The Manchester “Club” Trains

A Famous Train of the LMS

Such are the modest dimensions of these islands on which we live that most of our biggest cities are within tolerably easy reach of the sea. The result is that very many commercial people took advantage of this accessibility by carrying on their business in their respective cities, but living at the seaside. This is a habit that the railway companies, not unnaturally, liked to encourage, for it meant a considerably longer journey, and therefore a proportionately higher season ticket rate, than if the same people were run merely to and from the city suburbs.

The business Mancunian had a fine stretch of coast from which to choose. His favourite seaside places of residence were Blackpool, with its outlying suburbs of Lytham and St. Anne’s, and Southport. Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno also claim their share of this daily city-coast traffic, and even Morecambe and the lakeside resort of Windermere are not too distant. The whole of this traffic was dealt with at the two adjacent stations of Victoria, once the headquarters of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and of the Western “B” Division of the LMS system, and Exchange, the one-time property of the late London and North Western Railway. Work connected the two terminals directly together, and when finished one of the remarkable features of the joint station was a continuous platform of the enormous length of 2,196 ft. Woe betide the unfortunate seaside resident who arrived at the station at the last minute to find his coast-bound train at the opposite end of this platform from the one he expected!

Of the two stations, Victoria was considerably the larger. Its accommodation was greatly increased early in the present century, when a new terminal portion, with 10 platforms, was added on the south side for the use of the trains to and from the Oldham, Stalybridge and Bury directions. There were then 17 platforms, of which 11 were terminal, and 6 were through from one end of the station to the other. A singular feature of the working was the manner in which trains to and from the east end of Exchange Station pass through the centre of Victoria, between Nos. 11 and 12 platforms, over relief tracks not provided with platforms; the same lines were used by freight trains that require to pass through Victoria.
An ingenious part of the equipment at Victoria was the overhead luggage carrier, which ran right across the station just under the roof. It was electrically worked, and the operator, who had a precarious perch below the carrier, was able, by suitable hoisting tackle, to lower his capacious luggage basket on any platform and, when it had been filled, to lift it and whisk it away to any part of the station required, without delay and with a minimum of effort.
Exchange station was on a much smaller scale and had only five platforms. It was No. 3 at Exchange, coupled with No. 11 at Victoria, that made the 2,196 ft platform, but by means of suitable crossovers it will was able to accommodate two or three trains simultaneously. So the two stations had between them 22 platforms, and when united made one of the largest stations in the country, though from the point of view of compactness the combination could hardly bear comparison with, say, Waterloo terminus in London.
Shortly after four o’clock in the afternoon businessmen would go into Exchange Station, for the departure of the first of the “club” trains.

What was a “club” train?.
A considerable number of years ago certain Blackpool residents formed a kind of travelling club, and requested the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway authorities to
provide them with a saloon coach in which they might travel together in a comfortably “clubbable” fashion. The railway people fell in with the idea, and the “club” saloon was duly included in the formation of the chosen Manchester-bound express in the morning, and a down evening express leaving shortly after 5 p.m.
Since then on all the chief residential expresses between Manchester and Blackpool and Manchester and Southport very fine open corridor coaches had come into use, and the trains were made up thus from end to end. The club members were assured of privacy for their journey. The same idea had been taken up by residents at Llandudno and at Windermere, to both of which popular resorts club saloons were run.

