This project was initiated to secure the future of a unique crane which was manufactured in Cornwall by the clay industry. The crane was used to build incline railways on the slopes of growing spoil heaps - the iconic ‘white pyramids’ of waste material from the mining process. 

The crane is exhibited outdoors and was suffering badly from the effects of corrosion.

Mobile crane at Wheal Martyn - before restoration  Mobile crane at Wheal Martyn - restoration begins

The project involved three phases. The first covered assessment of the mechanical condition and establishment of a planning and control document with input from a consultant conservator. Practical work followed, using mostly hand tools and manual methods to dismantle the crane into its component parts, renew and/or refurbish them as required, and subsequently re-assemble and paint. Finally the project was documented, including the production of a conservators report and planning ongoing future maintenance.

Mobile crane at Wheal Martyn - restoration continues  Mobile crane at Wheal Martyn - Curator gives a helping hand

The project was led by our Curator with specialist advice on conservation techniques and material coatings provided by specialist Peter Meehan of the Historic Metalwork Conservation Company. A fantastic team of five volunteers carried out the practical work, contributing over 1,000 hours to painstakingly restore the crane to its former glory. This tremendous effort was recently recognised by a ‘Heritage Heroes’ award at the Cornwall Heritage Awards and lead volunteer Peter Banister was asked to deliver a case study on the project at an ABTEM event in Bristol early this year.

Mobile crane at Wheal Martyn - restoration complete     Cornwall Heritage Awards March 2018

The project was funded through the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) Conservation Scheme, supported by The Pilgrim Trust. Funds were used to cover the costs of a specialist conservation consultant, the hire of lifting equipment, purchase of tools and equipment and costs of materials such as paint and replacement parts.