Emergency tunnel escape
refuges used for first time
Photos and report with thanks
to Mersey Travel.
were on Friday, 18 May 2007, safe and well after being the first to
use the new emergency refuges inside the Queensway Tunnel after a
car caught fire.
The tunnel police control room spotted the car, a red Saab 900
travelling from Liverpool to Birkenhead, cruising to a stop inside
the Queensway tunnel, they called the emergency services and
despatched a patrol.
Shortly after the patrol arrived sparks were spotted under the car
and the engine caught fire.
The driver of the damaged vehicle, Brian Woods, and his wife Fiona
of Burscough, Orsmskirk, used the emergency phone and were guided
into the escape refuge entrance just as the fire brigade arrived to
tackle the blaze.
“It was instant. Before we knew it the fire brigade were tackling
the fire and we were safe in the refuges, including a lady
travelling behind us who was on crutches. There were five of us in
Everything went so quickly but it seemed that people knew what to
do. We walked down the ramp, into the refuge and the lights came on
and there was water for us to drink. We were talking to the control
room over a two-way TV and they were giving us advice and letting us
know what was going on. Then we were guided out and bought safely
back to the surface.”
Brian and Fiona were on their way to Amsterdam. Brian added:-
“These refuges are a very, very good idea. They certainly worked
well for us. We’re both shocked and upset about the car, but we’re
just happy to be safe.”
No one was injured in the incident, which started just after 2pm.
Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel
said:- “We are just pleased everything worked and everyone is
safe and well.
Safety is always top priority for us. The emergency refuges were
there to serve a purpose and they have worked. We are totally
committed to improving escape provisions to meet the highest modern
The Mersey Tunnels have an extremely good safety record and we are
spending some £32 million upgrading and improving them to ensure we
maintain this record.”
The Queensway Tunnel was re-opened at 3.45pm, following an
assessment of the road deck, removal of the car and some clear up
The £9 million escape chambers, completed in November 2005, brings
escape provision within the Queensway (Liverpool – Birkenhead)
Tunnel in line with the highest European specifications.
The project comprises seven emergency refuges capable of
accommodating up to 180 people in bright and airy conditions. Each
refuge is equipped with two-way CCTV communication with the Tunnel
The seven refuges are approximately 2.3 metres high, 21 metres long
and three metres wide. They are spaced about 180 metres apart with
entry via two fire resistant doors on the tunnel verge, which lead
to a ramp down to the refuge suitable for wheel-chair users.
A supply of bottled water and an accessible toilet is provided in
each refuge together with some seating and all seven are linked by
walkways under the road surface.
In the event of an emergency, motorists are directed to the nearest
refuge through a public address system while flashing arrows
illuminates the entrances and directional noise beacons guide people
to the doors.
The refuges are designed to accommodate people for a period of time
until staff from the tunnel operator or the emergency services
arrive to escort them to the surface or back to their vehicles.
The 2.23-mile Queensway Tunnel was opened in 1934 and is the longest
tunnelled estuarial road crossing in the UK. It carries over 11
million vehicles a year.
Traffic Gridlock In City Centre
chaos hit Liverpool after a fire in a disused engineering
works on the junction of Low Hill and Brunswick Road on the evening
of 13 May 2007.
This lead to the centre of Liverpool
having a danger zone being placed around the area as fire crews
tacked the fire. The zone was extended later that night and last
week on the Monday (14 May 2007) as four acetylene cylinders where
found and had to be cool off before being removed.
This extended area then lead to the full
closures along major routes into the city centre as Merseyside
Police alongside Liverpool City Council and Enterprise traffic
management battled to keep the rush hour traffic flowing around the
A5049 West Derby Road junctions. The building was later made safe
and a joint Fire Service and Police investigation into the causes is
JOHN LENNON NORTHERN LIGHTS FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED
Britain's greatest artists are to travel to a tiny highland village
to pay homage to John Lennon in what will be one of the most
extraordinary festivals ever to be staged in the country.
The John Lennon Northern Lights Festival has been endorsed by and
will also be attended by several members of the ex-Beatle's family -
including his sister Julia Baird.
The three-day festival is being held in Durness, the most north
westerly and remote village on mainland Britain, which has a
population of just 356.
"John really loved Durness and would be very pleased that his
influence was being celebrated with this festival.
I am delighted to be involved in what is a high quality event which
has taste and respect at its core. We are all looking forward very
much to coming again to a place that meant so much to my brother."
said Ms Baird, who will be taking part in the festival.
