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In Praise of Cranes Overhead


Many of us don’t like to think too hard about everything that happens in the background of our lives that allow us to go about our business in relative comfort and enjoyment, with convenient transport that takes us where we want to go, heating and cooling in the walls of our buildings so we may never feel a temperature that we do not like, delicious and varied food available on every street ready and waiting for whatever takes our fancy.

 

But where does it all come from? Do you ever imagine rewinding the path of the materials in your life to discover where the came from and how they got to you? For instance the steel beams that hold up the roof of your favorite sporting stadium. The steel for those beams was mined out of the ground somewhere, shaped into exact specifications, transported on the back of truck (that itself was constructed out of mined materials), skillfully driven all night by a hairy fellow who spends long hours of his life behind the wheel staring down a long straight road, until finally they arrived at their destination and were hoisted into the pre-ordained position by a beautiful piece of machinery known as a crane. What about that low hum of the engine down below the docks of that cruise ship taking you around the Bahamas? You would never be able to traverse such beautiful scenery in such style and comfort and security were it not for one of those long-legged Gantry Cranes that sit high and proud over docks around the world lifting the heavy engines from workshops and into the belly of those boats.


There are all types of cranes in operation around the world today. There are the small cranes mounted to the back of a tradie’sute to help him lift the generator onto the ground and then there are huge Overhead Cranes that are responsible for lifting the heavy engines into ships that transport so many of our valued goods around the world. Almost everything we buy was either made overseas or from materials that were sourced overseas. Isn’t it fascinating to think that almost everything we use in our day to day life is available to use because of this one dedicated piece of machinery that has been refined over hundreds of years by the best engineering minds on the planet to be ever more efficient and weight hoisting capacities that are forever growing. There is a long history of human sacrifice behind the strength and power of cranes, men who worked them tirelessly and the families they left behind went something went wrong. As the industry has changed and manufacturing has become cheaper in other parts of the world, many communities that used to rely on the work that these cranes provided have struggled as the work disappears. Indeed, because they are so huge and not worth removing there are many lifeless overhead cranes dotting the harbors’ of ghostly towns and cities around the world.

 

I suppose its no coincidence that these grand machines share their name with the bird that is at once elegant and graceful but unexpectedly powerful. The word itself is mysterious, it’s single syllable is complex, harsh to begin and soft to finish, denoting both creature and machine.

 

So the next time you are going out west of the city and the skyline is blocked by these towering monolithic overhead cranes, bearing the names of their owners stenciled along their side, city cranes or millsom.com.au, growing like huge skeletal trees out of an industrial wasteland, take a moment to consider just how lucky we are for these great construction beasts towering overhead.


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