Liverpool's engineering masterpiece to be honoured
AT its time,
it was an engineering feat without parallel – financially it was the
biggest single municipal enterprise ever undertaken in Britain.
75 years have gone by and the Queensway Tunnel, linking Liverpool
and Wirral, has stood the test of time – as the safest tunnel of its
age in Europe.
On Wednesday 18 July 1934, more than 200,000 people gathered at the
Old Haymarket in Liverpool city centre to watch King George V and
Queen Mary officially open the Queensway Tunnel (Note: see BBC web
link at the end of this news release). In Easter of 1934, just
before being opened, almost 80,000 took the chance to walk through
the tunnel, paying 6d each – all of which went to charity.
And 75 years on, it will close to traffic and open for one last
public viewing for many years. Around 20,000 people are
expected to celebrate the Queensway’s 75th anniversary by walking
through it – and again raise money for charity .
Under and Over the Mersey takes place on Sunday 19 July 2009 and it
is expected to raise 10's of thousands of pounds for Claire House
children’s hospice in Wirral, Merseyside – supporting children with
life-limiting conditions. It is Merseytravel’s corporate charity for
2009. The event, which will be accessible to everyone, will be
hosted by Keith Chegwin and includes a full programme of
entertainment for all the family as well as a trip back over the
river on the Mersey Ferries – also owned and operated by
Merseytravel. Celebrities will count down the 5 planned
walkthrough processions and crowds will be entertained with vintage
cars, carnival rides, musical entertainment and dramatic circus
performances. Everyone taking part is being encouraged to
support their own worthwhile charities if they would like to,
whether in fancy dress or through their own sponsorship.
Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, launched the event. He
said:- “We want people to enjoy the day and make it one to
remember. The event will be something to tell children and
grandchildren about because we are not expecting to do this again
for many years.”
Under and Over the Mersey will give walkers an intriguing trip back
through time. It will capture the 75-year history of the Mersey
Tunnel by transporting people back in time to a 1930’s carnival
atmosphere. After the walk through the tunnel, everyone taking
part can then sail back to Liverpool on a Mersey Ferry – with all
three boats on the River for the day. Everyone taking part
will also receive a medal to commemorate the day and celebrate their
Neil Scales added:- “This is the legacy of a special event
held last year to celebrate European Capital of Culture. We’re
making it even better this year and we hope that thousands of people
will come along, take part, enjoy themselves and help raise some
money for some truly fantastic causes that are close to their
hearts. This year we are planning something special to
celebrate a milestone in the history of the tunnel; at its time, the
largest underwater road tunnel in the world. Seventy-five years on
it is still an amazing feat of engineering and we’ll be bringing
some of that history back to life.”
Also on the day veterans who helped
build the Queensway Tunnel will be guests of honour.
Jack Green and Victor Chinn, who have a
combined age of 195 years, will also be meeting for the first time
although they both worked underground at the same time.
Jack (96) helped load the wagons with rock from the tunnel face and
Victor – who is 100 next month (August) was on the train that pulled
the rock to the surface.
They live 200 miles apart but their lives are similar.
Both are still active and live in bungalows with daughters who pop
in to keep an eye on them. And both are looking forward to meeting
each other on the walk-through.
Jack Green, who is 96 years old and thinks nothing of walking half a
mile to meet his mates in the village pub, lives in Moulton,
Looking back on his three years working on the Queensway Tunnel Jack
said:- “I was only 16 at the time and I lied about my age to
get the job but nobody questioned me. That was probably because my
Dad was also Clerk of the Works on the job. He travelled round the
country working on different tunnels. My job was to load up the
smaller rocks that had been blasted from the tunnel face into the
underground train. Then the gang with the jackhammers would move in
to break up the big stuff. I had three brothers also working on the
Queensway. They called the Queensway the Allotment because there
were so many Greens working there. I came from a family of
tunnellers, I’d previously worked on the Piccadilly underground line
in London but the Queensway was different. It was frightening at
first – and you were wet all the time. You put your work clothes in
a drying locker at night and put them on wet again in the morning.
