IT was the operation that had challenged experts for almost a week. How exactly do you lift a 40-tonne crane from a ditch along a narrow country lane?

Now that question was finally answered – you build a platform of compacted hardcore over the road and bring in two larger cranes.

The crane, owned by Bristol-based firm King Lifting Ltd, toppled and fell into the ditch along Woodeaton Road after the verge collapsed last Monday.

Since then a temporary platform has been built over the road and into an adjacent field to allow two cranes to be brought in to remove the fallen vehicle.

As the toppled crane was three quarters on its side, two cranes were needed to counter any sudden weight shifts and maintain a steady lift.

The lifting operation began on Monday and carried on until 3.20am yesterday. Group operations manager Martin New said: “King Lifting would like to thank all the emergency service crews that attended the scene and Oxfordshire County Council , the Environment Agency, the land owners and the general public for their patience so that we were able to prepare and complete the recovery in the safest manner.”

The Environment Agency had been concerned about oil leaking from the vehicle into the water course and had installed 15 sets of booms downstream of the crane last week, but in the end the crane was lifted without a rupture.