What to do with our industrial heritage?
TOWERING above the Arsenale in Venice lies a spectacular piece of British engineering that is slowly rusting away for want of funds to save it. The Armstrong Mitchell hydraulic crane is the world’s last surviving example of nine leviathans that were produced for naval dockyards around the world, of which four were installed in Italy.
After Italian unification in 1861, the new national government commissioned a fleet of warships using the latest technology of iron hulls and coal-fired steam engines. This necessitated the modernisation of the country’s shipyards and docks, not least in the Arsenale, the epicentre of Venetian maritime power since the 12th century. To service the new generation of