We worked a 12 hour shift for about £2 a week which was better money
than working in a factory but it was very hard work. And it could be
dangerous. There was a man called the 'powder monkey' who set the
gelignite in the rock face. He lit the fuses and then we’d all run
for cover to count the blasts. If one charge hadn’t gone off someone
had to go back to the face to see why – and sometimes it would
explode while they were there. There were several injuries at the
Victor, who lives in Stockbridge village, Liverpool, worked on the
Queensway for a year. He said:- “The thing I remember most was
the water underground. It always seemed to be raining down there.
They gave us capes to wear but we had to buy our own souwesters –
they cost half a crown (25p) from Murphy’s pawn shop in Birkenhead.
I remember the explosions at the tunnel face. One lad had to give up
his job because it brought back terrible memories of the First World
War. He couldn’t stop shaking. I also remember when there was the
big underground ceremony attended by the Lord Mayors of Liverpool
and Birkenhead. We got a £1 bonus – which was a fortune to us – and
a certificate which I’ve lost over the years. It’ll be great to join
Under and Over the Mersey and meet someone else who’s had the same
experience as me.”
After working on the Queensway Victor went back to his first love –
the sea. He spent winter months sailing the world as a merchant
seaman with Clan Line and Blue Funnel – and summers working on
His love of the sea continued after his retirement. In fact Victor
only gave up taking cruise holidays two years ago.
Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel, said:- ”We’re
honoured to have these two gentlemen join us for the walk through.
It’s going to be even bigger and better than last year’s event which
was our contribution to the Capital of Culture celebrations. This
time we again want people to really enjoy the day but we’d also like
everyone taking part to use it as an opportunity to raise money for
their favourite charity. Merseytravel is donating money raised
through ticket sales from “Under and Over the Mersey” 2009 to Claire
House children’s hospice in Wirral, which is our corporate charity
for 2009. And we’d like to see as many walkers as possible to get
out their fancy dress and sponsorship forms for their own favourite
charity. Under and Over the Mersey 2009 will probably be the last
chance for such a unique view of this engineering masterpiece for
many a year so we’re making the walk even bigger and better, more
colourful and just as memorable.”
Single tickets are £5 and family tickets (2 adults and 2 children)
are £15. Walks are timed at 10.30am, 11.15am, 12 noon, 12.45pm
or 1.30pm and everyone taking part can choose the time that suits
them best. People can buy tickets at any Merseytravel Centre.
For more information about the event, call the information line on
0151 330 1702.
History of the Queensway Tunnel
In 1922, Sir Archibald Salvidge proposed a report to Liverpool City
Council to enquire into the possibility of either a tunnel or bridge
to improve traffic across the River Mersey.
The option of a bridge was strongly rejected due to the threat of an
outbreak of war and fears it could be an easy target for enemy
bombers. It was reported that a double-deck road tunnel would cost
less to construct and offer considerable economy in maintenance.
On 8 August 1925, a Private Bill authorised the project, and the
setting up of the Mersey Tunnel Joint Committee.
On 16 December 1925, HRH Princess Mary (later the Princess Royal)
switched on the power to the pneumatic drills and work began.
Working from both sides of the river, when the 2 tunnels met
mid-river there was a divergence of less than 1 inch.
Working conditions were grim as 1,200,000 tons of rock and gravel
were excavated. This was replaced with 82,000 tons of cast iron and
270,000 tons of concrete. The tunnel cost £8 million to
construct, employed 1,700 men, and at the time it was the biggest
single municipal enterprise undertaken in Britain. The main
tunnel is 44 feet in diameter, and carries 4 lanes of traffic for
just over two miles between Liverpool and Birkenhead, with a branch
tunnel exit at Liverpool Docks.
