Manchester is one of the fastest developing parts of Britain, with the past few years seeing an unprecedented number of construction projects in the city. BBC2 viewers recently got a glimpse of the work taking place in the city in the programme Manctopia: Billion Pound Property Boom.
Filmed over 12 months, primarily within a one-mile radius of the city centre, the show detailed new residential developments while also examining what this means for members of the local community.
In a city that has changed a lot over the past decade, the one constant has been the regular smattering of cranes on the city’s skyline. Deloitte hailed 2018 as a record-breaking year with more than 14,000 residential units under construction and 44 new schemes started.
During this period, Ainscough Crane Hire has been at the centre of a changing Manchester. As Bob Beardmore, Heavy Cranes technical Manager, explains, working in a city centre can have its challenges.
“Manchester is like most city centres – it’s very restricted by space, and the buildings are higher, so we require a variety of cranes and complex configurations. With regards to crane loadings, the restrictions of city centres mean that bigger mats must be used.
“It’s also the case that road closures are regularly required, and you need to work closely with the council to ensure other traffic problems are managed. As an example, if we’re lifting over a building it’s necessary to close pavement access and divert pedestrians. Traffic lights, overhead cables and lampposts may also need to be temporarily removed.”
Bob estimates that Ainscough has worked on up to 75% of tower crane jobs in Manchester over recent years as a result of regularly delivering lifts for clients including Select Plant Hire and HTC Wolffkrann.
“Our role is all about planning, spotting potential hazards and designing methods of solving problems,” says Bob. “Constrained sites with awkwardly placed street furniture and delicate underground utilities are the norm for us.”
Last year, Ainscough worked with HTC Wolffkran on Property Alliance Group’s 28-storey Axis Tower, one of Manchester’s most exciting new buildings.
“Our work on Axis Tower was a classic Manchester job in many ways. As the ground where the lift was taking place was not level, extra mats were used to secure the area upon which the crane sat. Other difficulties included the proximity of the busy Deansgate and Oxford Road train stations and the operation taking place above gas mains. Also added into the mix was the traditional Manchester weather of horrendous wind and rain – this meant numerous delays, but once the operation was able to commence it was completed safely and securely. A 500t crane with a 42m fixed fly was used to disassemble the tower crane, which was approximately 100m in height.”
While building activity in the city centre has slightly reduced from its 2018 peak, Ainscough remain as busy as ever. Bob and his colleagues recently worked on Bowmer and Kirkland’s project building Unite Group’s 32 floor, 603-bed student accommodation building, The next challenge is a 100m high Tower Crane for Wolffkran at Manchester’s Victoria Station where the team are looking to supply a 500te with a 57.7m main boom and 63.0m luffing fly jib, with spacer. Here, they’ll be working within 30 metres of the live station, requiring a stringent safety plan and numerous checks before work can even begin.
“As a business, we’re very proud to have played our role supporting great companies in creating bold and inspiring buildings in Manchester and the surrounding areas, as seen on Manctopia,” says Bob. “Our work here is just a snapshot of our city-centre work across the whole country, and we look forward to continuing to help our clients on some even more ambitious projects in the years ahead.”