History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany

Five Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany Today

The History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany: The treadwheel cranes were used by architects and engineers from the times of the Romans. Probably some stopped being used only at the beginning of the 20th century. This is a detail of those that still exist. Some are original and have a thousand years of antiquity. A few others were rebuilt. These are the five medieval treadmill cranes existing today in Germany. All are worth knowing and if possible visit them.

Crane  in the Port of Luneburg - Germany

The The History of the crane in the old port of Ilmenau in Lüneburg (4) was mentioned for the first time in documents in 1330. Considered in its time one of the most efficient cranes in northern Germany, it is 15 meters high and could hoist 9 tons.

Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Port of Luneburg
History of Medieval  Cranes (Treadwheel Cranes) in Germany - Port of Luneburg

The Medieval Treadwheel Crane was used mainly for the transport of salt and salting herring from department stores. Also firewood and merchandise. The crane was used until 1860 and the current state is operable but not used.

The plant of the crane house is circular and has a diameter of eight meters and the lifting arm is nine meters. The power plant consists of two wheels of 5 meters in diameter. Four blocks of sandstone were used as counterweight to the load

 

Anecdotes of the treadwheel crane

In 1840, the Treadwheel crane lifted its heaviest load on land: a steam locomotive for the Ducal Braunschweig State Railway. The locomotive was manufactured by George Forrester & Company (11) in England and transported by water to Germany. The weight of the locomotive was estimated around 9 tons. To operate the wheel crane, 38 men were needed at that time. 

 

Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Luneburg
Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Luneburg

As a load test, before the locomotive, a package with 80 railway tracks weighing about 9.2 tons (20,300 pounds) was made. The crane was rebuilt in the summer of 1797 by Master Carpenter GP Hintze as it appears on the plate.

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Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Luneburg
Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Luneburg

With the construction of the Hamburg-Hannover railway line (12), which arrived in Lüneburg in 1847, the transport of goods to and from Lüneburg went quickly from the waterway to the railways. As a result, the port and, therefore, also the crane quickly lost importance. In 1860, the treadwheel crane stopped working for economic reasons. 


Ostricher - Germany

The construction and operation of a treadwheel crane in Germany, was until the nineteenth century absolutely, an archbishop's privilege in this area. Only a few cities in Rheingau and in other German areas had the right to operate a loading device.

We will cite Cologne, Trier, Würzburg, Andernach, Bingen am Rhein, Stade and Hamburg, as cities, without doubt privileged. In the Rheingau region in the 15th century, only Eltville, Rüdesheim and Lorch obtained this privilege.

The  history of crane in Oestricher is located on the right bank of the Rhine River, at kilometer 518.1, near Federal Highway 42. All treadwheelcranes from Rheingau and elsewhere, such as Trier and Andernach, were initially floating wooden cranes. These cranes were generally very prone to deterioration due to constant exposure to water and ice in winter.

 

Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Ostricher
Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Port of Ostricher

This port treadwheel crane was begun to be built in 1744 (10). The boom of the crane is 12 meters. It has a conical roof to protect the crane. The conical roof with the ball and the tip of the roof is firmly connected to the upper end of a central column of vertical crane. Inside the crane house, there is a double wheel. The operation was in charge of two people per side.

The operating staff was well paid and affiliated with a guild called Aufläder. The load capacity of the wheel crane was approximately 2.5 tons. The crane today is functional.

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Trier - Germany

Alte Krahnen, also called Trierer Alter Moselkran, is a harbor treadwheel crane located in Trier. The stone building dates from 1413 and is located on the right side of the Moselle River.

The design is a tower-type wheel crane, with two wheels that are 4.16 meters in diameter.

History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Trier
History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - port of Trier

A double boom drives the crane. Initially it was equipped with a single feather, and since 1778 with a second feather as a counterweight. It has a rotating conical roof on a vertical axis of wood called Kaiserbaum 12 meters long. The conical roof is 360 ° rotating with two balancing arms and single pulley chain. 

History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Trier
History of Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Trier

It has in iron spikes and chain of drum with chain and simple pulley. Its estimated load capacity is two tons. It has similarities with another crane of the same name "Alte Krahnen" in Andernach (10), also built in stone in Gothic style, although this crane is 100 years older. The oak gear of the crane house (Kranhaus) dates back to 1763. The treadwheel crane was damaged (although it was not destroyed) in 1944 by the war and in 1984 it was restored.

