Urban Air Pollution !

More recently the UK Green lobby has been making a big deal about Urban Air Pollution by brandishing statistics which claim up to 5000 people die early every year due to air pollution to call for curbs on car use in town centres. However ” sensible environmentalist ” Bjorn  Lomborg  uses the same 5000 figure and points to third world indoor cooking open fires as the main driver behind the statistics and the main UK health problem is probably the incidence of severe asthma attacks.
My first encounter with asthma came when I was at primary school and during the summer school holidays went to stay with my granny and granddad, he suffered from asthma after developing pneumonia after getting cold and wet working on his farm years ago.  Despite smoking seriously strong Twist in his pipe and occasional back drafts of smoke from the coal fire his attacks were not that often but when he did get one my granny would get his ” puffing pills ” and give him one which soon sorted his breathing back to normal.  Right through my school days I can’t recall any members of my class having problems with asthma although inevitably some of the kids at secondary school I didn’t know must have had it.  If you bought into the more recent health propaganda I was probably particularly at risk living on a sharp corner of the then very busy before the M62 A59 in the first 6 years of my life and before the local by-pass took most of the traffic away from our village.
I kept up with news and current affairs throughout my life and it was not really until the late 1980s that risks to health from transport emissions became higher on the agenda and in the beginning mostly focussed on Lead which the university boffins claimed to have proved restricted mental capacity development in kids living near busy roads.  As a result legislation was enacted to make all new cars capable of using unleaded petrol and in 1989 I purchased a new 1000cc Metro with a reduced compression ratio and hardened valve seat inserts to run on the standard 95 octane ( and cheaper than leaded 4star ) unleaded petrol.  I soon got pissed off by getting gassed by the acrid exhaust fumes when pulling up steep hills on narrow roads with high edges when I had the window open so I went back to using 4star and adjusted the ignition timing by advancing it as far as practical without causing pinking and made her as fast as a standard 1300.  I still got gassed occasionally and especially when following BMW’s which were probably running on even higher octane ” Super Unleaded ” up hills and soon to counter the problem the EU made catalytic converters mandatory on all new cars.
I knew all about octane improvers after being pointed to and reading about the development of piston aero engines after reading The Power To Fly by LJK Setwright and which was by then out of print so I had to order it from the local library.   The performance of British fighter planes was significantly improved by first using highly toxic Toluene as an octane improver and later in combination with water methanol injection ( the methanol was to stop the water freezing at high altitude ) but further development was curbed by the advent of the reliable Jet engine.   I knew all about Toluene from my time delivering it and other hazardous chemicals when driving for Sandiford’s and it was used extensively as a solvent in the print industry and particularly the production of glossy colour magazines.
Jumping forward in time to after 1993 when I retired due to my back problem and instances of severe asthma attacks were still going trough the roof and I contacted BBC Science ” ask us any question ” so my question was about Toluene levels in petrol to which I got the answer that Toluene levels had not significantly changed in the last two years.   They basically dodged the question by not going as far back as the introduction of unleaded petrol, I further inquired as to whether they were using Toluene in Jet Fuel but drew a blank because they said it was a commercial secret.  At least I did find out that they were now using a Manganese compound as an octane improver but there were still loads of non cat fitted cars on the road after leaded petrol was withdrawn from sale.  Furthermore, the original cat systems mounted under the floor some distance from the engine took time to reach efficient operating temperature and unless you had the opportunity to work the engine hard before you hit slow traffic their effectiveness was significantly reduced.   The latest designs with the cat mounted almost direct on the exhaust manifold have much improved the problem but now the environmental health lobby have put their focus on the now more common than petrol diesel powered vehicles.
When I was a teenager my favourite choice was to ride shotgun in a 1970 ERF eight-wheeler bulk powder tank as driven by a middle age driver who was born in East Anglia into a farming family who moved up to my local area when his father got a small farm on the flank of Pendle Hill.   The main job was originally delivering cement as far as the North East over the original A59 Blubberhouses route but that dried up due to appeasing the trade unions and the new 30 ton gross eight-wheel tankers the company had introduced so we started hauling dried foundry sand from BIS Chelford in Cheshire.  The main run was Stockton Castings an easy day mostly with time for an hour’s kip in a layby on the A19 on the way back to arrive just in time for me to refuel after school, a bigger challenge was first do a run down to Tipton ( north Birmingham ) then another load back to Kiethley.  It took about 45 minutes to discharge a full tank of sand and so to keep warm on cold days ( the cab heaters were useless ) I would stand in the exhaust stream from the tailpipe of the silencer which was mounted transverse under the radiator and came out at about knee level just in front of the front offside wheel with no problem from breathing in the fumes from the engine on about half revs to drive the Holmes blower.
MUP 875J was fitted with a Gardner 6LX naturally aspirated 10.45 litre engine developing 150 Bhp at 1700 Rpm originally introduced in 1958 and was basically an enlargement of their 8 litre 120 Bhp 6LW which was developed in the 1930s and which revolutionised road transport in the UK before WW2. In 1968 the 6LX was uprated to 180 Bhp at 1850 Rpm by advancing the valve timing by 11 degrees and changing the valve seats angle to 30 degrees from the original 45 to give a bigger port opening for a given valve lift although some still held that a 150 was just as good if you filed a few thou off the pump cold start trigger to inject more fuel.  The cold start trigger got filed on the 180s as well with the aim of resulting in a slight puff of smoke on the initial press of the accelerator from idle then clear smoke free, and it is also interesting to note that a steam locomotive boiler is at its peak thermal efficiency with light grey smoke coming from the chimney.
In the 1960s any serious haulage companies ( they were very popular for use in buses as well ) who could afford them used Gardner engines as fitted to ERF Atkinson Seddon and Guy’s even though some chose the far less fuel efficient but more mechanically reliable 12 litre US design Cummins ( built at Shotts central Scotland ) first 180 Bhp then uprated to 220 in the early 1970s and a 14 litre 250.  Also the Rolls-Royce Eagle 12.17 litre by then 220 as built in the former Sentinel steam wagon works at Shrewsbury was proving useful whilst the powerful GM Detroit Diesel two-strokes never really caught on due to their heavy fuel consumption.  Its worth mentioning that one of the GM engine Horton quarry Terex loading shovels managed 18000 hours major breakdown free despite recommended engine overall at 6000 hours according to a fitter friend of mine who worked there. 
Then came the turbocharger revolution and Gardner did try to fight back with its 8LXB 240 later uprated 265 LXC and 6LXC 200 then 6LXCT turbo producing 230 Bhp. By the end of the 1970s everyone was moving onto the turbo RR Eagle 265 then 290 and Cummins produced a turbo 14 litre 290 which was heavier on fuel than a RR but then a redesign with a Big Cam made Cummins more fuel efficient and then inlet manifold engine cooling water ” intercooling ” gave 320 Bhp by 1985.  Engines were getting more reliable as well mostly due to advances in materials technology and the reliability of RR in particular was transformed by new composite pistons with the top piston ring grove incorporated in a cast in cast iron insert.   More accurate CNC machining was also playing its part whist Gardner struck back with its 15 litre 6LYT which never caught on in haulage but was fitted to the double deck coaches Stagecoach were flying down the fast lane of the M6 between Glasgow and London.
Again I digress, but getting back to the asthma story in spring 1991 on returning from exploring New Zealand for seven weeks I got a job working at the by then Stagecoach owned Ribble bus garage at Clitheroe on the late shift cleaning buses and assisting the fitters in the garage when required.  The cleaner guy in his mid fifties who I worked with and initially showed me the ropes had worked for Ribble in the same lowly capacity since he left school, initially at Burnley depot and had transferred to Clitheroe when that closed.  He told me that he had suffered from asthma since he was a child in WW2 yet despite the significant stagnant and visible diesel fume level in the enclosed garage it never bothered him.  The fleet mostly comprised Bristol VRT double deckers fitted with de-rated to 170 Bhp 6LXB Gardners and short Leyland National single deckers fitted with 11 litre Leyland 680 engines.  The fleet was probably on average more smoky than it needed to be because the fitters never checked the condition of the air cleaners because it wasn’t included on the check list and it was so bad that a couple of Leyland Nationals actually broke down and had to be towed in due to blocked air cleaners.  When I was there we got a set of brand new double deck coach Leyland Olympians fitted with full rated Gardner 6LXB’s which were not really up to the job they were intended for, I left in November ( by then because of my usefulness working the early shift ) after a sharp frost completely knackered my back.
In 1993 I got involved in a serious relationship with a five years older than me former childhood sweetheart who’s marriage had broken down with two male kids, the eldest in the last year at primary school, youngest just starting and she arranged to rent a house in my village.  Her eldest son suffered from asthma but also mild coordination problems and was subsequently diagnosed as having a mild form of autism, and ADHD probably precipitated by the acrimonious divorce circumstances.   He used both the blue acute and brown alleged preventative inhalers perhaps not as fully effective due to his coordination problem and I recall once having to take him down to the treatment room at Clitheroe Health Centre to use a nebuliser after one particularly bad asthma attack.  It is interesting to note that he enjoyed our trips out to preserved steam railways and being tall for his age big enough to dangle his head out of the front coach door window in all the smoke and ash particles from the locomotive without experiencing an asthma attack !
Around that time the local cement works had started using waste print industry solvents to save money and perhaps help burn the low grade imported coal they were using more efficiently and pollution was obviously a real problem in our village a mile and a half down prevailing wind.  It was probably at its worst on still mornings and when  I went outside the back of our house on such mornings the air smelt just like someone had been over charging batteries.  One of the young pigeons I bred for racing in spring 1994 emerged from the nest deformed and I couldn’t help speculating that it was due to dioxins from burning Toluene and so I joined the local anti pollution group Residents Against Toxic Substances.  A big public meeting was held in the Civic Hall at Clitheroe which I attended and afterwards I met a New Zealand originating alleged pollution expert and attempted to challenge him about Toluene being used in unleaded petrol but he wouldn’t be drawn on the subject.  RATS delegates were invited to attend meetings with the cement works and with the also RATS key member and local top CPRE man former Greenpeace activist I attended the meeting where it was agreed that they would install one of the latest flue gas scrubbers.  During the meeting I asked the then HMIP expert in attendance if the scrubber would remove all toxic emission to which the answer was a firm yes and I also brought up the quality of the coal they were using but the works manager blew really cold on that,  We took the results back to the next RATS meeting but some of the members were not satisfied with the proposal and wanted to carry on the fight which probably proved that their intention was to close down the works all along, I resigned pointing to the fact that the flue gas scrubber was the best social and sustainable local economy option. The top CPRE guy resigned from RATS soon after which perhaps precipitated CPRE sacking him and he moved out of the area soon after as his posh wife got sacked from her job as headmistress of a village school perhaps linked to her preaching green ideology to the mostly farmers kids.   A part of the agreement was to build a high tech pollution monitoring station at the bottom of the playing fields in my village but it never recorded anything except on bonfire night with the big village bonfire lit 50 yards away from it and after ten years it was dismantled.