See the official opening on 18 July 1934 on the BBC
STATEMENT ABOUT JAGUAR HALEWOOD JOB LOSSES
political leaders have called for an urgent and effective response
following today’s announcement by Jaguar that they are ceasing
production of the X-type at Halewood with the loss of around 300
The leader of the council and leader of the opposition are backing
workforce demands that the new greener-LRX model be built at
They say everything possible must be done to secure car making jobs
at Halewood and to retain the manufacturing skills of the workforce
which are essential to the future prosperity of the city-region.
Council leader Warren Bradley said:- “We will be doing all we
can to help retain the maximum number of car making jobs on
Merseyside. We will be supporting the management at the plant to
help secure production of the new green LRX vehicle at Halewood
which would give the site a long term future. It’s absolutely
crucial that Lord Mandelson acts quickly and offers the financial
support necessary to help the firm through the recession. It is not
only the jobs of the workforce that are at risk, but also those at
companies in the supply chain who manufacture components for the
plant. It is vital we retain the skills of the workforce. The city
council will also be working with businesses and the Learning and
Skills Council to develop new opportunities for so that these skills
are not lost to future generations, and which are so essential to
the future prosperity of the Liverpool city region."
Councillor Joe Anderson, leader of the Opposition, said:- “The
Jaguar Land Rover factory is a massive success story for the
Liverpool city region. The workforce is a huge asset and produce
world class vehicles which are of the highest quality. This is an
extremely worrying time for the workforce and their families and we
owe it to them to do everything we can to secure its long term
future. It is vital that the whole region pulls together to offer
whatever assistance and support we can to help the staff and firm
through these tough economic times.”
UNEMPLOYED IS OUR PRIORITY
unemployment continues to rise, but the help people are getting is
working - as latest figures show that the number of people coming
off Jobseeker’s Allowance is the highest in over a decade.
New figures out from the Office for National Statistics today show
that while unemployment has risen, the number of new claims being
made for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) has fallen for the third month
in a row and the rise in JSA is the smallest for a year. DWP also
published statistics today showing that numbers on inactive
benefits, such as incapacity benefits, remain stable.
Employment Minister Jim Knight said:- “Today’s figures show
that many in the UK are suffering the effects of the global
recession. But there are signs that our actions to help the
unemployed are starting to work. We have a lower unemployment rate
than the United States, Germany and France. Through investing now in
more staff, more training and working with local employers, fewer
people are getting stuck on benefits for months and years. The
active welfare state is working. People aren’t being dumped on
inactive benefits like incapacity benefit, and unemployment is
nearly half a million less than it would have been without the
Government’s response. This summer our priority must be young people
leaving education. While people of all ages have suffered in this
recession, the Government recognises that unemployment for young
people can adversely affect the rest of their working lives. We are
therefore taking action to ensure that young people get as much help
as possible to gain the vital experience and confidence they need to
compete in today’s labour market. We won’t abandon an entire
generation of young people to long-term unemployment.”
This September all 16 and 17 year olds are guaranteed a place in
school or college. We are creating 35,000 extra apprentice places.
Through the Future Jobs Fund, we are creating an average of 10,000
new jobs for young people in every region of the country, and from
next year every 18-24 year old at risk of being unemployed for more
than a year will have a guarantee of a job, training or the
opportunity to gain valuable skills through work experience.
In addition to the help people will receive through the Future Jobs
Fund, the Government recently announced changes to Jobseeker’s
Allowance, meaning that graduates who have been claiming for six
months or more will be able to do an internship for up to 13 weeks
alongside claiming benefit and looking for work.
Children of the Revolution!
city centre school has start its very own French Revolution on,
Tuesday, 14 July 2009. Tuesday was Bastille Day, and children at Holy Cross Catholic
Primary School are marking the occasion by bringing the cultural
heart of France to Liverpool.
In a special event open to all parents, pupils serving up a
real taste of French life. Helped by local businesses, they created a French market and café, and treated visitors to
traditional food, from French onion soup to crepes.