The actual “club” trains were the 4.30 p.m. from Exchange to Llandudno, the 5.5 p.m. from Exchange to Windermere, and the 5.10 p.m. from Victoria to Blackpool; but the 5 p.m. from Victoria to Southport and the 4.55 and 5.2 p.m. from the same station to Blackpool also had sufficient of a “club” character to be included. The collection of coast- bound expresses leaving Victoria in this 15 minutes was indeed remarkable, and still more so was the character of the passengers, as from two-thirds to four-fifths of the coaches provided on each of these trains were first-class.
The first of these expresses to be away was the 4.30 p.m. from Exchange to the North Wales coast. At one time it was timed at a rather higher speed than it became, as only 48 minutes were allowed for the 40 miles between Manchester and Chester and 34 minutes for the 30 miles on to Rhyl, which, with a four-minute halt at Chester, meant 86 minutes from Manchester to Rhyl. Eventually, with no stop at Chester and a one-minute-halt at Prestatyn instead, the same journey needed 90 minutes. In earlier days the departure time was 4.55 p.m, but it became 25 minutes earlier, and an additional express left at 4.40 p.m. for the same direction, making calls at Warrington and Chester.
For the working of the train, which consisted of 10 up-to-date bogie vehicles, amply provided with lavatory accommodation but non-corridor, the engine attached was originally one of the handy North Western “Prince of Wales” type 4-6-0’s. Despite their moderate weight of 66 tons, apart from tender, the “Princes” had shown themselves capable of a great variety of passenger work, even up to and including fast and heavy passenger expresses, and their scope was best illustrated by the nickname “Maid-of-all-Work”. With a load of 300 tons like this, over what was throughout an easy road, the “Prince” experienced no difficulties. Three “Claughtons” had been transferred to Llandudno Junction for the purpose of working the train. At 5.52 p.m. Prestatyn was reached, having covered the 66½ miles from Exchange in 82 minutes. Over the rest of the journey stops were made at Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction, and by 6.43 p.m. the Llandudno “club” train is at rest in Llandudno, 87¾ miles from Manchester.
Well before this time the Blackpool and Southport “club ” trains had finished their shorter journeys. Of these the 4.55 p.m. was usually the lightest, eight corridor coaches, two of which were destined for Fleetwood, sufficing for the greater part of the year. The engine usually was to be one of the fine Horwich-built four-cylinder 4-6-0’s of “Class 8”, many of which worked on these coast services. For an engine of such power, a train of some 215 tare tons – with passengers not more than 230 tons or so – is but a featherweight, despite the difficult character of the journey. By comparison with the journey just mentioned, this one includes a number of very heavy gradients, as well as severe speed restrictions at various points.
Over the extraordinarily sinuous section of line from Manchester through Salford to the “Windsor Bridge No. 3” Junction at Pendleton speed was gained, in preparation for the stiff climb past the station bearing the singular name of “Irlams-o’-th’-Height”, up to Pendlebury. This was for two miles at 1 in 99, and would bring down the speed to about 30 or 35 m.p.h. After this there followed some sharp undulations, notably a steeply-graded dip on to the troughs at Walkden, and 2 miles of falling grades also to Atherton, at between 1 in 232 and 106; but of these, owing to constant trouble with subsidences caused by colliery workings underneath, the driver was unable to take full advantage. Then came a bad slack for the junction at Dobb’s Brow, where the train left the Liverpool line and turned northward. This first 12 miles occupied 19 minutes.
It then ran over a short spur line that carried it across to the Preston line proper, from which it diverged at Pendleton. It was presumably to ease the congestion of the latter route, which had but two tracks, that the majority of the Blackpool expresses were booked to take the much harder four-track route through Atherton. The Hilton House spur, which was tremendously steep, rising for 1½ miles at between 1 in 51 and 74, and for another three-quarter mile at 1 in 204, avoided Bolton, and brought you back to the Preston line at Blackrod, whence it ran on through Chorley to a junction with the West Coast main line at Euxton, After slackening severely here, to 25 m.p.h, a few more miles of downhill running prepare it for the even worse slowing through Preston, which was passed at 20 m.p.h. in 44 minutes from leaving Victoria, 29¾ miles distant. After the steep pull out of Preston the difficulties of the engine are at an end, as there is little in the way of grades from there on to Blackpool. After eight miles of four-track line, over which a further set of track-troughs, near Salwick, enables the engine to pick up an additional supply of water, it approached Kirkham Junction at high speed.
From here three routes are available to Blackpool, and it is interesting to note that all three were used in succession by the 4.55, 5.02 and 5.10 p.m. trains. Curving to the right, taking the northernmost, to the Talbot Road Station, on the north side of Blackpool. The 5.02 will take the central route, direct to Waterloo Road and from there into the Central Station. This is both the shortest in distance and the most recent in construction, but as it serves Blackpool only, and none of the outlying towns, its use (with the this 5.02 p.m. express) is confined to special and excursion trains. Then comes the 5.10 p.m, which follows the southernmost route into Blackpool, curving round in a great loop to reach Lytham, Ansdell and St. Anne’s on the way to Waterloo Road and Central Station.
For the 14½& miles from Preston to Poulton the 4.55 p.m. express was allowed 17 min, and its first stop, 44¼ miles from Manchester, 61 minutes after starting. Here the two through coaches for Fleetwood are detached from the rear, and with six coaches left it passed on to Bispham, where a brief stop was made, and Talbot Road, arriving at 6.6 p.m. It covered a total distance of 47¼ miles, and the comparative slowness of the running must be put down to the difficulties of the route.