Getting back to developments in internal combustion engine technology I religiously watched the Sunday morning transmissions of the BBC series Technical Studies which covered various examples of manufacturing industry production practices and even taped it on VHS video in the intention of showing it to my girlfriend’s kids as part of their education.  I was sad to find that they were more interested in playing what I found pointless computer games like Super Mario but one of the programmes featured Perkins diesel engine combustion chamber design advances.  Since the 1930s various designs had been experimented with to achieve more complete combustion of the fuel and I wish I still had the 1941 technical book The Modern Diesel which had detail drawings of them all which I lost due to lending it to a long past alleged friend who never gave it me back.   I did try to order it from the local library but they sent me a 1949 edition which didn’t cover it along with other useful information on research on bio-fuels although as a consolation I did get some new useful info on the Sentinel diesel engine.   The Gardner had a simple about an inch deep bowl in the centre of the top of the piston plus a mask on the inlet valve to induce ” swirl ” to mix the injected fuel better whist some engines like the RR 220 had the mask cast into the inlet port of the cylinder head.  Most smaller diesel engines had indirect injection into a chamber in the cylinder head connected to the cylinder by a narrow tube originally including the Perkins 6.354 featured in the programme but almost all diesel engines are direct injection now.  My conclusion is that the Gardner’s fuel efficiency secret was a longer than average connecting rod which meant the piston decelerated at a slower rate approaching top dead centre then initially accelerated slower as the fuel burned at the beginning of the power stoke thus allowing fuel injection to start at 31 degrees before TDC when most engines risked breaking the crankshaft and were bad to cold start at 26 ?


