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Historic crane’s face-lift begins

04 Oct 2018

Historic crane’s face-lift begins Image

Restoration of a 70-year-old wharf crane at the heritage-listed Goods Shed 5 has started.

The 1948 electric travelling crane and its disused industrial waterfront site are recognised as the most intact cargo berth in the Port of Melbourne remaining from the pre-containerisation era.

The crane is set to undergo structural reinforcement and cosmetic restoration by developer Riverlee before being relocated to the eastern end of the shed.

The works are part of Riverlee’s $450 million redevelopment of the Northbank Goods Shed and surrounding land, where it hopes to retain “the unique character and history of the site”.

It purchased the land, located between Spencer St and Charles Grimes Bridge, for $28.5 million from the state government in 2015.

The new site, set to be called Seafarers Place, will comprise 150 luxurious residences, a 5-star hotel with 280 rooms and a 1000-seat function centre, alongside retail amenity.

Riverlee’s development director David Lee said in August it would remain sympathetic to Shed 5’s industrial past.

“We are committed to rebuilding connections between people and places by delivering a master-planned precinct that is rich in history, adding to Melbourne’s vibrant culture,” Mr Lee said.

“The open spaces and public park are designed to give the waterfront back to the community and celebrate the unique character and history of the site.”

The crane’s retention over the years is described by the Heritage Council as both “unusual” and “important” as it demonstrates the cargo-handling methods used before shipping containers became commonplace around the world.

The shed’s operational period, however, significantly predates the crane’s inception in 1948.

The site itself has operated as a wharf since 1855.

The berth became largely disused after 1975 when the river above the Charles Grimes Bridge was closed to large vessels.

It was recognised in 2002 for its historical and scientific significance to Victoria.

Crane and wharf restoration works are expected to be complete later this year with hotel construction slated for mid-2019.

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