Between the 4.55 and 5.2 Blackpool expresses there comes the 5 p.m. Southport express. This was a considerably heavier train, the winter formation amounting to 11 open corridor coaches, often expanded in summer to 12 or 13. This also was usually a “Class 8” 4-6-0 turn, it was reported that Train Spotters were greatly astonished to see the train go out of Victoria on one day with a Midland 4-4-0 compound in charge. Over such gradients as those between Manchester and Wigan, this 300-ton train was a tremendous load for a compound, and it makes you wonder how the engine fared on Pendlebury bank.
The Southport express followed close on the wheels of the 4.55 to Blackpool, passing Dobb’s Brow Junction five minutes later, at 5.19 p.m; but no reduction of speed was needed here, as the Southport train took the straight line on to Hindley, where it diverged from the Liverpool line to the left to get through Wigan. The passage through Wigan, which was approached by extremely sharp curves, must not be made at more than 30 m.p.h. and, with such a load as this, 27 minutes from Manchester proved to be none too great an allowance for the distance of only 16¼ miles. Rising grades follow to Gathurst, but after that all is plain sailing, and there is a fine straight stretch across the level marches of West Lancashire slightly in favour of the engine, which enables a speed of over 60 an hour to be maintained for some miles, especially if any time has been lost on the congested and difficult earlier stages of the run. St. Luke’s, 32½ miles from Manchester, is reached in 47 minutes, and the main station at Chapel Street, ¾-mile further, at 5.51 p.m.
Following the fortunes of the 5.2 and 5.10 p.m. Blackpool trains. The former had an eight-coach formation of the very latest LMS open corridor stock, and was generally hauled by a 4-4-0 Midland compound. To save clashing with the Southport train, it was taken over the right hand, or “fast” lines from Victoria to Windsor Bridge No. 3 Junction, and from there over the old main line to Preston via Bolton. This was a mile further than the Atherton route, but the gradients are much easier, the average of the rise from Pendleton to Bolton being about 1 in 200. The chief obstacle was the long and severe slowing through Bolton, to 20 m.p.h. The timing is very easy, however, 20 minutes being allowed to clear Bolton, 10¾ miles; 47 minutes to Preston, 30¾ miles; 71 minutes to the stop at Waterloo Road and 76 minutes to Blackpool Central.
The 5.10 p.m. – the real Blackpool “club” train – was another of heavy formation, being generally made up to 10 corridor cars and the club saloon, but expanding to 13 vehicles in the summer season. This is an almost invariable “Class 8” 4-6-0 turn of duty. Following the Southport express to Dobb’s Brow Junction, which was passed at 5.30 p.m, the 5.10 carries on over the very steep Hilton House spur, pursuing the same route as the 4.55 p.m. coast bound train to Blackrod, Chorley, Preston and Kirkham. Preston was passed at 5.57 p.m, Kirkham at 6.9 p.m; and the first stop was made at Lytham, 43½ miles from Victoria, at 6.17 p.m. Like all the Blackpool and Southport trains, this express had been decelerated from its earlier running times. At one period Lytham was reached in the even hour from Manchester, but the much heavier corridor rolling stock then in use, with its more limited seating accommodation in proportion to weight, was doubtless in part responsible. After making stops at Ansdell, St. Anne’s and Waterloo Road, the “club” train rolled into Blackpool Central at 6.40 p.m, exactly 90 minutes after starting, having covered a total distance of 51 miles.
There is one “club” train left to mention – the Windermere express leaving Exchange at 5.5 p.m. This express completed one of four leaving Exchange and Victoria in the 10 minutes between 4.55 and 5.5 p.m, all running to or through Preston and each one getting there by a different route. The 4.55 p.m. out of Victoria went by Atherton, as we have seen, and the 5.2 by Bolton; the 5 p.m. Glasgow express out of Exchange took the longest route – 33 miles – through Eccles,
Tyldesley and Wigan (North Western), where it was combined with the second part of the 1.30 p.m. “ Mid-day Scot” out of Euston; while the 5.5 p.m. to Windermere, in order to get in front of the Glasgow train, took the “Lancashire Union” line from Bickershaw to Standish, over a route which was one of the only two passenger trains in the day to patronise, through Whelley. Another most singular fact is that this last route involves the use of over half-a-mile of London and North Eastern metals, between Strangeways East and Amberswood East junctions. How many travellers of the time knew that it was possible to travel over the LNER on the way from Manchester to Windermere…
The Windermere train provided a very easy locomotive working. It was usually entrusted to a Midland compound, but occasionally to a 4-6-0 “Prince”. Four non-corridor coaches made up the formation, with the “club” saloon on the rear. The route followed was slack-infested and very heavily graded throughout to Preston, the worst pitch being at 1 in 67 up near Whelley. The 32½ miles to Preston required an allowance of 55 minutes, the Windermere train arriving just two minutes after the 5.10 p.m. Blackpool “club” train had passed through. At Preston, through Liverpool coaches were added, and after a halt of five minutes, a level run followrd over the 21 miles to Lancaster, allowed 26 minutes. A brief sight of the sea was obtained at Hest Bank, and then the Windermere “club” train carried on through the important junctions of Carnforth and Oxenholme without stopping, making Kendal, 21¼ miles from Lancaster, half-an-hour later. It was just 2¼ hours after leaving Manchester Exchange that the train puts in an appearance at Windermere, having travelled 83 miles. In the opposite direction it made a faster trip, cutting off the odd quarter, and completing its journey from Windermere to Manchester in two hours.

