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The City of Sunderland now has a population of just under 300,000 and is the largest city between Edinburgh and Leeds. It is situated on the north east coast of England, with access to some of the most beautiful countryside in England.

It is just south of Newcastle Upon Tyne, which is not how the people of Sunderland like to be described. It is on the coast at the estuary of the river Wear.

For more information than you really want, visit the Sunderland tourist web site at :

In 1939 Coles needed to expand and moved from Derby to the Crown works on the banks of the Wear in Sunderland. This drawing (right) taken from a one of their own catalogues of 1949 and is the earliest known view of the works.

The aerial view (left) of the site was taken around the 1950s and shows the works on the banks of the Wear. This was from a catalogue about port cranes and emphasis was made about the loading dock on the bank of the river which was probably still in use for goods delivery at that time.

Moving on to the mid 1970s this aerial shot shows how the factory has expanded. The areas are the factory are detailed below :-

1. Main office block
2. Hydra Truck Assembly
3. Machine Shop
4. Machine Shop
5. Heat treatment & Maintenance
6. Reasearch and Development Dept
7. Strut Jib welding, Shot Blast
8. Foundry 
9. Test and snagging area
10. Test and snagging works   
11. Paint Shops
12. Sheet Metal, Cabs & Decking
13. Crane Assembly
14. New parts Dept
15. New Fabrication Dept
16. R&D Office Block 
17. Crane Test Beds
18. Apprentice Training
19. Sports club.  

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1. 2.
Heavy Line, West Factory Hydra Shop

Image 1. Foreground left - Illustrious Diesel Electric Tower Crane. Behind it Gargantua surestructure, then its chassis. Foreground right Hydra 33/36T, minus boom.

Image 2. Two lines of Hydra 12T and 15T (2 and 3 axle denotes difference). Note the mixture of right and left hand drives.

3. 4.
Crane Test Bed Hydraulic Boom Fabrication

Image 3. Right, an Adonis cantilever jib. Left foreground are 2 x Vigorous Mobile strut jib. Background, lower bed, Adonis mobile strut jib. To the left a Hydra 45/50T. Then further 2x Hydra 15T. On upper Test Bed a mixture of Diesel Electric and Hydraulic Truck cranes.

Image 4. Jubelee factory area was devoted to the production of hydraulic boom section whch were built on the flow line principle.

At its height there were about three thousand people working on the site. Although this sounds impressive, it was not producing enough profit for such a large work force and competition from abroad was catching up. As can be seen from the variety of units on the production line they were made as almost as one off units tailored to the buyers requirements.

Thanks Bill Halland & Tom Cockburn

Below is a series of photographs of the Crown Works taken in 1968 by Arthur Cannings who I wish to thank for his permission to use these images.
The first two images show the end of the main office block (building with spiral staircase) containing the administration and design offices.
(The yellow numbers on the aerial photo above shows where the photos were taken.)

1. 2. 3.
Photo from position 'd' Photo from position 'd' Photo from position 'a'
4. 5. 6.
Photo from position 'b' Photo from position 'b' Photo from position 'c' left
7. 8. 9.
Photo from position 'c' left Photo from position 'c' Photo from position 'c' right
10 11 12
Photo from position 'c' right Photo from position 'e' 'weigh bridge behind small building '2'
Crown works, probably renamed is still there, this aerial shot taken around 2006 shows how the factory has been revamped.

The office block is still there as well as the old gatehouse building and so are meny of the factory buildings.

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