The programme showed how the designers with the help of computer simulations developed of the shape of the ” torroidal ” and to cope with the high temperature on the desired narrow lip used high tech alloy steel inserts cast into the top of the piston.   They had managed to get 180 BHP from an engine which originally produced 100 Bhp when it was designed ( I was informed by the now dead former Perkins works service engineer guy who failed to give me my book back ) by an Indian engineer who’s name was Panica.   The advance was probably also due to the advent of modern computerised electrickery engine management which has overcome the ” turbo lag ” you get with air intercooling using a radiator in front of the engine cooling radiator.  It all helped in the virtual arms race where corporate haulage and bus companies strived to stand still and maintain journey times against the many new small roundabouts now littering our trunk roads, extra stops for new traffic lights, likewise the EU directive speed limiters which stop drivers making up lost time where its safe to do so.  Corporates often specify the most powerful engine option available in order to achieve satisfactory progress from their often screened by psychometric testing to select totally brain dead idiots who will slavishly follow their directions without question.   It hasn’t done them any good and the proof may be that Eddie Stobart would have gone bust and closed down recently but for an unspecified ” investor ” buying its massive debts for £1 and perhaps the company only grew because the Banks gave him favours to offer rig the free market scams like free haulage into warehousing at Penrith from anywhere in central Scotland.


More recently technical developments have been skewed by the EU inspired obsession with reducing Co2 emissions but the result has been a massive increase in NOX emissions as revealed in the press recently in an article pointing out that the new alleged super green Merc London Taxi’s now taking over the market have far higher NOX emissions than the old Manganese Bronze British design they are intended to replace ASAP.  To appease the heath-fascist quasi-religion all new diesels must be fitted with carbon particulate filters in the exhaust but even they probably miss the smallest particles health experts claim are small enough to enter the blood stream.  Apparently unless you go for a regular flat out blast up the motorway to clean them out they become clogged and then it costs thousands to replace them and are they just another convenient excuse to promote false economic growth which in turn increases the ever growing financial apartheid between rich and poor.  Larger particles are probably not a problem anyway as gravity soon brings them harmlessly to the ground whereas the small stuff hangs around in the air for ages and nobody ever mentions the ash which can vary in different sourced oil.


 I am minded towards the conclusion that given my above observations it must therefore be reasonable to believe that NOX emissions ( as now proven increased by 37% by Traffic Calming ) has been the primary trigger for asthma attacks all along, and I did try to get my ideas across to professionals by opening an account on and publishing links to some of my observations LinkdIn.  It was useful in that I got into contact with a top guy from a company which has developed a Hydrogen injection system which he claimed reduced NOX emissions by 30% whist at the same time reducing fuel consumption.  The Hydrogen was generated as required by the electrolysis of water and the prototype had been proved in the engines of mobile container cranes at Rotterdam docks and could be retro fitted to older vehicles, but perhaps its introduction would be stalled by the part of the Corporate Multinational Cartel big engine manufacturers just like a proven to save fuel steam injection idea from the mid 1990s when they ruled it would void their warranty.  I subsequently dropped contact with the guy because in the resulting direct email correspondence it became clear that his primary objective was to milk the climate change mitigation component of foreign aid money by selling new vehicles fitted with his system to Ethiopia where it was obvious it would soon fail anyway simply due to the lack of reliable supplies of clean water.


I also got into email contact with a top London teaching hospital lung disease specialist and sent him my observations about traffic calming whist pointing out that lager particulates were probably less potentially dangerous to health but from his reply it would appear that his only interest was getting fossil fuel based transport banned in cities completely.   I also got into a heated argument with a Scottish based top transport manager guy involved in national milk collection and delivery over an article in which I stated my conclusion of the true cause of the Sowerby Bridge disaster ( killed 6 people ) back in the mid 1990s from practical experience of driving the route.   He claimed that I didn’t know what I was talking about and how he had studied the case in detail whist at university, and yet he probably proved my conclusion that it was caused by the ex-police ( retired long service ) driver pumping ( like trained to do with a hydraulic car ) the well faded from peak effectiveness air brakes before he set out down the hill on which his wagon ran away.   He said that by-standing pedestrians at the top of the hill had heard the driver testing his brakes, with ing being the operative and indicating that he pressed the brake pedal several times as you can only hear anything when the brakes are released.  I only wish I knew then what I know now and it has since been proven that Norman Bettison was the most senior key police officer involved in the cover up of the truth about the Hillsborough disaster when he was at South Yorkshire and by the time of the Sowerby Bridge disaster he was the newly appointed Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.  Was it all yet another cover up to protect the police ( road safety ) reputation again, and would the conclusion of the investigation have been different if the driver had been one of the young farm lads from the dales who drove most of the Fewston wagons ?


If I can find time I have promised myself to write an article outlining my full analysis of all the contributory factors leading to the Sowerby Bridge disaster, and I have long since been electronically excommunicated by LinkdIn ( even though I still technically hold an account and they still send me emails ) probably due to my  dangerous radical political views and especially my anti big corporate angle.  Its the same with me and the BBC, and similarly most of the prominent UK celebrity lefties have blocked me on facebook and Twitter as they attempt to pretend that I don’t exist !


Arch Plan Agenda 21 Update !

I’ve just been speculating on the assumptions that can be drawn from reading between the lines of and particularly the spin on the proposed merger between Astra Zeneca and Pfizer which the stock market parasites seem to be frothing at the mouth about with the FTSE up leveraging the imaginary money they pretend they have proven by the bid price, which has been festered by the fact that Astra Zeneca rejected the original Pfizer offer. Pfizer could probably use any trade restrictions or theoretical cast iron promises on job cuts to lower the price if they are honest, but they wont because the most probable reason they need to merger is the possibility that they are on the point of going bust and potential merger is an a attempt to at least hide it and support their future share price by paying good dividends. Like most of the Corporate Multinational Cartel ( including the Banks ) Pfizer are probably trading technically insolvent if their share price drops 10% yet Astra Zeneca is said to be turning a reasonable profit and had no plans to restructure ?

Perhaps Pfizer’s main commercial nightmare is the probability that sales of their ( aimed at the recreation market ) star drug Viagra have fallen because like most drugs its effectiveness significantly reduces if you take it regularly, and in any case most of the key target chronically sick men over 40 market Pfizer had long term projected had discovered that the ( out of patent dirt cheap ) Ramipril heart drug their GP had prescribed them had a similar side effect. Similarly the makers of Gaviscon have the impending headache of people discovering that if they go to a competent GP about recurrent heartburn he or she could give you Lansoprazole ( take one a day ) and you will never need to worry again and can eat anything without problem. The only reason I found out was because I told the on the point of retirement not my own woman GP ( who perhaps mistakenly diagnosed the urgent need remove my appendix when I was 18 I went to see urgent arranged that morning ) with a serious crick neck who suggested I used high dose Ibuprofen on top of my ( addicted to ) Tramadol to ease the pain. I told her no chance got bad heartburn so she suggested I take Lansoprazole. again cheap out of patent and free to me anyway as I have a prescription prepayment certificate ( £104 for the full year but you can get 3 months reasonable ) for all my other medication. I explained my observations to my own 20 years relationship now GP when I saw him shortly after so he put them on my regular monthly script, check situation when I see him at an appointment every year next one technically overdue now.