One point that cannot fail to be noted in connection with the trains whose working is described in this article is the amazing complexity of the London, Midland and Scottish system in Lancashire. We have just seen how four expresses left two adjacent Manchester stations for Preston within 10 minutes of each other, each one following a different course. The 5 p.m. Southport express and the 5 o’clock from Exchange to Glasgow, again, often run for considerable distances in sight of one another on their journey to or through the two neighbouring stations at Wigan. It must be remembered, however, that this complexity arose partly from the fact that two systems once independent had now been amalgamated. As is the case in many other parts of the country, had the grouping of the railways taken place at an earlier date, it is probable that many such routes, built purely for competitive purposes, would never have come into being. The money thus spent could often have been put to far better use in the doubling and improvement of previously existing lines. But these unnecessarily ramified tracks, all of which had to be staffed and maintained, constituted not the least of the problems which our great railways had to face, in their struggle towards more economical working. Possibly the necessity for strict economy in railway working eventually meant some of the alternative routes were closed.

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The magazine Railway Wonders of the World, Published by the Amalgamated Press, Railway Wonders of the World appeared in 50 weekly instalments from 1st February 1935 through to 10th January 1936. A vast range of subjects was covered.
The complete work was designed to be bound in two hardback volumes which are still readily available. Others chose to retain the weekly parts with their attractive colour covers. Today the weekly parts are more difficult to obtain but do appear from time to time.

Article re-edited from Railway Wonders of the World.
http://www.railwaywondersoftheworld.com/

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The Fall and Rise of The Class 60

In 2017 the Class 60 locomotive had become the mainstay of haulage on the bitumen tankers in and out of Preston Dock.

The Class 60 arose from the arrival, and subsequent success, of the Class 59 locomotive. With a haulage capacity and reliability superior to the Class 31, 37 and 47 locomotives in sector service at the time, Trainload Petroleum, Metals, Construction and Coal were prompted to lobby for a new UK designed locomotive to match it. British Rail Board eventually secured the
necessary treasury funding and following a difficult procurement process, the contract was finally awarded to Brush Electrical Machines of Loughborough on May 17, 1988 for 100 locomotives.

Brush’s design incorporated many features from the Class 59’s specification, as well as their own Sepex traction control system, tested on the Class 58, to improve adhesion. The Class 60s were geared for a maximum speed of 62 mph, the power units being eight cylinder, 145 litre Blackstone 8MB275T diesel traction engines built by Mirrlees at their Stockport works, delivering a maximum power output of 3,100hp at 1000rpm.

The bodyshell, shared with the Class 92 locomotives, was of a monocoque, stressed skin construction with diagonal trusses, the external bodywork providing support for the internal components and all were built by Procor (UK) of Wakefield.
The first locomotive was handed over to Railfreight on time, in June 1989, but extensive teething problems (many involving computer software), meant that it took sixteen months before the first of the Class were accepted and nearly four years to introduce all 100 of the Class 60 locomotives to service. By the time the Class 60 fleet entered service, Trainload’s Sector businesses had given way to “shadow” privatisation and the formation, in 1994, of Loadhaul, Transrail and Mainline Freight with the Class 60 fleet split equally between them. English, Welsh and Scottish Railway bought the whole Class 60 fleet as part of British Railway’s privatisation, reallocating the entire Class 60 fleet to Toton as a cost cutting measure and to pool common parts. By 2003/4, a number of locomotives were stored as surplus to operational requirements.
In 2007 EWS became part of DB Schenker and at the end of October 2010, the entire Class 60 fleet was mothballed, with the exception of 60040 The Territorial Army Centenary and 60074 Teenage Cancer Trust. By the end of 2011, two more locomotives were returned to service, followed by an announcement that twenty one further Class 60s were to be overhauled in 2012, this being completed by the end of 2013. In June 2014, Colas Rail purchased ten locomotives and by February 2016 there were twenty four
operational locomotives.

Many of Colas Class 60’s have become regulars on the Preston Dock working of Bitumen Tankers from Lindsey Oil Refinery. One in particular is 60087.

The first Class 60 to appear in the Colas yellow and orange livery was 60087. Built at Brush Traction in December 2003 with the works no.989, locomotive 60087 was named as ‘Slioch’ to December 2003, before then being renamed ‘Barry Needham’ from May 2004, the only Class 60 to have its original name transferred to another class member (locomotive 60069). At a ceremony at Long Marston in June 2014, 60087 was renamed once more, as ‘CLIC Sargent’ – Colas celebrated their 10th Birthday in September in 2017.


Colas Class 60’s  (2017)

002, 021, 026, 047, 056, 076, 085, 087, 095, 096

 Colas Rail is a rail freight company, formerly known as Seco Rail. In January 2008, Colas merged its Seco Rail operations with its other rail subsidiary AMEC-Spie, under the new operating name of Colas Rail, and also acquired the Plant division of Carillion Rail which was included in the new group.

In 2007, it took charge of the Kronospan timber flow from Carlisle to Chirk. This was previously in the hands of AMEC-Spie and subsequently became Colas’ first regular freight contract, run by hired-in locomotives. Also in 2007, it purchased three Class 47 diesel locomotives from EWS. All three were overhauled at Eastleigh Works and in

September 2007, commenced operating railhead treatment trains in South West England for Network Rail.

In late 2008, it commenced operating steel trains from Immingham to Washwood Heath with Class 56s hired from Hanson Traction. In 2009, it commenced a further steel flow from Burton upon Trent to Dollands Moor using its own Class 47s.

