Huge crane floated down the river as Guildhall restoration enters new stage

The floating crane will be a feature for a year or more. Photographs: Richard McDougall

A crane has been installed alongside the Guildhall on the River Ouse – where it will remain for about a year to do much of the heavy lifting on the restoration project.

The huge structure was floated down the river by barge today – from Queen’s Staith, under Ouse Bridge, to the Guildhall near Lendal.


Speaking before the crane set sail, project manager Robert Henderson from VINCI Construction said it would be a “tight fit” but that the team had double checked all the measurements.

He said: “You don’t see many projects that have to be serviced from the river. The problem with Guildhall is it doesn’t have any road frontage.”

Rubbish goes to Goole

Piling high
Mr Henderson a tower crane is due to go up on Tuesday and people will be able to see visible changes to the building in the next few months. He added:

  • I haven’t done any job with this kind of river logistics before.

    The crane will be used to lift everything on to the site.

    It will be quite visible from across the skyline and will be there for about a year.

    All the waste will be loaded into a barge, the demolition rubble, and will be taken to Goole.

    All the equipment and materials for the re-build will be lifted in by crane.

Year-long project

One of the tugs at work
He hopes the work inspires young people to consider engineering careers: “Hopefully this project could get more people interested in construction and engineering careers, that’s important to me from a personal point of view.

“We have an intern from York College and we are working with the council to encourage school visits, when we could show pupils around the site so they can see what a career in construction might look like.

Cllr Nigel Ayre said the Guildhall restoration is due to be completed by spring 2021.


He added: “It’s really moving on at pace, one of the challenges has been working in the winter but we are getting there.

“Since the crane has been in place there has been interest from people walking past and wondering what’s going on. I think it will really start to get a lot more public engagement once the project is moving forward.”