The tallest crane in British history has been put in place at the building site of the Shard, near London Bridge.
Builders are preparing to construct the spire of the what will become the highest building in western Europe when it is finished next year.
The crane will be some 317 metres, or 1,040ft, tall when it is fully extended, some seven metres taller than the top of the south London skyscraper.
The European Union’s current tallest building is One Canada Square in Canary Wharf, which stands at a height of 225 metres, or 773ft. It has held the record since it was completed in 1991, but it will be surpassed by the Shard which is being developed by Sellar Property Group.
The company’s chairman, Irvine Sellar, said: “This is another unique milestone in the development of this global iconic landmark building.
“The Shard is already making a positive impact on London’s skyline and the spire will complement the design of the building and complete a truly stunning piece of architecture.”
The crane will allow builders to construct the top 23 floors of the the Shard, which currently stands at 244 metres. The machine is expected to perform approximately 100 lifts and raise 500 tonnes of steel in the process from its platform outside the building at floor 55.
Around 800 separate pieces of steel will make up the building’s spire, although some sections have been put together off-site and moved to the Shard. The first of the steel sections was lifted up the side of the building on Sunday.
London-based firm Mace is the main contractor on the site. Its chief operating officer Gareth Lewis said: “The height of the Shard and the space constraints of the central London site require innovation throughout the build process.
“Pre-assembly of sections of the spire will reduce the amount of work at height, making the installation as safe and efficient as possible and providing greater certainty prior to lifting that the correct fit will be achieved,” he said.
“This is another example of how we are using the very best thinking and technology to deliver an exceptional building to time and budget.”
Offices will occupy the lowest floors of the Shard when it is completed, while a hotel, a viewing gallery and apartments will be located higher up in the building.