In late 2009, Colas leased four Class 66s (66841–66844) that had last been used by Advenza Freight. These were joined by 66845 that had last been used by Direct Rail Services. Following their owners concluding a deal to lease all five to GB Railfreight, it purchased five (66846–66850) that had previously been used by Freightliner. This coincided with Colas entering the UK coal haulage market. In 2012, Colas purchased four Class 56s. By January 2014, it had purchased 11. In 2012, 86701 was briefly operated on a trial service on the West Coast Main Line hauling former First Great Western Motorail wagons. In May 2012, Colas purchased the

Pullman Rail rolling stock maintenance business in Cardiff.

In April 2013, Colas formed a joint venture with the Go-Ahead Group to bid for the concession to operate the Docklands Light Railway but later withdrew. In November 2013, it placed an order for 10 Class 70s. At the same time it purchased four Class 37s.

In 2014, Colas purchased 10 Class 60s from DB Schenker with an option to purchase a further 10. In 2015, it commenced operating infrastructure trains for Network Rail. To operate these a further four Class 37s were  purchased. It also owns and operates a mixed fleet of on-track plant for maintenance operations.

 

Preston’s former public tramways

With the 2017 announcement of the start of trials for a new tramway for Preston, it may be of interest to look into Preston’s trams of times gone by.

Horse drawn tramways were in force in Preston from 1879 and were a very successful form of public transport in their time. The main drawbacks of using horses was the necessary feeding and watering of them and of course the stabling during non-working times. Also, not least, was the inevitable waste the horses left behind in the streets which, in that period would have been somewhat of a tremendous pollution, although one would imagine that gardeners would not have complained!

The main company for all the stabling for the duration of the horse drawn tramways was W. Harding & Co. Ltd. Livery Stables, originally located at the summit of Fishergate Hill, opposite the railway station. Harding’s subsequently moved to the former Post Office building on Fishergate in 1902 when their premises, along with two hotels were demolished to make way for the railway bridge extension.

In 1904 the horse drawn tram system had come to an end and was superseded by the electric overhead trolley system, the first car being run on 7 June 1904. The contractors for the work involved in the electrification of the tramways, including the cars, permanent way, overhead equipment and generating plant were Dick, Kerr and Co., of Preston. The power station on Holmrook Road, adjacent to the Deepdale Road Tram Depot, was erected by a Mr. T. B. Garnett and the chimney-stack was built by T. Croft and Sons.

At that time in 1904, Preston Corporation had 30 double deck cars and by 1912 four new single cars were added. The routes initially were to Sharoe Green Lane (via North Road), Sharoe Green Lane (via Deepdale Road, Farringdon Park, Ashton, Penwortham and Ribbleton.

Fatalities – Despite the relatively slow speeds involved, both systems claimed several victims during their years of operation:

On Saturday May 26th 1888 the Preston
Chronicle reported that a child aged 16 months was ran over and killed by the 5:45 horse drawn tram car from Preston. The accident occurred at the junction of Hull Street and Tulketh Road. The child was later identified as the daughter of Mr. Thomas Wilkinson Boot & Shoemaker of 25 Tulketh Road.

Another fatality took place on October 11th 1920. The Lancashire Daily post reported the following: “Shortly after four o’clock on Saturday after-noon, James Livingstone., aged 5 of 20 Shuttle-street, Preston, was knocked down by a tram-car in Ribbleton Lane. The driver noticed two small boys sitting on the kerb-stone near the corner of Shuttle-street, and one of them suddenly darted into the road, as if to pick something up. Although the car was pulled up within its own length by the electric brake, the child was pinned under the guard. The front of the car was jacked up, and the boy released in less than two minutes. A motor cyclist took him in a sidecar to the Infirmary where he succumbed to his injuries about 7:30 last evening”.

On 15 December 1935, the final tram to depart from Fulwood made its way to the town for the very last journey which signalled the end of the Preston tramways for good, or maybe not quite for good!

Lost Property

Rail company reveals strangest items left on trains – and some are totally bizarre…

Leaving a wallet, an umbrella or glasses behind on a train might be easy to understand, but a wooden casket with ashes inside, a framed picture of Mary Berry, a 6ft inflatable dinosaur or a hamster?

Some careless travellers have accidentally abandoned these on public transport over the last year. The annual audit of property that’s left behind has turned up some amusing and bizarre revelations, says First TransPennine Express (FTPE), opening the doors to a lost and found department that sounds like it’s heaving at the seams. Over the year, millions of customers have left behind more than 1,300 wallets and purses, 600 umbrellas, 120 bags of shopping, 70 pairs of glasses and 30 laptops.

But despite our mobile phone-obsessed world, it’s those handy little gadgets that we lose the most, with a massive 2,000 being found by staff.

As well as auditing all found items, the train operator also recorded customer enquiries into lost goods. It showed that although mobiles are lost the most, enquiries after them were low compared to umbrellas – which FTPE staff received more than 200 calls for. There were also thirty calls into lost lunches, two calls into lost dentures, three calls into lost pets – including a hamster, cat and lizard, luckily all of which staff found safe and sound – and even more peculiarly, a call regarding a lost wife.

