'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyage’ is a work in progress, commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, and due to be completed in the autumn of 2008. The following tale represents research I have undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.
In 1898, Sir John Purser Griffith succeeded Stoney to become ‘Engineer in Chief’ of the Dublin Port and Docks. His achievement at Dublin Port included the deepening of the approaches to the quays, many of which were rebuilt. But for many decades, his most visible legacy was the 100 Ton Crane that stood on the North Wall Quay Extension. This was the first electric crane in Ireland. Griffith hit upon the idea at the turn of the century when he visited his friend Johannes Dalmann, Chief Engineer in Hamburg Port, and discovered such cranes were all the rage in Kaiser Wilhelm II’s increasingly industrial Fatherland. The new Corporation electricity set up at the Pigeon House were about to come on-stream. Griffith decided electricity was the way forward and commissioned the crane from Munich-based engineering company MAN AG (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg Nürnberg AG). The motors were designed by Siemens Brother’s of London.
The crane was erected in 1904 and began operations in July 1905. It was actually tested in 1905 with a weight of 150 tons. The foreman was so confident in his men’s ability to erect it that he stood under it while it was being lifted. The crane quickly became a majotr landmark to such an extent that, when the Great War finally ended, the highest flag in Dublin hung from its beams. For 81 years, it stood and worked, day in, day out, loading and unloading an immense amount of goods. It was a long way up the spiral staircase to the top of the crane. Niall Dardis, who worked in the engineer’s office for many decades, said you’d be ‘pucked’ by the time you got there. ‘The smell in it was desperate’, he recalled. ‘Pigeons would roost in it and make their mess and there was always broken eggs’. One of its last jobs was the unloading of the Dart carriages in the early nineteen eighties. By then it had been derated to 50 tons as the foundation bolts holding it had started to weaken In 1986 the crane was decommissioned and some time later demolished.