Tickets for the festival, which is being promoted by North Highland
Tourism, was released Satuday 19 May 2007 on
Durness was an area that greatly inspired Lennon - he spent his
childhood holidays between the ages of 9 and 13 in the village -
returned with his son Julian, wife Yoko Ono, and her daughter Kyoko
Lennon also asked relatives shortly before his death in 1980 to try
and buy Durness! The village is also said to be part of the
inspiration for the seminal song In My Life.
Now The John Lennon Northern Lights Festival will be officially
highlighted today (Sat, May 19) by the acclaimed Liverpool
playwright Alan Bleasdale, who created the iconic tv series The Boys
from the Blackstuff.
Mr Bleasdale will make only his fourth public appearance in the last
15 years to travel to Durness to work with local writers based in
the North Highlands.
"Having held The Beatles in considerable awe most of my life,
especially John Lennon, I am really delighted with this festival,
especially knowing John's connections with the highlands."
said Mr Bleasdale.
The announcement has been timed ahead of next month's 50th
anniversary of Lennon's first public appearance and the 40th
anniversary of the iconic Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Despite its remote location, over the last three months some of the
country's top artists have committed to coming to Durness and
villagers sworn to secrecy - until the big day that was held on 19
And festival organisers are promising even more surprise
"major" announcements between now and the festival which
will be held between 28 September 2007 and 30 September 2007.
But festival director Mike Merritt confirmed that Sir Peter Maxwell
Davies, the Queen's Master of Music, will lead lead the classical
programme and present a world premiere of a Beatles Prom with the
Royal Academy of Music, supported by the quartet Eclipse.
One of Scotland's rising singing stars, Julie Fowlis - who last year
won Radio 2 newcomer of the year and is hailed by Sir Bob Geldof and
Ricky Gervais among others - and Blazin Fiddles are part of the
traditional music section.
Chart toppers Nizlopi, who had the number one hit The JCB Song, the
brilliant King Creosote and Mr Hudson and The Library - one of the
hottest new bands around - are among the contemporary acts.
Up and coming bands from Scotland, Merseyside and elsewhere will
play from noon to midnight in one of the festival's ten venues -
while Britain's only mobile cinema, Screen Machine will feature
Some of the country's leading poets including Carol Ann Duffy -
described as "Britain's greatest living poet" - rising
Scottish star Kevin MacNeil, Michael Horovitz, one of the last
legendary Beat poets left who knew John Lennon - and the outrageous
punk poet John Cooper Clarke, who inspired The Arctic Monkeys, will
all be taking part.
One of Britain's leading painters Peter Howson - the official war
artist in Bosnia - will stage an exhibition of Lennon with Frank
McFadden, rated Scotland's best young painter.
The Jazz programme on Sunday, 30 September 2007, will also feature
two of the country's top performers in Joe Stilgoe and Todd Gordon.
The writer and poet Alastair McIntosh, who has inspired Radiohead's
Thom Yorke among others, is also taking part. He will also be
rapping with Nizlopi in Britain's biggest sea cave, Smoo Cave.
Authors include Beatles' expert Steve Turner - who is also a
well-known children's poet - and has sold over 1 million books.
John's oldest surviving relative, Stan Parkes - who shared his
holidays with his famous cousin in Durness - will be taking part, as
will other members of his family. In an unique event members of the
public will be able to ask Ms Baird and her relatives all about
their times with John.
Even the festival's shuttle bus will be driven by Iris Mackay, one
of John's old Durness play pals - who will tell passengers about her
times with John as she transports festival goers!
Many more artists will be revealed over the next few weeks.
"John would be both delighted and surprised that he had inspired
such a great festival in a part of the world he loved." said
"This is not about exploiting his fame, it is about
celebrating his inspiration - and that is why so many leading
artists and John's family have supported and endorsed the event.
John was more than a musician - he loved painting, drawing and
writing in Durness and that is also well reflected in the festival's
arts. Few places meant more to John than Durness. It was often when
he was at his happiest.
The residents of Durness also hugely welcomed the festival - which
has been financed by HIE Caithness and Sutherland - and hoped it
would become an annual event.
The Durness community will make every effort to give a real highland
welcome to the many visitors that are expected, and will offer
whatever help and assistance is required to make the event a roaring
success and hope that it will become the first of many."
said Mary Mackay, chairperson of Durness Community Council.
The only permanent memorial to John Lennon in Scotland is in Durness
in the form of a memorial garden - and the village also has a
bookshop which has just published a novel based on John's links to
the area. Its author, the politician Michael Russell is also
appearing at the festival.