Despite all the Labour propaganda we have a good efficient Health Centre at Clitheroe now, daytime minor injuries Monday to Friday can be fixed in the Treatment Room just walk in ( and you can ring up in the morning to see a GP the same day ) but the money they spent bringing it up to modern standards hasn’t actually made the service any better. I go to visit the practice nurse ( officially around my birthday ) every year for my annual MOT and they now do a prior fasting blood test which is probably worth the hassle because you always get a competent nurse who can do it first stab despite the fact that my elbow veins are bad to see so I help by pointing to the approximate area from past experience. They never whinge when I initially ignore their reminder letter and wait until I’m certain to get my flu jab at the same time, none of them ever badger me about being significantly over weight or my openly admitted chain smoking which I believe is a key component in enhancing my creativity by improving my ability to focus my mind on the task involved.

A quick scan back through British history suggests that there were no big scientifically significant discoveries or advances in engineering technology until smoking became popular and useful technology advanced fastest when everyone could afford to smoke during the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Take R J Mitchell for instance, on the surface an ordinary guy who served his apprenticeship building steam locomotives yet he consistently won the Schnider trophy with his revolutionary aircraft design, then his Spitfire which probably saved our freedom in WW2. If anybody ever bothered to check I expect they would find there was a higher proportion of smokers ( when compared to the non smoking population ) who genuinely benefitted the advancement of humanity and forged real progress which benefitted everyone on our planet and it is therefore reasonable to believe that smoking is no bad thing even if it does kill some people early.

As usual I digress, but to get back to the Arch Plan it would appear that GWPF founder Lord Lawson ( who points to the danger of current energy policy ) is promoting the Pfizer takeover whatever the consequences when Astra’s main site former ICI group plant nestled in the foothills of the Peak District at Macclesfield is probably a key target for Corporate Ethnic Cleansing. Ancient Cheshire market town situated on the main Manchester-London rail line with a potential frequent semi-fast service when HS2 is completed and the fast trains currently going through but not stopping become redundant. the road link’s are not bad either. I went to the then ICI plant as last drop on a day run starting with the proportions of acetone and methylated spirits in drums to make nail varnish remover at since closed Vanda Beauty on the salt mine road at Winsford ( right on the bank of the tourist potential Weaver Navigation ) comprising most of the floor on a 40ft flat. Next drop was the now closed due to the digital revolution Kodak plant just outside Knutsford with some drums of hazardous chemicals for use in the photo processing they once did there, and after Macclesfield I went to pick up at Pointon.

It was obvious that there was serious manufacturing going on a Macclesfield and the stock market parasite asset strippers will be keen to get their paws on all the latest machinery and change money on it when its sold to China or India, then change money again when we import what was once made here and forget the future balance of trade deficit because it looks better in the short term. Other corporates will benefit by pretending to help the redundant workforce find new jobs and alleged low carbon Business Green subscribing fraudsters will be given generous government grants to locate there. All in all the perfect false economic growth scenario and keep the trade unions on board with good redundancy payments to squander on consumer goods for those with long service. I suspect that those with long service who had enough nouse to pay off their mortgage completely will be quite happy to retire and live relatively modestly off their probably artificially enhanced company pension ( until in addition they can claim their state OAP pension ) in total blissful ignorance of the almost certain impending global financial meltdown likely to wipe it out when the crash comes !

I am minded towards the conclusion that anyone in the UK who still religiously votes for any of the established LibLabCon politicians in 2015 is a 21st century equivalent of the WW2 Jews who willingly bought the train tickets to the concentration camps from the SS on the promise of a new better life after transportation to the east. The same principle probably applies with the Scottish independence and the SNP promising to end the Bedroom Tax and a better welfare state ( some German Jews were probably glad to escape the allied bombing ) , and were the recent Welfare Reforms part of the Arch Plan Agenda 21 to theoretically ensure a Yes vote. The Green Party’s policy is a sad joke apart from their Citizens Income proposal but even that’s projected too low anyway and poor people will be no better off after paying green taxes to subsidise renewable energy projects and fund the ever increasing unemployed due to high energy costs and are we all now experiencing the ” New Dark Age ” Winston Churchill foresaw ?

” Knight of the Road ” Safety Culture Pt2 !

My first practical introduction to driving on the road came when I was 16 when I acquired a second hand Gillera 50cc trail bike style moped from one of the older teenagers in my village mainly for visiting some friends of mine were into ” scrambling ” at Whalley 6 miles down the valley from me and where my granny lived and my dad was born.  It replaced the 26 inch wheel three speed Sturmey Archer custom cycle I had built up using cheap second hand parts and a high gearing small sprocket from a small wheel bike, moderate ” cow horn ” handlebars and best quality Michelin tyres when I was around 15.  My main school friend from Whalley had a Honda 125 trail bike and permission to ride it in fields around the sewage works by the river Calder so we all got to have a go until broke down with bent valves due to rocking back after stalling, then Unwin got given a Honda plastic 50 and we thrashed that until it broke down also.  In any case it meant that I had some experience of riding ( and falling off ) motorcycles when I went on the road and on my 16th birthday ( half way through September ) I got up at the crack of dawn and went for a ride before school.  I was all geared up but 100 yards up the road I realised that I’d forgot to put my helmet on and had to go back to get it, we never used helmets riding around the fields.


Anyway for the next month I zoomed as fast as possible around the local roads, 45 Mph flat out on the level but she would do 60 down Waddington Fell and I invested in a new full face helmet to replace the open face one I got with the bike which was slightly too big anyway.  She was regularly losing power ( which with hindsight was probably due to dodgy crankshaft oil seals ) but was improved by stripping and cleaning out the carburettor.   One sunny crisp October morning she played up when I was going to school so even though it meant being well late I cleaned the carb then set off for a test run up Pendle Hill through Downham as featured in the award winning children’s film Whistle Down The Wind and later in TV series the latest being Born and Bred.  I still had some latent anxiety when I went down past the church and over the bridge then set left on the Barley road and was attacking the fairly steep hill up past the village hall when the visor of my helmet dropped shut and the refraction in the micro scratches meant the low sun facing me temporarily blinded me.  It al happened pretty quick and by the time I realised what was happening my right arm had collided with the wing mirror of a by then stationary Ford D series coal merchant’s wagon driven by a west Indian coming down the hill in the opposite direction.