Artistic youngsters tried their hand at French street art and
portrait painting, that was not forgetting the chance for everyone to play
a game of boules and watch a can-can dancing demonstration by local
Budding directors tried their hand at French film-making, while
young journalists deliver news reports on the storming of the
And for the ‘piece de resistance’, pupils re-enacting
moments from the French Revolution!
Pupils at the school start learning French from reception age, and
they where encouraged to speak the language as much as possible
throughout the day.
The spectacular event formed part of Holy Cross’ French-themed week,
which will see pupils learning all about French history, geography
Headteacher at the school, Angela Holleran, said:- “We know
how important learning a modern foreign language from a young age
is, in terms of broadening pupils’ horizons, improving their life
chances and boosting their future employability. Our young people
love learning French and I’m delighted they will be able to showcase
their passion for the language and culture of France through this
As well as marking this significant date for France, our celebration
has given our pupils the chance to get creative, use their
imaginations and learn all about a fascinating period in French
history. I’m sure it will be an unforgettable day.”
Pupils and staff at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School currently
have another reason to celebrate, because the school has just
received a glowing report from OFSTED.
The school has been rated ‘outstanding’ by the education watchdog,
achieving the top score (grade 1) in 35 out of the 37 inspection
In its report, OFSTED says the school provides ‘an outstanding
education’ with an ‘outstanding curriculum’ and ‘dynamic
Inspectors praised the school for giving pupils ‘first hand
experiences of other cultures, beliefs and religions’ to
them well for life in a diverse world.’ The report highlights the
teaching of French throughout the school which sees pupils ‘quickly
become fluent in the speaking and understanding’ of the language.
The report also praises ‘outstanding pastoral care’ and
child-led and challenging teaching’ which is helping pupils make
Holy Cross has 127 pupils, aged three to 11. It serves an area of
high social and economic disadvantage.
Liverpool City Council’s executive member for education, Councillor
Keith Turner, said:- “Staff at Holy Cross School do a
wonderful job in helping young people reach their full potential,
and their recent OFSTED report is well deserved.
This Bastille event is a fantastic example of the varied and diverse
curriculum which is delivered at the school, and the way it engages
and excites pupils. I’m sure the young people’s French revolution
will be truly spectacular!”
Did you know?
Bastille Day is the French national holiday, celebrated on 14 July
each year - commemorating the storming of the Bastille fortress
prison during the French Revolution in 1789.
Must Change to allow UK Government to Support Pubs
Campaign for Real Ale, has announced it will be writing to MPs to
urge them to support a groundbreaking new campaign to persuade the
European Union to amend existing rules preventing the UK Government
supporting pubs by introducing a lower rate of beer duty for draught
beer sold in pubs. John Grogan MP, Chairman of the influential
Parliamentary Beer Group, is leading the campaign and has today
tabled a Parliamentary Motion calling on the UK Government to seek a
change to European Union rules. A reduced rate of duty on beer sold
in pubs would help alleviate the severe problems facing UK pubs,
which are closing at a rate of more than six a day. The
European Commission has indicated that it is willing to consider
changes to current European Union rules and a review process is
expected later this year. Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive,
said:- "A lower rate of duty on draught beer sold in pubs
would represent a golden opportunity for the Government to address
the disparity between supermarket and pub prices, a problem directly
associated with pub closures. This proposal would encourage a shift
in alcohol consumption back to the regulated environment offered by
well-run community pubs. This proposal would also stem the loss of
community pubs and thereby reverse the decline of community life.
CAMRA first raised the need for a lower rate of duty in pubs in a
submission to the Parliamentary Beer Group’s Community Pub Inquiry
back in 2006, and we are delighted that this novel idea has the full
backing of the influential Parliamentary Beer Group. An average pint
of beer sold in the pub causes the consumer to swallow around 90
pence per pint in beer duty, VAT and employment tax revenue, and if
community pubs are to survive, then the excessive tax burden they
face must be reduced."