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Fiddlestick

Old time lorry driving over Woodhead Pass near Sheffield

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Fiddlestick

I'm going back to the late 60's, early 70's here. Young-uns please note 'Lorries' (or 'Wagons') not 'Trucks' .

The Woodhead Pass has seen many dramas over the years, a good few vehicles of all types, but mainly lorries, have gone over the steep side to their doom with many fatalities. The long-time rusting chassis of an eight wheeler ( 'eight legger ') could be clearly seen 60 foot down the drop until a few years ago.

Returning from the Manchester side of the Pennines, before the M67 ( 'Motorway to Nowhere' ) was built, I would normally take the Mottram road up from Hyde rather than the Stalybridge road. On the way up Mottram Road there is a farm on the left, opposite the Hattersley council estate of Hindley and Brady notoriety. This farm was hit by a German V1 Flying Bomb in the war, one of a few launched from under the wings of Heinkel 111's over the North Sea from bases in Norway. At the top of that hill, by the Mottram cross roads and traffic lights, were two more things of interest; one was L.S.Lowry's house off to the left, the other was the amusing old cast sign on a facing wall, which is still there, pointing to the right and reading 'Broadbottom 1x1/2 miles '

Leaving those Mottram lights, you'd go down the hill ( Mottram Moor ) to the traffic light junction just before Hollingworth, where you'd have the choice of either turning right and returning over the Snake, or going straight ahead via the Woodhead ; few lorries chose the Snake due to its narrow twists and bends ( The origin of the 'Snake' name isn't what we thought either, see 'Snake Pass' on Wikipedia. ). Just to the left of these lights, by the Gun Inn, was a narrow lane with old cottages, in one lived Pat Phoenix, 'Elsie Tanner' of Coronation Street fame ( when it was worth watching !).

Passing through Hollingworth to Tintwistle ( 'Tinsle' to the locals ), there used to be a shop-cum-transport cafe on the left , difficult parking, but a good 'caff '. I forget the old chap's name now, he was a big angling fan and was said to be 'living over the brush' with his lady who served at table. Continuing forward you would see the Woodhead electrics passing on the other side of the reservoirs, then climb on into the wind-swept wilds of the pass. No mobile phones back then, just a lone phone box in an emergency. 

Back in those days there was nothing like the amount of traffic which uses the route today, and so it was full steam home after leaving the built-up areas, unless.....   unless you happened to get behind the two grey 8 wheeler ESC ( English Steel Corporation ) lorries which did two trips a day from ESC Hawke Street over to the ESC in Openshaw, Manchester. They were known for driving slowly, nose-to-tail all the way making it highly dangerous to attempt to overtake both on the narrow Pass. Nothing ahead of them as they crawled along, but a half mile of cursing drivers behind them. Given that your driving and rest hours had to be strictly adhered to, should you have just a short time left to get home, this could get you fined if you risked going over your hours.

At the summit of the Pass there is a sign for ' The Pennine Way' ramblers' track which passes many aircraft wrecks, hell of a lot if you check up.

Then, just before the Flouch junction, there was a shack-type cafe on the left which is still talked about today due to the eccentric owner. He had a sign outside reading ' No coaches, No Hikers No ....'.this that and the other, in fact everyone who he should be catering for.

My steed was a too-modern-for-me 'Ergonomic' tilt-cab, Albion Clydesdale, I just missed the pre-motorways old timers which were far more interesting despite their draughty cabs, lack of heaters, crash gearboxes, no radios, no GPS etc..Most in those days, including BRS, had mates to help with loading / unloading, sheeting etc., but I did get over to Belgium once a fortnight on the BR ferries from Harwich to Zeebrugge. The four ferries in the fleet were named 'Norfolk'. 'Suffolk', 'Essex' and the newer 'Cambridge Ferry' which incidentally, in early 1970, carried the Woodhead electrics sold to the Dutch railways. All have long since been scrapped of course.      

I'll leave it there, hoping to attract more reminiscences ( or corrections !) from others who enjoyed the freedom of the road and being paid to see the splendours of Britain.......... and there were more than a few professional types who gave up their stressful and better paid careers for a life on the road !  Thanks.
 

 

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Gordon crapper

Very interesting, thanks for posting

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Fiddlestick

Thanks Gordon, will view your posts, especially trams.

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lysander

And, of course not too long ago( well to someone who was around then) some lorries had a speed restriction of 20mph.

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Voldy

Yes lysander, it wasn't until 1957 that the speed limit for heavy lorries was raised to 30mph. Since then there have been many amendments to speed limits and even at the present time heavy lorry speed limits in Scotland (non-motorways) are lower than those in England and Wales. I knew an ex-Haulage Company Manager who used to talk about how keen some Police, were back in the 50's, to enforce the 20mph limit!  Perhaps the ESC 8-wheelers Fiddlestick mentions were designed to a 50's specification.

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Waterside Echo

Back in the 60s we would get called out to repair lorries mainly on the A1 [Tower Hill Transport usually] and Woodhead, Joe Emmens and Joe Wright rings a bell. What fascinated me on Woodhead was the site of newer trucks now and again giving certain old heavily loaded trucks a helping push up the steep inclines. A certain driver of a Peter Slater wagon was a dab hand at this.  W/E.

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