Almost immediately I picked myself up off the road and my right arm failed to respond when I tried to use it to remove my helmet it was just dangling by my side and I was escorted into the village hall ( open to make the school dinners ) and sat down to wait for the ambulance and it was not really until then that the pain started.  I was taken to Accrington Victoria casualty department where a subsequent X-ray revealed a clean break in my upper arm two thirds the way up from my elbow and if it had happened today they would have operated and plated it.  At that time the general technique was to simply put your arm in a sling and let gravity use your elbow to align the bone but they considered the injury bad enough top put a half plaster on to protect it held in place by sticking plaster pads on my shoulder and sent me home in good time for tea.


The traffic police guy came to interview me at home a couple of days after and I tried to explain what had happened but I was in agony with the bone knitting at the time, still in a daze and just glad when he had gone.   They concluded that it was my fault because technically there was enough room on the road for me to get through safely and I was subsequently charged for driving without due care and attention then fined £30 by the local magistrates court.   There must have been many similar accidents because that type of visor was banned later.


I was off school because the bulk of the half plaster meant that I couldn’t wear normal clothes and the sticking plaster on my shoulder kept coming unstuck so I had to keep going back to hospital to get it replaced in addition to official appointments, not much I could do but watched TV including William Hague’s famous Tory conference speech when he was 16.  At least I could go round to the local garage and keep up with my friends there, the company was growing at that time new flat work job Burnley Paper to Watchet near Bridgewater in Somerset.  We also took over the yard of the other once much bigger Chatburn haulage firm in the bottom of the village as it was impossible to get a 40ft trailer into the original garage yard.  I was almost Christmas by the time I got the plaster off and I didn’t get back to school until new year, by which time I had bought a Suzuki AP 50 from an older mate at Whalley and despite my conviction and claim arranged a third party rider policy at reasonable cost via the father of a scrambling enthusiast school friend who ran an insurance broker business at Nelson.  I was still having bother with my shoulder but that ended after one day at the garage I was fooling around with one of the drivers who had trained as a paint sprayer and was painting a brand new B-Series ERF RR 265L tractor unit, first new wagon since 1962.  He pushed me backwards by my right shoulder with some force and I was in agony for a short time but I never had any bother with it after but if archeologists .ever dig me up in future they will observe that my upper arm bone has a five degree bend in it.


The AP 50 was more user friendly than the Gillera in that it had mechanical crankshaft lubrication from a tank and you didn’t have to buy fixed half gallon amounts of petrol and use the two stroke oil pump all garages had then, with its 5 speed gearbox it would do 50 on the flat even with my 16 stones bulk.  A recurrent problem common to all two-strokes was that the spark plug would ” whisker ” with carbon and stop the engine and therefore it was advisable that you took spare cleaned spark plugs with you, and you were always having to buy new ones.  You were regularly doing a de-coke, fitting a new piston or rings, then the big-end went and I had to get a new crankshaft assembly and fit it, then one the screws came out and cut the plastic lubrication pipes because I never bothered to use Loctite. The big-end went again before I was 17 and that time I decided to give the job to a young guy from another local village who had been in a wheelchair since he was injured in an accident on his bike when he was a kid as a kind of favour.   He was alleged to be an expert on bikes and his brother worked at the main Honda dealers at Accrington, his dad was a driver at the cement works but within ten miles of me paying him when I collected it broke down fortunately within easy pushing distance of friends house at Whalley.  It turned out that the flywheel nut had come off and it had sheared the woodruff key, on closer examination due to the fact that he had ” bluzzed up ” the threaded end of the crankshaft with a hammer and then bodged it with an imperial nut.  My friends dad put the bike in his van and took it back to his garage at Clitheroe where 10 minutes with a thread file, the correct metric nut and a new key and the job was sorted.


Almost as soon as I was 17 I got the chance to buy a written off 120cc Suzuki B100P ( Bloop ) from John the small Clitheroe motorbike shop man who I was good friends with for £60 and fixed the relatively minor damage whist getting my rider policy upgraded to 200cc and used that for my by then regular runs to tech and friends.  Your average teenager bike enthusiast wouldn’t be seen dead on what was considered an old man’s bike but I didn’t care and she would pull 60 all the way up the by-pass but one night on the way home she set off uncontrollably revving and she was bad to start the morning after.  I took her back to the shop and the problem was a mystery to both of us until we checked the gearbox oil level and topped it up, as soon as we started her again you could see the smoke and oil coming out of the exhaust and the problem was clear.   We found that the crankshaft oil seal into the gearbox had disintegrated when we stripped her down so soon the problem was solved but by that time I had arranged to straight swap my AP 50 for an almost new written off Suzuki 185GT two stoke twin John had in his shed at the back.   All it needed was new front fork legs so I went to the main dealers at Preston and got some, straightened the slightly buckled front wheel, filled the dent and re-sprayed the fuel tank but cheated on the glass missing from the speedo  buy putting a clear bag over it secured by a rubber band.  She did me sterling service and would pull 80 on the level and an almost new latest model Suzuki 200 I was lent for the day to got to tech at Accrington on the pretext of buying it was no better and in any case I could keep up with most of the other lads on their 250s anyway  I sold the Bloop for more than it cost me to a local lad and the rider policy allowed me to have a spare bike and I owned a Suzuki TS125 for a time as well for off road expeditions.


I passed my car test first time soon after I was 17 and was covered to use our family corner shop 1400cc then brand new Mazda 323 estate for major expeditions, just used the bike for work at the new garage on the local industrial estate and leisure after that but I was getting pissed off getting cold and wet so I bought an old 1000cc Mini and used that when the Mazda was not available. I part exchanged the 185GT for an AP 50 with my cousin near Preston and sold it to one of the drivers to come to work on.  But it wasn’t the end of my bike story as later I bought the GT185 back off my cousin when it had been rebuilt with a new frame on the insurance when he came off it on some cow shit to use for fun.  I never had the inclination to take my bike test so I had to sell up to a local older guy I knew when the new 125 max on provisional licence rule came in.  Right from the introduction of the 1977 S reg 30 Mph speed limiter for mopeds at 16 legislation the ” Speed Kills ” quasi-religion safety-fascist inspired politicians were falling into the ” There as an old woman who swallowed a fly ” scenario as it wasn’t really worth  buying a moped to gain worthwhile road-craft experience anymore unless you were desperate and so the very same people who were likely to kill themselves at 16 then went straight in at the deep end with a 250 at 17,  or killed themselves or passengers in a car shortly after they passed their quasi-religion inspired inadequate driving test anyway !

” Knight of the Road ” Safety Culture Pt1 !

