Has any single structure come to represent Glasgow more than the Finnieston Crane? Probably not. A relic of the age when Glasgow’s shipyards made this one of the most powerful and important industrial cities in the world, the giant grey cantilever crane – still emblazoned with the title of its former owners Clydeport, and one of just four remaining such cranes on the Clyde – is no longer in working order today. But it has been wisely retained and recontextualised in new proximity to such shiny modern buildings as the Armadillo, The Hydro, the Glasgow Science Centre and the BBC Scotland headquarters, as a potent and emotive 53 metre-tall symbol of proud engineering heritage.
It’s just one among several landmarks on the Clyde – the famous river upon which Glasgow is built – which can be experienced along a relatively short walk from Glasgow Green east of the city centre upriver to Govan. From the St Andrews footbridge and the Kingston motorway bridge, to the modern Tradeston Bridge, Bells Bridge, Millennium Bridge and The Clyde Arc (or the Squinty Bridge, as it’s known, for its odd shape), there’s a crossing for practically every era of modern Glasgow history. Carry on past Pacific Quay, the SECC precinct and the Finnieston Crane and you’ll eventually reach Glasgow’s spectacular new Riverside Museum, opened in 2011.
If you’re feeling especially energetic, make your way all the way out to Clydebank, and you can visit another crane not dissimilar to that at Finnieston (the two are often confused), the Titan Clydebank. The subject of a £3.75 millions restoration project in the mid-2000s, the Titan Clydebank has since 2007 been open as a visitor attraction and shipbuilding museum. The jib has been converted to a viewing platform, from which on a clear day you can take in views up and down the Clyde for many miles.