A black and white photo of a cranes jib

The History of the Crane

As NMT Crane Hire Ltd celebrates its 40th anniversary, let’s head back to our roots and uncover the story behind these historical pieces of machinery.

The resemblance is uncanny; A long, slender neck and a drooping snout, cranes may share their name with a graceful bird, but their work is far from it. Tasked with lifting tonnes of blocks, boulders and metal every single day, cranes have helped design and assemble some of the most iconic buildings of all time.

Despite their capabilities, cranes have relatively humble beginnings.

Ancient Greece

Although the history of NMT Crane Hire only dates back 40 years, the story behind the crane dates all the way back to Ancient Greece. The earliest documented reference to the crane is associated to Aristotle who details the basic mechanics of the new instrument. Invented by the Greeks in the 6th century, the use of a winch and pulley system replaced the use of ramps, which allowed the Greeks to build higher and to build quicker. The CV of the crane got off to an impressive start, having helped construct the Acropolis in Athens; the centrepiece of an incredibly historic city.

Roman Empire

As the Roman Empire seizes control of Europe, the Romans adopt and adapt the crane to become more industrious and more efficient. This is where we see the introduction of the treadwheel crane. This human powered version of the crane would be used to sculpt castles and cathedrals all over Europe and became the go-to technology for decades before being developed.

The gothic cities of Western Europe also owe thanks to the crane, as countries copy the highly efficient model of the treadwheel crane and begin decorating their skylines with cathedrals and other monuments. France, Holland and Germany still hold immense pride in their gothic towns and cities to this day.

The Industrial Revolution

As a mechanical progressiveness sweeps across Europe, Britain displays its first significant use of the crane during the industrial revolution. This is when we see the end to wooden, man-powered cranes and the birth of hydraulic, iron cranes which are used to construct factories and accelerate Britain into a position of international strength.

As the years roll on, the technology of cranes develops gradually with the smallest of adjustments. The cranes we see today still hold a resemblance to those used in the construction of New York in the thirties. Eventually, as the decades past, we are left with the enormous structures that parade our horizons; yet, despite their size and stature, they act as a subtle reminder to the power of science and technology.

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