UK road haulage safety culture was a living organism circulated between the drivers and fitters via the more experienced men relating stories of past incidents in conversation whilst waiting to tip or load, brew times in the garage or in the pub after work at night, and was continually evolving at least to the time I left the industry in 1993.  A commonwealth of accumulated experience with its roots in the beginning of modern vehicle technology in the 1930s.
Like I mentioned in my Coal Board article I started in the haulage industry at 13 and we had an informal Wagon Club at school at playtime, break the rules and go out on the front where it was quiet.  I was the youngest member, two 2 year older boys who individually helped out at 2 of the main haulage contractors in Clitheroe and a slightly older boy who I was mates with who’s dad was part of the driving furniture at Horrocksford, like my uncle Louis.  We swapped stories about what was going on mostly banter but it was a good way to find out about accidents like when Mad Monk went through the Settle & Carlisle railway bridge at Lancliffe ( just above Settle on the Horton-in-Ribblesdale road ) on the way down loaded from Horton quarry.  Its all downhill wide road from the then less than 10Mph summit of Sherwood Brow ( Sherod ) and it was standard practice to touch 60 by the ” top paper mill ” and opposite tip entrance. the gradient up towards the bridge takes quite a big slice out of that but you have to brake and change down a couple of gears to be set up for the significant gradient up across the bridge which is 30 Mph max left curve immediately prior.
I was later informed when on the pretext of borrowing an oil can from the garage at Horton that people listening to the action on the adjacent allotments heard no attempt to brake or change down and as Mad Monk knew the road well the true cause remains a mystery and its a bit ironic that said unit only had a 180 Gardner when the rest of that company’s fleet were fitted with eight cylinder 240s. A Clitheroe company one of the school club members worked for bought the wrecked tractor unit and after she was rebuilt she did many further years profitable service.
In the early 1980s I was friends with quite a few people in Settle via CB radio, one of whom was the son of the top local ambulance guy and thus I got to see a photo of the aftermath of the Mad Monk incident taken from the railway track bed at the bottom of the 30ft deep rock cutting.   The trailer was almost dangled down the side of the cutting with the tractor unit jack-knifed to its left on the northbound track underneath it.  It was allegedly a close shave but the authorities managed to stop the approaching Thames-Clyde express at the signals in time to avoid any further carnage. 
Mad Monk survived ( despite the flimsy coach built Atkinson Borderer cab ) with serious injuries and one school club report said that  they had found him with the fuel tank pinning him down by the chest, he made a full recovery and ended up driving one of the local Ribble Valley dustbin wagons.  Everyone claims that Reliant plastic pig cars are dangerous but it was an even less serious outcome when Taffy’s fiberglass cab A-Series ERF clashed with a steel ( ergomatic ) cabbed AEC under the too narrow for two HGV’s to pass under in opposite directions arch Ingfield bridge at the southern A65 entrance to Settle.  I saw the result after it was dragged back to the operators yard, it was a total wreck almost as if a bomb had hit it and the trailer was wrecked as well, Taffy survived with cuts and bruises but sadly the AEC driver from outside the area died after a few days in hospital.
When I was at Sandiford’s we did tipper work for Shell owned Gilbraith’s using one of their tri-axle trailers ( as fitted with a hand start donkey engine )  from Horton to the cement works at Clitheroe technically to replace stone Tarmac had taken from the cement owned quarry.  It was as dug rock straight from the quarry face and it had wrecked the trailer floor before I started, in fact Gilbraith maintenance and care about their equipment seemed poor as I was to find out later.  There was also 6mm which the Horton weighbridge guys gave me because they had known me since I was a kid and it meant I could tip at the gantry and load from the stock-field and avoid going all the way up the quarry to load and down to the crusher to tip thus shortening the distance by half a mile.   I got into trouble by doing 5 loads a day when Gibraith’s own drivers were doing 4  ( Taffy big union man claimed that ” you can’t do 5 legal ” ) but got around it parking overnight in an empty chipping dump within 5 minutes walk of my home and refuelling at the next door to my backyard local garage.  A bonus was that I got paid a tenner night out money for doing the extra load.  I used to lap Gilbraith’s drivers by afterboon but I was also using the short cut ( now weight limit ) road through my village of Chatburn ( home for dinner ).
Around that time we got a job hauling betula birch wood pulp imported at Tillbury then sent  by rail to the depot at Fogarty’s Blackburn forward by road to Bowater Scott ( Andrex bog roll ) at the north west end of Barrow-in-Furness as part of a months trial.   Obviously it was a stitch up as for almost the entire month in question the main Barrow road was closed for major road-works at Dalton which meant you had use the unsuitable for efficient use of HGVs coast road from Ulverston which also put you at the opposite end of the town.   It was impossible to do the projected two round trips a day in the then 8 hour driving limit, we tried exchanging trailers at Crooklands in a big lay-by but it was a pointless ball ache and only saviour was doing Barrow in the morning then two tipper trips out of Horton after dinner then load up the flat for the morning after.  You could have done two trips easy if the direct road through Dalton had been open but the rail interchange experiment failed just like is was probably designed to do all along.

