Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


Crane was fully erected before fatal Bow collapse

10 July 2020

A 20m tower crane that collapsed on a construction site in London’s Bow, killing one person and injuring four, was a “tried and tested” machine that had already been fully erected, according to its supplier.

Two of the injured are Wolffkran employees. Both were taken to hospital. One is in a serious condition, while the other was due to be released yesterday.

Wolffkran Ltd, the Sheffield-based UK subsidiary of the German manufacturer of the same name, said the Wolff 355B luffing jib crane of the type that collapsed has been “reliable in operation worldwide” and is currently in use across 18 UK sites.

The crane that collapsed was 10 years old and had been fully erected the day before the incident, the company confirmed. Some news reports had previously claimed that it was still being erected.

In a statement, Wolffkran said: “The Wolffkran management and staff are deeply upset by this tragedy and express their deepest sympathy to the family of the woman that died in the incident. Our thoughts are with all those affected, our own staff, and their families. We also thank the rescue teams for their work on site. Employees of Wolffkran Ltd have been on site since yesterday supporting the responsible authorities in their investigations and preparations to remove the crane from the site.”

The Metropolitan Police and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are now investigating the incident, in which 85-year-old June Harvey, a resident in one of the homes hit by the crane, was killed.

The accident happened on the Watts Grove housing development, where Nu Living, the modular housing arm of Swan Housing Association has been constructing new apartments. In a joint statement, Swan chair Valerie Owen and chief executive John Synnuk said: “As chair and chief executive of Swan Housing Association, we are deeply saddened by the tragic incident which occurred at our Watts Grove construction site. 

“We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family who have lost their loved one as a result of the incident.  Your loss is a personal tragedy.  We recognise that whilst understanding how this happened will not ease your pain, we would like to reassure you on behalf of our organisation that we will fully support the Health and Safety Executive and the authorities in their investigation so that you can receive a full, transparent answer to how this incident took place.

“Our thoughts are also with those who were injured and their families. We wish them a speedy recovery.  We are also thinking of the wider local community who have had to leave their homes as a safety precaution.   Our staff are on standby to help the Borough and Local Housing providers ensure that you are supported through this difficult time.

“We would like to thank the emergency services for their swift and dedicated response and those who are supporting residents affected. We have never experienced a situation like this before and it is something that no organisation ever wishes to happen. We therefore stand ready to respond fully to support the investigation to understand what has occurred to cause this incident.” 


Was the crane left in “luffing” mode overnight? There is a tendency for this type of crane to come to a full stop if left to swing and the stop mechanism clicks in unexpectedly!! Tragic whatever to blame.

Stewart Craven, 13 July 2020