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This site started by chance. I was digitising a book of old black and white two and a quarter inch photographic negatives I had. While I was doing this I came across a set of images of model cranes. These were some models had made years ago when working for Coles Cranes in Sunderland.

Employed as their model maker my job involved making models of vintage Coles Cranes as well as new prototype and current cranes.

As I was copying my negatives I began to wonder how many other vintage cranes I would have been ask to make had I stayed at Coles. I also wondered if any of the prototypes had been made.

So started a small investigation that like Topsy grew and grew as I found out more and more about Coles. Having all this information I decided to put it up in the Internet as there was little else about Coles on the net. From a small beginning the site started to attract people with more information and images of their cranes. All this has grown the site to its current position and it may even grow further.


It all bagan when I saw an advert for a model maker in Design Magazine. I applied for the job and to my supprise got it. Thus in 1970 I packed my bag and moved to Sunderland, stopping only to look up where Sunderland was.

For information about Sunderland see section on homepage.

Suddenly I was looking out over the river Wear model maker to the worshipful company of Coles Cranes, I became interested in cranes.

Two strange coincidences collided just when I applyed for the job.

First, the model I was to take for the interview, a big architectural building I had made, (Image left) which had been lowned to me for the interview, was too big to fit into the car so I left that and took a thing I had been making as a hobby model. A steam driven Ready Mix concrete waggon. (Left Bottom)

Select here for details of Ready Mix model.

Second, it turned out the company were looking in fact for someone who could not only make models of current cranes but soneone who could build vintage models for a little muesum of their history. As they had few or no drawings for some of these old cranes they needed someone with a bit of imagination who did not necessarily worry about working from a couple of photographs.


To the risht a picture of the workshop. This was on the first floor at the far end of the factory, there was also a small spray shop downstairs.

Space was always at a premium and it was noisy as internal windows looked over the jib fabrication area. It all went quiet during the tea breaks when the welders would boil billy cans of tea over their welding torches. (they were gas)

The window in the photo, one of two, looked over the river Wear where I could see the rusty hulk of a ship on the opposite bank that I thought was being dismantled, until one day it was painted and launched. It could have been one of the last large ships launched on the Wear.

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