Dismantled crane ….a taste of things to come?

Irvine harbour side

Irvine harbour side

As anyone who reads this blog regularly will know, I work at the Courtyard Studios on the harbour side at Irvine. My space is in the old part of the building that faces the road, and across that, the river and saltings. Until three days ago, just 200 m up the road was an old crane, one of several that used to be used to load and unload vessels visiting Irvine. Even to an outsider like me, it seemed to be an important part of the harbour side, indeed of Irvine’s history …..It was definitely a local landmark and one that gave interest to this wonderful harbour side.

That was of course until three days ago….when it was dismantled and carted half a mile away to be placed in the yard of the Maritime Museum. For the last five or so years I guess, the old crane had not been maintained and the buffeting winter gales had taken their toll. Bits had blown off, the paintwork peeled and the jib was a mass of rust. It seems a shame that such an important part of the towns history and identity as a once important port, should be allowed to fall into disrepair. On hearing of the cranes demise, one of my colleagues visited the towns planning department and apparently the crane has been taken to the Maritime Museum and if funds become available it’ll be restored and a place found for it once again…..lets hope so. Of course, its removal has nothing to do with the planned redevelopment of the Harbour side area ……hmmmmm!

The crane, Irvine harbour side

The crane, Irvine harbour side

Today has been a beautiful day, bright sun and the first real heat of the year. We had thought about heading for a hill today but as we both have a lot of work on we decided to have a less tiring day. Instead, we walked from my studio, out to the sea and then along the beach all the way to Troon, several miles down the Ayrshire coast.

We started, of course, by looking at the space where the crane used to be ..nothing now but the old wooden jetty that similarly, seems to be falling into disrepair and has been fenced off for a good number of years. Will this too be removed at some stage? Just beyond this point the River Irvine meets the River Garnock and together they flow the last few hundred metres before entering the Firth of Clyde. They flow under the footbridge that was built at huge expense to get visitors over to the Big Idea …a science centre that was built to mark the millennium. Sadly, although it was apparently very good, it only lasted for a few years before closing and sitting empty ever since. The wonderful bridge (built to open and close to allow boats access to the harbour) was opened after the final visitor left and has remained so ever since. Let’s hope the new planned developments for the harbour side are going to be better thought out than this our local millennium white elephant.

Close up of the crane, Irvine harbour side

Close up of the crane, Irvine harbour side

Most of the area between the Courtyard studios and the sea is grass. It’s a large area containing a large pond, good quality footpaths and is a fine safe area for folk to come for a stroll, joggers to jog and kids to play …it’s an important recreational area for the town. Today with this warm weather, a lot of people had made their way to the harbour side, all enjoying the grassed areas, the fine views and the beach. The wild life too was out in force this morning with the Skylarks singing above the dunes and the saltings, Eider ducks floating just off of the beach, Oyster catchers and Curlews calling from the mud on the far side of the river.

Much of this area is due for development …housing, retail and commercial units apparently. And there was a big sign on the bridge that suggested development on the far side of the river too. If this takes place I wonder what will happen to the wildlife and whether this now quite peaceful area that pulls in visitors both local and from far afield, will lose the very thing that people come for.

 

The crane close up

The crane close up

People say that with the studios being right in the middle of the new development, that it’ll be good for business. Maybe, but as an artist I worry about what the developers have in mind. I very much doubt that it is going to be as peaceful, as beautiful or indeed as interesting as it is now. Is the missing crane just a taste of things to come? We’ll wait and see I guess. I hope in a few years I can write and say I was wrong.

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