For items whose owners don’t come forward after three months, the company will donate small items, like umbrellas and clothing, to local charity shops. Cameras, laptops and anything of higher value go into an internal auction and all proceeds go directly to a nominated charity. Last year alone, the company raised around £1,500 for charity through unclaimed items that would have otherwise remained in its lonely Lost and Found department.

Full list of items found – 2,000 mobile phones, 1,300 wallets and purses, 600 umbrellas, 529 keys, 237 lanyards, 120 bags of shopping, 73 soft toys 70 pairs of glasses, 70 lunchboxes, 62 dummies, 30 laptops, 21 bottles of perfume or aftershave, 13 prams, 8 hen sashes, 8 sets of false teeth, 7 child seats, 6 guitars, 3 mountain bikes, 1 bag of haggis, 1 6ft inflatable dinosaur, 1 hamster, 1 cat, 1 lizard, 1 framed photo of Mary Berry, 1 Barry Manilow CD, 1 bottle of champagne, 1 wooden casket.

 

The Gold Train

So there is a Nazi train hidden in a tunnel somewhere in southwest Poland. Or is there?
Ever since the end of the Second World War, the rumour of a train full of gold shunted away in a mountainside has floated around the countryside near the Lower Silesian town of Walbrzych. Like all good treasure stories, the Nazi Gold Train legend has a believable core and a fabulous prize, separated from each other by layer upon layer of conjecture and embellishment. And like most treasure stories, it remains totally unverified by factual proof.

The legend goes something like this.
It’s the spring of 1945, and the Red Army is chasing the Nazis out of Eastern Europe. The fortified city of Breslau (now the Polish city of Wroclaw) is the Germans’ last best hope of stopping the Soviet march to Berlin. But Festung Breslau is crumbling fast. A train laden with gold and treasure slips out before the Soviets have the city completely surrounded. It heads west, but disappears somewhere between Breslau and the Czech border. Here is the Eulengebirge (the Owl Mountains), in which thousands of slave labourers have been carving out a vast and mysterious complex of subterranean tunnels and command centres.
The Nazis called the excavation of these caverns Projekt Riese (“Project Giant”), and their ultimate function is still a matter of debate. Construction began in 1943, when Allied bombers started flattening German cities wholesale. Riese could have accommodated a nuke-proof HQ for Germany’s military and political leadership, as well as various manufacturing facilities. But no plans for the complex, consisting of a number of separate, and perhaps interconnected sites, are known to have survived. The project, slated for completion in the fall of 1945, was abandoned in the general collapse of Germany’s Eastern Front. To date, only 10 percent of the tunnel complex has been uncovered, which of course helped fuel legends of hidden treasure.

Seven decades of fruitless treasure hunts later, many thought this was just another Eldorado story – too good to be true. But a few weeks ago, two treasure hunters, a Pole and a German, defied the naysayers by filing a claim with the local council for a 10 percent finder’s fee for a 500-foot-long “armoured train carrying precious metals.” The legend is true! The train has been found! Or has it?
The essential ingredient of the very best treasure stories is the close-but-no-cigar twist. Ground radar scans have been released that seem to indicate the presence of a train-like object. But the exact location of the find, supposedly revealed in a deathbed confession, has not been made public, nor have excavations begun, out of concerns that the place might still be booby-trapped. Yet the evidence has convinced even Poland’s culture minister, who has now said he was “more than 99 percent certain that the train does exist.” As speculation on the whereabouts and contents of the Nazi train reaches fever pitch, some wonder whether it might contain the legendary Amber Room, stolen in 1941 by a German looting command from the Catherine Palace, south of Leningrad.

Whether and when the train will be revealed remains a mystery. Meanwhile, the Nazis have made another victim: a 39-year-old Polish treasure hunter fell to his death while looking for the subterranean chamber. The Nazi Gold Train story got another twist recently, when Polish explorer Krzysztof Szpakowski announced he had found two railway tunnels leading into a massive underground structure near Walbrzych, “the size of a large city,” which he identified as a previously undiscovered part of Projekt Riese.
Szpakowski based his find on evidence from first-hand witnesses and old documents, and by exploration with ground-penetrating radar and dowsers. He speculated that the tunnels, as yet unopened, could contain weapons and machinery — “but not a gold train.” The explorer’s press conference was hosted by the regional authorities in Walbrzych, who are now seeking state funds for the exploration.
Whether or not the train will actually be found, and be found to contain treasure, is still highly doubtful. While some treasure hunts occasionally turn up real treasure, the history of hunting for treasure is littered with false alarms, near misses, and dashed hopes.

Yet whatever the outcome, publicity around the train is sure to crank up the interest in hidden Nazi treasure, real or imagined. Just consider the sizeable overlap between conspiracy theorists, amateur historians, and anyone fascinated by the Nazis, and you have a huge cohort prepared to pore over obscure maps of the 1930s and ’40s, combing the countryside with their metal detectors for any signs of Nazi loot.
There must be plenty left to find. The estimates for works of art looted by the Nazis range from 100,000 to 200,000. Just two years ago, a cache of nearly 1,400 paintings was discovered in the Munich apartment of a man whose art dealer father had worked for the Nazis. Rural and out of the way of Allied bombers, the mountainous area around Walbrzych (before the war, the German town of Waldenburg) must have seemed ideal for hiding stuff. In fact, the Nazis established a depository for millions of valuable books stolen from various European libraries in Raciborz (in German: Ratibor), less than 100 miles southeast of Walbrzych.

