The Victorian Society, a charitable organisation which supports the maintenance of Victorian and Edwardian buildings in England and Wales, is working to secure the future of the hammerhead crane in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Constructed in 1912 by Babcock and Wilcox, the cantilever crane is now registered as a Grade II* listed site by the National Heritage. The 80t crane was installed for shipbuilder J S White to increase its capacity for the production of naval warships — which included the HMS Cavalier, currently preserved at Chatham Dockyard.

Now, more than 100 years after it was constructed, the crane became the subject of an urgent works notice issued by the Isle of Wight Council, after it was found to be structurally unsound.

It appears that the repairs will not be made by the owners of the crane, however, as the ownership currently remains unproven.

The Isle of Wight Council originally issued the listed building works notice to the Harrison Trust, the owner of the Medina Yard site where the hammerhead crane is situated.

But when the Trust purchased the site, the Victorian Society explains, it specifically excluded the crane, described as "a temporary fixture owned by a previous occupier".

The project team at the Victorian Society, meanwhile, commissioned a survey which found the crane’s structure and general condition to be sound, but is nevertheless in discussions with the Isle of Wight Council about the best way of securing an appropriate level of protective works.

One option could be the English Heritage, which according to the Cowes Hammerhead Crane Trust has offered to underwrite costs of up to £90,000 to address the most rapidly-deteriorating parts of the crane. This, however, would require the Council to contribute 20% of the cost which, due to financial constraints, the Council is currently unwilling to do.

The fate of the crane may lie in the hands of fans of the historical attraction, to whom the Cowes Hammerhead Crane Trust is appealing for donations to help raise to required £18,000.

Founded in 2006, the Trust describes the crane as "an iconic tribute to England’s early industrial design engineering and as a symbol of the importance of Cowes’, the Isle of Wight’s, and England’s engineering and shipbuilding heritage."