 

Andernach - Germany

The treadwheel crane was built between 1554 and 1561, was used until 1911 and is located at kilometer 613.8 of the Rín River. The crane house measures 10.70 meters outside diameter and 8.70 meters inside diameter. The walls are made of stone and have a thickness of 2 meters.

 

Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Trier- Andernach alter-krahnen
Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany - Trier- Andernach alter-krahnen

The Andernacher Krahnen was the largest loading device among approximately 80 cranes in 32 locations in the inland waters of Germany and served for 350 years until 1911. At present it can only be seen from the outside. You can not visit.

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History of The Crane

The history of cranes begins in Greece and ancient Rome. The ancient Romans created a wheel crane that was used until after the Middle Ages

The medieval treadwheel crane consists of two wheels of oak wood 4.2 meters in diameter and 1.2 meters wide. The boom, which extends from the upper half of the pillar of the crane through the rotating roof, is formed by two heavy oak beams with support struts coated with lead sheet. It should be noted that the lifting capacity of the crane was estimated at 3.2 tons. The central drive shaft that joins the two wheels is 0.6 meters in diameter. On that axis a chain was wound (originally Rope).

The usual load to hoist were millstones and wine barrels. The roof is rotating, conical and covered in slate. As a novelty to the house of the treadwheel crane is also added a pyramid-shaped basalt icebreaker. This icebreaker stretched up to the height of the window to protect against drift from the ice.

The load and lift pen is made of a solid oak trunk, 0.64 meters in diameter and 10 meters high. It is also called "Kaiserbaum" or "support tree". Like the wheel crane of Gdańsk, this means of hoisting belongs to the category of cranes, which due to its height was also suitable for the installation of ship masts.


Tower of Daniel. Nördlingen - Germany

It is visible from a distance and it is the tower of the church of San Jorge, It is 90 meters high, it is called Daniel and it is considered the landmark of Nördlingen (it is called Daniel by a passage of the Bible, Dan 2-48 ". And the king exalted Daniel and made him ruler [...] of all Babylon.")

 

Tower of Daniel. Nördlingen - Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany
Tower of Daniel. Nördlingen - Medieval Treadwheel Cranes in Germany

In the level 35.60 meters there is a treadwheel crane that was used for the construction of the tower. Apparently the operators of the crane were all prisoners.

The council of the city of Nördlingen decided to build the church of St. George on October 17, 1427. The choir of the church's hall was completed in 1451, and in 1454 the construction of the tower began. The high altar of Friedrich Herlin was completed in 1462, the tower in 1490. With the completion of the vault in 1505, construction was completed.

As a result, Nördlingen joined the Reformation under the Church of St. George became a Protestant church in 1523. The first restoration of the church took place between 1877 and 1887. In March 1945 a bomb destroyed the clock. More recently, the church and the tower were restored between the years 1971-1977.

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 References and Bibliography

      1. Friends of Beverley Minster
      2. Legende van de Maneblussers
      3. National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk 
      4. Alter Kran (Lüneburg)
      5. Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel - Cage à écureuil
      6. Historic England Org.- The Harwich Treadwheel Crane
      7. Medieval Treadwheels: Artists' Views of Building Constructions -  The Johns Hopkins University Press
      8. Surrey Industrial Hiistory Group - Guilford
      9. Denkmalgesellschaft Bingen - Oestricher Kran
      10. The privatisation of the Brunswick State Railways in 1869-70
      11. George Forrester and Company
      12. Tower of Cathedral - Nördlingen 
      13. Ingenieria de Puertos en la Roma Clasica
      14. Medios de elevación de materiales en la construcción medieval
      15. Marco Vitruvio Polión
      16. De Architectura
      17. St. Georg (Nördlingen)

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Medieval Treadwheel Crane in Strasbourg’s Cathedral

Medieval Treadwheel Crane in Cathedral of Strasbourg

We visited the Cathedral of Strasbourg 

The Cathedral of Strasbourg was the first cathedral of Germany (or Kingdom of Germania). Until the arrival of Louis XIV in 1681 and his minister of the war, the Marquess of Louvois that camped in the environs of Strasbourg and forced their submission to the French monarchy the 30 of September of 1681.

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths
Medieval Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths

The Cathedral was delivered by the same Luis XIV The head of the Catholic bishopric of Strasbourg, Egon de Furstenberg. Absent from the city for almost 150 years, that way ended the period as an independent city.

The Cathedral

Designed in Gothic style, it was built during the second half of the 13th century. Although originally planned as a Romanesque structure, in 1053 today there is only the crypt and the floor of that style. At the end of the main chapel, the decision was taken to construct the nave in the Gothic style (1250).