The most famous case of (presumed) Nazi treasure must be Lake Toplitz (Toplitzsee), high in Austria’s Dead Mountains (Totes Gebirge). During the war, it served as a Nazi naval testing station, so there’s probable cause for conducting treasure search, and numerous ones have taken place since the war. However, the closest thing to treasure ever to surface from the lake were millions of counterfeit pound sterling notes, produced for Operation Bernhard, an aborted plan to destabilise the British economy. Some insist that some kind of treasure still lurks in the darkest, most inaccessible depths of the lake.
The Toplitzsee’s reputation as treasure hoard made it onto the silver screen: in Goldfinger, James Bond handles a gold bar retrieved from the lake. Similar tales are told of the nearby Grundlsee and Seetalsee, and of the Chiemsee, the largest lake in neighbouring Bavaria, but searches have equally come up with nothing.
One of the most popular locations for Nazi treasure hunts is Deutschneudorf, on the Saxon side of the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). It has been the presumed location of Adolf Hitler’s real grave, of the aforementioned Amber Room, and of large quantities of hidden gold and/or silver.

One of the more picturesque locations to hunt for Nazi treasure is the ruin of Castle Falkenstein — the highest castle in Germany. A steep, winding stone staircase is the only means to get to the top, where as yet no Nazi treasure has been found.
Close to Berlin, and even closer to Hermann Göring’s country retreat Carinhall, the Stolpsee is said by some to contain some of the valuables looted by Göring. Even the Stasi, the East German secret police, conducted searches for Nazi loot in the Stolpsee.
And then there is the Nazi treasure map, disguised as the score to a musical piece called the Marche impromptu. Dutch archaeologist Leon Giesen made the papers in 2013 by claiming the score to that song was actually a map to treasure buried in Mittenwald. Giesen believes that Hitler made Martin Bormann bury the gold and hide its location in the score. According to him, the music contains a diagram of train tracks that ran through Mittenwald in the 1940s, and the note Ende der Tanz (“end of the dance”) refers to the fact that the treasure is buried at the end of the railway’s buffer stops. But the area is in a military no-go zone, and the German defence ministry routinely refuses treasure seekers access.

Nazi treasure is not just presumed hidden in Germany. In Asaa, northern Denmark, the contents of three to five train cars are said to have been buried as early as the late summer of 1944. Again, plenty of treasure seekers, but no treasure.
Nor are rumours of Nazi gold limited to Europe. Some claim U-boats transported treasure to Argentina at the end of the war. If so, those involved did an excellent job hiding the stuff. Most high-ranking Nazis who fled to South America had to eke out their own living — Adolf Eichmann had a series of low-paying jobs before he landed a job at Mercedes-Benz Argentina. Josef Mengele worked as a carpenter and a printer, among other jobs.

More outlandish claims are of Nazi gold shipped off to a secret base in Antarctica — of course in the shape of an underground lair, the Nazi’s favourite type of fortification. But that takes us from the realm of treasure hunting to the even stranger kingdom of UFO spotting (see also #88).
Another treasure map. The Lue map seems to be a collection of Masonic and/or Templar symbols, arranged possibly to indicate the location of 14 tons of gold buried somewhere in the U.S. Did we say 14 tons of gold? It gets better: 14 tons of Nazi gold.

This legend goes something like this:
In 1930s America, the Gold Reserve Act forbade the private possession of gold. The Lue Map, then, points to a stash of gold large enough to destabilise the U.S. economy (a variation on Operation Bernhard). The gold was smuggled into the U.S. via U-boats and moved by spy rings operating throughout the country to a single location — where it has remained ever since, after Nazi Germany’s collapse.
The Lue Map purports to be a cryptic key to this location, perhaps somewhere near the Four Corners in the southwest of the U.S. Or – another suggestion – it is an encoded description of the location of Fort Knox, the actual location of gold stockpiled by the U.S. government, drawn up by the aforementioned spy rings, for the benefit of their Nazi spymasters.

Please note that unauthorised digging for treasure is illegal in most jurisdictions and as such not encouraged or endorsed by this article.

Source – http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/nazi-treasure-maps

Leyland Trucks 120

Leyland Trucks is universally recognised as one of Britain’s leading manufacturing companies.

Celebrating an astonishing 120 years of production in 2016, the company is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of PACCAR Inc, and the global centre of its light and medium duty truck design, development and manufacture. The Leyland facility now produces around 14,500 vehicles per year and employs 1,000 people at its 86-acre site, but where does the story begin?

The origin of truck-building in Leyland can be traced back to two men – James Sumner and Henry Spurrier – who together formed The Lancashire Steam Motor Company in 1896 to build a 1.5 ton capacity steam van. The two friends could not have foreseen the incredible success story which would give the town worldwide recognition and leave a legacy which would be passed down through generations.