I was also lent to Gilbraith’s to drive one of their wagon’s when one of their drivers was off, an old guy who had been with the company since its  pre Shell heyday, now they only had 4 artic tippers left and were dabbling in the skip business in the garage next door to their Austin car dealership.  It was crippled by a 6 am start and you had to get the tractor unit out of the garage and then couple to the trailer in the compound across the road when in haulage an hour in the morning is always worth two in the afternoon.  I quickly familiarised myself with the Bedford TM tractor as fitted with its L10 250 Cummins and set out to do 4 Hortons but it was soon obvious that it couldn’t pull itself out of a paper bag and probably not even as good as a fit 180 Gardner. As a rule I never used the brakes in anger if avoidable but by the end of the day it was apparent that something was amiss with the brakes so on the last run I felt round the brake drums after coming down Sawley Brow immediately prior.   The offside front was stone cold so I reported it at the garage, pick it up the day after already coupled at Sandiford’s yard but within two minutes it was time to turn back home as as soon as you touched the brakes it pulled violently to the right.   Got my employer out of bed and explained the situation to be informed that they had relined the front offside brake the night before, yet not even bothered to check the nearside and as it turned out even adjust it, and to save grief I was persuaded to try adjusting the nearside brake and tried again and it was just about OK.   I was brought up to always reline brakes as an axle, yet Ribble fitters were relining one front brake on buses when I worked there in 1991 even though they had claimed to have been to tech and study sound engineering practice.
One day on hire as driver to Gilbraith’s on the Bedford I did a load of Bricks to the industry training and research centre at the south of Stoke and was soon tipped and off for my back-load from ” Steetly’s Brownhills ” and so off I went to Brownhills on the A5 and couldn’t find a brickworks anywhere.   I rang in to enquire only then to be told that the said brickworks was right next door to Port Vale football ground at the north end of Stoke so I had gone all the way south for nothing due to incompetent management.   I came back north and loaded the bricks but it was far too late to make the planned delivery to site at Leyland, not helped by the fact that the sick 250 could only make 45 Mph on the flat on the motorway with a full 38 tonne load making it into a long hard day.  There was nothing basically wrong with the TM tractor unit, it handled as well as a Seddon Atki, the cab ergonomics were good and my later experience of TM’s with fit engines led me to the opinion that unlike the old Bedford’s they were a really useful tool yet they never caught on and the Bedford factory closed.
As I briefly referred to it in my Coal Board article the work at Sandiford’s changed at that time and the new Knacker Davis junk pet food jobs were often hand ball and my bad back was suffering when another serious wagon accident opened up an opportunity to get back for an easier life on the local based tippers.  Again it was the Horton road and Langcliffe and in this case a totally gormless and lazy if given the opportunity youth a year older than me and with whom I worked as an apprentice when my original company took over his and who was the primary reason I left my original company.  I was carrying him when the only main skilled fitter left and he was stopping me getting a better pay rate because my employer would have had to pay him the same when he wasn’t worth peanuts.  He passed his Class 1 and went driving tippers for them but he had no idea and I noticed that when I was approaching him from the opposite direction on the narrow A682 he was grabbing handfuls of nearside lock and obviously scared to death.  His fatal accident occurred whilst he was attempting to overtake the Giggleswick School tractor and low farm trailer at speed when it was turning right into the council tip.  His ERF B-Series RR265 with short tandem trailer struck the school tractor trailer with sufficient force to snap the drawbar off and jack-knifed throwing him out of the cab onto the road where he smashed his head on the kerb, other than that not a mark on him.  An avoidable mistake if you ran the route regular and worked out the difference and movements of both the yellow Giggleswick tractor and the more regular bigger blue paper mill tractor which  mostly turned left at that point although sometimes it turned right into the tip also, concise route learning is essential for safety.  The real intrigue of the accident was that my CB mate De-Coke was sat in the box at the front of the school trailer and thrown up into the air on impact only to land safely on his feet totally unscathed, one of the attending traffic officers asked him if he was a cat !

To end this post and although not strictly on topic its worth mentioning that when the school club was going a southbound goods train de-railed and totally demolished the level crossing signal box next door from where one of the club members helped out and again by luck the signalman escaped almost unscathed.  The train consisted of 12 ton box vans containing Scotch whisky and spuds which were strewn out on the track and the enterprising early bird locals had field day pilfering first the whisky before the police finally arrived and put a stop to it although they still let people help themselves to the spuds !

The Demise of the National Coal Board

I grew up with coal fires, it was fun to help out chopping wood for kindling and then the ritual of lighting of the fire itself.  There was a really good book all about coal mining in the library at my village primary school, my first introduction to understanding geology and one of the books that got me interested in reading about how the world worked.


My first encounter with a coal mine came through being friends with a boy who’s father worked at the local haulage contractor who occasionally would let us ride shotgun, in this case a load of limestone fill from the local quarry at Clitheroe to the then under construction M61 Blackrod by-pass,  thence to Bickershaw ( Leigh ) and a load of smalls back to Brockhall mental hospital.


The company my mate’s dad worked for went bust but I was hooked on riding around in wagons so when I was 13 I plucked up the courage to approach the other small haulage company in my village for trips out and was soon employed filling the wagons up with fuel and checking the engine oil every night after school.  I spent my entire school holidays riding around in wagons but very little carting coal as the rates were so poor, if we did cart coal it was usually part of a back load to cover fuel costs.  One case in point was when Tarmac Clitheroe  was supplying base course for the York by-pass, load back from Bullcliffe Wood at the top of the hill just off the M1 Horbury & Osset and load smalls for either Chadderton or Carrington power station ( Manchester ).  Bullcliffe Wood ( a drift mine ) only had a short 30 Ton weighbridge so if you went with an artic you had to drop the trailer twice.  Another coal run was Victoria ( near Trentham Gardens ) to Carrington, using the back roads and a through a single track low bridge under the canal, Bickershaw to Brockhall was also useful and the occasional trick was to leave about a ton in the box and bring it back to tip in the yard so everyone had access to free coal.


One coal inclusive run I went on stands out as at the time I was off school at 16 recovering from a broken upper right arm, run empty to Fleetwood docks to load Maize for Henry Whitehurst right in Bolton ( for the horse and cart market when it was founded )  town centre, where you had to block the whole main road to back which was fortunately one way.  It didn’t end there either, the shed wasn’t high enough to put the tipper up to its full extent so you had to pull out into the main road to tip the tipper to the top a couple of times, shovel out the last bit.  Thence a quick nip over Barton Bridge, through Urmston to Carrington PS load fly ash for Stockport A6 to Dove Holes cement works nr Buxton.  Thence over the top to a pit at Mansfield to load coal for the mill at Calder Vale near Garstang, empty back to the yard at Chatburn   A long hard day with a 180 Gardner with 28 tons stretching the then drivers hours regulations to their limit.


Then came my formal apprenticeship so the trips out almost dried up, I left the company when I was 21 passed my HGV Class 1 and went driving, then worked as a fitter building gritters before going to work in long distance haulage for a friend of mine from tech dad.  The Scargill Miners Strike was on at the time and after I did a multi drop trip around the South Wales valley’s and saw all the closed mines.   Its probable that a lot of them were totally uneconomic, an ex miner welsh valley guy who came to live in my village told tales of lying on his side in 18 inch seams.  During the strike I encountered a young miner from Rossington ( Doncaster ), he said they had three seams, two three foot and one six foot, but the three foot seams were more productive as they were on rock whereas the six foot seam was on clay and they had to keep stopping frequently to align the coal cutting machines.


Due to a change in the work and problems with my back I got a start back at my original employer driving artic tippers, mostly delivering concrete aggregates from the local quarries, grain and the coal mostly connected with the local cement works.  The Ribble Cement works was built at Clitheroe primarily because it was the nearest limestone to good coal, originally it was supplied by Hapton Valley near Burnley.  Hapton Valley closed so for a time they moved to Wooley north of Barnsley. then Holditch near Newcastle under Lyme with good road access onto the A500 to the north but also fitted in as a back load on the way back from delivering cement clinker to Pittstone nr Dunstable. The only snag was long queues waiting to load at Holditch mainly precipitated by strict NCB overloading rules, they would knock you back for two hundredweight ( 100kg ) and as soon as you opened the tailboard you lost at least half a ton.