The walls were open with Gothic stained glass but the interior remained predominantly Romanesque. The main colonnades were Romanic style. And they also supported the arches. They were very separate. The proportions of the ship are 1: 2.5.

Cathedral of Strasbourg
Cathedral of Strasbourg

Medieval Treadwheel Crane - Cathedral Strasbourg 

It is accessed by the side of the Cathedral, to a door that leads to a spiral staircase stone, without breaks. At the end of it before accessing the terrace on the left side you can see the Medieval Treadwheel Crane.

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths
Medieval Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths

The same one that was used in the construction of the Cathedral. And it's still there. It was customary to leave the cranes in their original location after completion of the work, for maintenance or repair.

Medieval Treadwheel Crane Carpenters

The Medieval treadwheel crane Cathedral of Strasbourg is made of wood, manufactured by the carpenters. Like carvers, carpenters were a relatively privileged category of craftsmen. Considered for a long time the absolute masters of construction, its prestige began to decline as early as the 11th century with the generalization of stone vaults, which concealed from view its wooden structures.

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Since then, both guilds have fought, sometimes with violence, the primacy in the construction works. But they had to remain closely linked because they had no choice but to depend on one another.

The Carpenters Masters

The master carpenter directed all the works in wood, that were developed from the beginning to the end of the work. He was a very skilled technician, who could discuss with the architect the timber structures to be lifted, both permanent and temporary.

The rigging, ladders and scaffolding that would be used by masons, sculptors and glaziers to work at different heights, inside and outside the building were all made of wood.

AstronomicClock of Cathedral of Strasbourg
AstronomicClock of Medieval Cathedral of Strasbourg

They also built support machinery to lift stones and other materials. Wheel cranes, also called spinning "squirrels" and three-up raisers, are inside these machines.

The Navy Carpenters of The Crane

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg
Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg

The treadwheel crane was a piece that required a great technical skill. Perfect assemblies and combinations of forces show their relationship with naval carpentry. In regions with a strong maritime tradition, carpentry teachers shared the construction of cathedrals with work in the shipyards building ships. Both civilian and military.

The main application was the port cranes. Imitations can now be observed in different parts of Europe.

CONCLUSIONS

As can be seen in the photos this treadwheel crane is for two operators. While the word operators today is used to operate a mechanical crane, here is another thing. Two people, one on each side walk in synchronized form to lift a weight, to the control of a master of crane.

Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths
Medieval Treadwheel Crane in the Cathedral of strasbourg Walking paths

We have no idea of ​​the capacity of this particular crane, but it can be said that approximately would be for about 1500 to 3000 lb, taking into account the external diameter of the wheel. This would be about  4.5 yards. For those who visit the cathedral of Strasbourg, before accessing the terrace, you can appreciate this legacy artifact of other times.

Beverley Minster Medieval Treadwheel Crane

Ancient Treadwhee in Beverley Minster – England The cranes of wheel (or Treadwheel Cranes) were used by architects and engineers from the times of the Romans. Probably some stopped being used only at the beginning of the 20th century. This is a detail of those that still exist.  Some are original and have a thousand years of antiquity. A few others were rebuilt. All are worth knowing and if possible visit them. The Minster Beverley Minster is an English parish …

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Treadwheel Crane of Mont Saint Michel Cathedral

Treadwheel Crane of Mont Saint Michel Cathedral – France The original abbey church was built between 1030 and 1230 and several buildings were built. They were convent rooms, Host room, refectory, knights room and cloister. History of Mont Saint Michel During the Hundred Years War, Mont Saint Michel was the subject of siege and bloody battles between French and English. The last Benedictines left Mount St-Michel in 1791. The abbey became a prison in 1793 to imprison more than 300 …

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Arde Lucus 2020 – Roman Festival in Spain

Ancient Rome Festival in Spain: Arde Lucus 2020: 

On June 25 to June 28, 2020

Arde Lucus is a festival celebrated in Lugo – Spain. That is celebrated between the end of May and the month of June. Relive the life of the Roman Empire in the old Spanish city of Lugo. This service started in
2001 and fu to commemorate the founding of the city.

Ancien Roman troops Arde Lucus 2020
Ancien Roman troops Arde Lucus 2020

In the year 2017 it has been declared a National Tourist Interest Festival by the Spanish State and in its last two editions more than one million participants were reached, of which a third were foreigners

Lucus Augusti

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