Harwich Town Council

The Guildhall,
Church Street,
Harwich. CO12 3DS

t: 01255 507211
e: info@harwichtowncouncil.co.uk
Hours: 9.30am – 1pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday


Restoration works on the Scheduled Monument and Grade ll* listed Treadwheel Crane, a unique building in Historic Harwich, are progressing well with further details of the building’s past uncovered at a special event hosted by Tendring District Council (TDC).

The event gave project stakeholders and the Board of the Harwich Society an opportunity to get up close to the building during restoration and to hear from partners involved about the crane’s history.

Dating back to 1745 it was revealed by the buildings analyst following research that Harwich’s Treadwheel Crane is considered to be the only surviving example of a man-operated double-wheeled crane in the country.

Works to the structure include repairing a ground slab which has failed, causing subsidence, as well as careful repairs based on the premise of ‘just enough and no more’ to the roof, timber frame, and to the crane itself.

Following completion of a phase of research funded by TDC and Historic England, which has revealed much more about the true archaeological, architectural and historic significance of the monument, a grant of more than £140,000 was awarded to TDC as part of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund scheme to fund the restoration of the Treadwheel Crane. The work is due for completion by spring 2022.

An experimental but traditional technique using Swedish Pine Tar and sail cloth, rather than modern paint will be used to weatherproof the conical roof and the weatherboarding. Details will be available on Historic England’s website for downloading once the work has been completed.

Historic England awarded the figure from the second round of its Heritage Stimulus Fund – part of the Culture Recovery Fund – to support repairs to the Treadwheel Crane. TDC, which owns the crane, funded the remaining 25% of the repair cost of almost £47,000.

Mary Newton, TDC Cabinet Member for Business and Economic Growth, said it was important to protect the area’s heritage.

“Harwich particularly has a very long maritime history and this crane has stood the test of time; I think it’s necessary that we keep all of our historic artefacts in good working order for future generations,” Cllr Newton said.

Trudi Hughes, Heritage at Risk Surveyor, Historic England said: “It’s so exciting that we now understand so much more about the remains of the Treadwheel Crane and what it tells us about Harwich’s rich maritime history.

“It retains the evidence of various phases of ‘make do and mend’ repairs that would have been carried out in the old navy yard by the ‘House Carpenters’. This evidence is being carefully retained in the repair and conservation works.”

To find out more about Historic Harwich visit www.historicharwich.co.uk or for further details about the Treadwheel Crane go to the Harwich Society website at www.harwich-society.co.uk

View Historic England’s video featuring specialist crafts workers whose work and skills are supported through the Heritage Stimulus Fund

About the Culture Recovery Fund

  • The government’s record-breaking £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund is the biggest ever one-off cash injection into UK culture. Since the start of the pandemic, almost £2 billion has been invested to tackle the crisis facing the country’s most loved arts organisations and heritage sites.

About the Heritage Stimulus Fund

  • The Heritage Stimulus Fund is part of the Culture Recovery Fund and is administered by Historic England on behalf of the government.
  • The first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund has already enabled repair and maintenance work at more than 800 of the country’s treasured heritage assets and has protected the jobs of expert crafts workers in the sector.
  • Grants allocated in this latest round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund will continue to support a large number of projects carried out by a variety of specialists and workers across the country, thereby supporting this vulnerable sector as the nation re-opens.

About Historic England

We are Historic England, the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

About the Treadwheel Crane

The crane was originally located around a quarter-mile north of its current location as part of the original Harwich docks where it was alongside a slipway most famous for launching the 24-gun HMS Seahorse – served upon by later Admiral Nelson as a midshipman. The crane was moved in 1932 to St Helen’s Green and is currently on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk list.