder of our naval indusrial past. It is a link to the great British Empire and a visual tie to our working harbour past. On top of this, it is a National Trust listed item as well as being located within the World Heritage Listed Opera House Buffer Zone and would contravene direct protocol of UNESCO guidelines to remove such an important landmark from the skyline surrounding Sydney Harbour.
I would like to ask you to consider the heritage value of this important historical monument above just a maintenance dollar value. All great buildings require a maintenance and/or restoration budget, this is not a unique example. If we continue losing so much of our heritage we will lose our entire identity as a nation.
(Insert your name here)
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“If we continue losing so much of our heritage we will lose our entire identity as a nation.” – Inheritance
Going, going, … All images copyright 2013 Inheritance.