The first petrol-engined vehicle, nicknamed The Pig, was produced in 1904, followed a year later by the supply of the first Leyland bus for service in London. In 1907 the company absorbed the steam wagon builder Coulthards of Preston, adopting the name of Leyland Motors Limited later in the year.

The First World War had a profound effect on Leyland Motors and the company concentrated on building 5,932 vehicles for the British forces. At the height of the war, Leyland was employing more than 3,000 people.

With the late 1920s came some legendary Leyland models which put the company at the forefront of bus and truck design, starting the Leyland Zoo with animal names for models such as the Lion, Lioness, Llama, Leveret, Tiger,   Terrier, Badger, Beaver, Bull, Bison and Buffalo, along with the non-animal Leviathon, Titan and Titanic, which brought the company back to prosperity after the crisis of the early 1920s. Names such as these would be synonymous with Leyland for nearly 60 years until the T45 range swept them away.

The 1930s continued the development of this well received range, as Hippo, Rhino, Octopus and Buffalo were added to the ‘heavy’ range of vehicles. Trolleybuses and Chorley-built fire    engines also became well established in the line-up of products. A leap forward during this period was the introduction of Leyland’s own compression ignition engine (diesel), after which the days of the petrol engine were numbered in civilian use Leyland vehicles.

A ‘secret’ factory to build tanks was finished just as the Second World War began. Wartime output was varied as 11,000 employees produced 9,000 wheeled vehicles, 3,000 tanks, 10,000 tank engines and a large quantity of munitions.

The 1950s saw a massive expansion of Leyland Motors as the famous UK makes of Scammell  Lorries and Albion Motors were acquired, and the company became a major supplier to international markets.

Overall, the 1970s were a challenging period for Leyland although at the end of the decade the new T45 range was announced. As this product was brought to market, a new £33 million assembly plant opened on the outskirts of Leyland, which remains the home of the current day Leyland Trucks.

Trouble hit in 1982 when employees took part in strikes over workers rights due to the reorganisation of the company. This ultimately affected the business, with almost 1,800 job losses.

The truck operation had been drastically reduced by the early 1980s and the bus and truck sides were separated ready for their sell off in 1987 when Leyland Trucks was merged with Netherlands-based DAF to form Leyland DAF.

Despite efforts to save the company, receivers were called in on February 2 1993, bringing hundreds of job losses across the Leyland and Chorley sites.

A new DAF heavy truck business restarted in Holland and Belgium within a month, but it was a management buyout at Leyland Trucks in June 1993 that proved the salvation of truck-building in the town. A new arrangement with DAF established that Leyland Trucks sells to the UK and European markets through ‘new DAF’.

In 1996 PACCAR acquired DAF and in 1998 Leyland Trucks. The period since 1998 has seen substantial growth in volumes and profit, and significant investment in product, facilities and people.

The current award winning Leyland Trucks company produces the full range of DAF Trucks product in support of the company’s markets in the UK and around the world, utilising state of the art manufacturing process and lean methodologies. It has recently undergone major renovation and has also benefited from multi-million-pound investment, keeping it at the cutting edge of technology.  Amongst many technological  innovations, track-based employees benefit from an electronic work instruction system, providing complex real time build information on each bespoke truck that comes down the production line.

The site currently operates at a 12 trucks per hour capacity, with 2015 production at 14,500 trucks – 60 per cent of production serving the UK market and the remaining 40 per cent exported. Such significant export capability has led the company in previous years to win the prestigious Queens Award for   Enterprise in International Trade. While in the UK, approximately one in three new trucks on the road come from the Leyland Trucks facility.

In 2015 Leyland Trucks celebrated the production of the 400,000th commercial vehicle built at the plant. The vehicle, a DAF XF 460 FTP tractor unit, was handed over to customer, Carr’s Flour of Silloth in Cumbria, during a special ceremony.

In addition to hosting numerous customer visits, Leyland Trucks regularly welcomes many schools, colleges and universities to the site, with nearly 500 students visiting in 2015.

And it has also had its fair share of visits from VIPs, including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and later Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, in 2003.

Leyland Trucks also has a long history of developing its people, utilising apprenticeship schemes and encouraging a culture of teamwork and enterprise. Its longstanding commitment to apprenticeships and to the continuous development of employees has resulted in many of its workforce gaining higher level qualifications and moving on to senior positions within the organisation. The company has expanded its range of apprenticeship opportunities and now offers apprenticeships across its assembly operations, maintenance environments, design  centre and parts business. Such investment in   employees ensures the Leyland Trucks workforce is highly skilled, something highlighted continually in its strapline:

Leyland Trucks fosters a collaborative approach with its employees, inspiring people to be involved in all aspects of the business, while also encouraging initiatives that have wider benefit to the community. One such initiative is the Helping Hand charity   committee. Since its founding in 1994, employees from many areas of the business have devoted their time to the generation of funds which are distributed to a wide variety of local charities and good causes.

Thanks to Lancashire Evening Post and Leyland Trucks.