The then Castle Cement would check weigh you in and out on delivery using two separate weighbridges and on a 25 ton load it was always the case that you lost 200kg somewhere however clean you swept the box out and my original train of thought was that they were ripping their customers off for cement. However, on further scrutiny it was apparent that the lost weight was due to gas lost from the coal in transit for an hour and a half having been loaded almost directly from the coal face at Holditch, when you took the sheet off it was wet on the inside just like someone had sprayed five gallons of paraffin over the load. The worst weighbridge fiddle I encountered was at the now closed Ashko animal feed mill, it was often the case that when you arrived with a load of wheat direct from the farm in the afternoon they would weigh you in with an empty fuel tank.   Then they would say it won’t fit into the silo and the usual practice was for the driver to drop the trailer and nip home in the tractor unit to return to tip first thing in the morning.   Most drivers simply hooked up and tipped then tared out with a full tank of diesel so Ashko got 100kg free, I got in bad with the management because I always insisted that the gross load was re-weighed, 


Holditch was part of the most productive day’s work I ever did with my trusty ERF B-Series steed DGR 728W and her exceptional Rolls-Royce 265L Eagle diesel.  5 am start at yard at Chatburn, empty to Swinden quarry almost at Grassington, load 20/5 limestone for Tilcon Horwich ( situated in the old railway works and supplying adjacent company then making sections for the lining of the channel tunnel ).  Empty to Tilcon Dock Acres Carnforth load 20/5 gravel for Tilcon ( Lovers Lane ) Atherton, Empty to Holditch load coal for Castle Cement Clitheroe ( nip back to depot for quick pit stop extra fuel just in case ) empty to Swinden quarry load limestone dust for and deliver RMC Blackburn, return to yard empty.  665km and everything went perfect just goes to show what you can achieve when everything goes to plan and you don’t get pissed about by Corporate-Nazis !


Holdich was closed and Castle Cement switched coal supplier to Potato Pot Pit a private open cast site inland from Whitehaven, then that was worked out and they started using Columbian coal imported via Liverpool docks, then Polish coal imported via Hull and meanwhile we were doing a lot of coal work for British Fuel via their Blackburn depot leading up to the John Major Pit closures.  Stepping back in time we once used to cart coal from Wooley to British Steel at Scunthorpe on the way to return with grain from Lincolnshire.  Wooley was a nightmare to get to by road unless you used the access off the M1 services like you could before plod clamped down, the main road access and weighbridge was in the middle of nowhere at the top of a steep hill.   The actual loading point ( and tipping off if over ) was right at the bottom of the internal road, when it was wet the road was dangerous with all the coal dust slime I actually witnessed an artic jack-knife when I was there loading one such day.  Silverdale was another nightmare to get to ( this time due to weight limits ) unless you technically unlawfully used Keel services on the M6, we once hauled coal from a nearby private open cast site to Rugeley power station on the way to collect grain from around Tamworth.


Getting back to the British Fuel work our company collected house coal from Grimethorpe for distribution to local coal merchants around Blackburn we also supplied their depots at Chadderton, Preston and Blackpool all railway connected, I’m glad I never went to Grimethorpe after hearing about long queues.  Daw Mill was the main supplier off M6 junction 4 and through Coleshill was a bit of a ball ache but it was good loading, singles and doubles to be small plastic bagged up at Gt Harwood to sell in shops and garages. NCB Stoke area operations were concentrated on Hem Heath located opposite the old Victoria Pit ( formerly known as Florence ) near Trentham Gardens and we delivered washed smalls from there to HM Garth Prison nr Leyland.


I did a load to Garth and whilst discharging into the hopper got talking to the manager.  It was all the latest 1970s technology and was originally supplied from nearby Bickershaw, they had tried imported coal but it set like concrete in the hopper and they had to get the prisoners to dig it all out.  He said every time they got a new contract with a British pit it closed soon after, Hem Heath was soon to follow but perhaps that was hardly surprising for the following reasons.  It would appear that Hem Heath’s primary function was to collect coal from all the surrounding small pits for grading and then distribution, to facilitate this they had a fleet of 24 ton ERF B-Series six wheel tippers fitted with a Rolls-Royce 220 engine and a steel body.  They would have been lucky to carry 14 Tons legally and when I got there at lunchtime they were all parked up finished for the day but I expect the reason it was done like this was because all the small pits still only had a short 30 Ton weighbridge like Bullcliffe Wood back in the 1970s . By the 1990s electronic weighbridges were cheap and perhaps installing one at all the mines could have made them economic and prolonged their working life ?


The fact is that most of the coal being imported into the UK in the 1990s was rubbish, so bad in fact that the Liverpool dockers couldn’t be bothered to pilfer it, I got the same answer at Hull and dotted around the country were sites where good quality British coal was blended with the imported stuff.  One load I did was to take the “slack ” screenings from British Fuel at Blackburn to be blended at a site near Bolsover, in another case I took coal from a private drift mine nr Wigan to be blended at a site near Telford, an obvious increase transport cost scam.  Back in the 1980s we took coal direct to the power station from small opencast sites like Little Hullton ( Walkden ) to Padiham, Ellerbeck ( Adlington ) to Padiham, then Padiham was told it had to burn toxic Orimulsion so big local protest and then it closed.  Then it was Ellerbeck to Bickershaw to load on the train for Fiddler’s Ferry Warrington, Bickershaw closed so then it was Ellerbeck to Parkside and on the train to Fiddler’s Ferry from there.   The fact that it would have been cheaper and more efficient to take the coal direct to Fiddler’s Ferry never came into it, Agecroft sent coal there by road just before it closed in 1985.


It was economically criminal to close modern Parkside when it had a new nine foot seam fully developed and ready to roll but perhaps the private sector the government was expecting to buy the then British Coal were wary of subsidence claims when almost the whole of the south Lancashire coal field is hollow to some extent.  Just prior to closure Parkside was subjected to the indignity of becoming a transfer depot for house coal from other British pits, the last load I ever did before I decided to throw the towel in on Wagon driving due to my back was Trent Washery Trebles from Parkside back to a local coal merchant at Clitheroe.  I told the coal merchant that I had picked up the load at Parkside and he freaked out ” that’s no good I’ll end up with loads of slack “, I explained that in fact the load had originated at Clipstone in Nottinghamshire but I suspect that Parkside were billed with the cost of the Ton of slack screened out when I was loaded there.  I once did a load of cobbles from Clipstone to Garston docks en route to Northern Ireland, lumps of fool’s gold glinting ( Iron Sulphide ) and no wonder Ulster was said to have the highest levels of pollution anywhere in the UK.


Now with the underground fire closing Daw Mill British Coal is insolvent with no prospect of a buyer for its other two deep mines in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire due to the Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming fraud, are we at the end of the UK coal industry Arthur Scargill foresaw ?