Armstrong Mitchell Hydraulic Crane, Arsenale

About the project

The Armstrong Mitchell hydraulic crane, a massive machine and the only one of its kind left in the world, is in need of urgent conservation to halt its rapid decay.
This is the Fund’s first Industrial Heritage project and reflects increasing awareness and enthusiasm for this history.

Visitors can see the crane on the dockside when they visit the Biennale art exhibitions in the Arsenale or join one of the increasing number of tours organised as part of Arsenale Open Days, or by the Italian Navy or local associations.

The Armstrong Mitchell Crane, no. 2919, is the only remaining model of its type, others across the world have been demolished as dockyards have modernised. Designed by the great Victorian engineer Sir William Armstrong and built in Newcastle where his legacy includes the university and the famous swing bridge, this crane also has an important place in the history of Venice.

After the formation of the Kingdom of Italy, the Arsenale once again became a naval garrison and shipyard of strategic importance where the new metal-hulled ships with the steam engines were built. The crane is the prime surviving testimony of that period.

How to find it

In brief

  • Venice in Peril Fund’s first campaign to save this masterpiece of engineering date to 2003. Since then €132,000 has been spent on conservation maintenance and making the crane safe.
  • In 2013, €15,000 was spent reinforcing the straps that hold the ballast container together and to update the report on its condition.
  • Phase I of the fully worked up project is costed at €390,000 and a further approximately €1.6million will be needed to complete the project.
  • Despite all attempts a saviour of William Armstrong’s mighty machine has not yet been identified.
  • For further information please contact us.

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