Visit: U-534: Preserved Wreck of a German WW2 Submarine

Wreck of Germany WW2 U-boat U-534 at Birkenhead Docks awaiting restoration.(Image: Paul Adams. U-534 while stored at Birkenhead Docks)

Only a handful of World War Two German submarines survive today and U-534 makes for a rare attraction, preserved in sections at the Woodside Ferry Terminal on Merseyside. Before that, her rusting hull cut an impressive and ominous form at Birkenhead Docks on the Wirral.

(Image: Nigel Cox)

Entering service with Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine in 1942, U-534 was built in Hamburg by the Deutsche Werft shipbuilding company. The 251-foot-long Type IXC/40 vessel, which could reach a maximum speed of 18.3 knots on the surface and 7.3 knots submerged, was commissioned in December of that year and captained by Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Nollau.

Salvaged U-534 submarine preserved at Woodside Ferry Terminal(Image: Chris Allen. Salvaged submarine preserved at Woodside Ferry Terminal)

Despite the terror of the Second World War U-boat scourge, U-534 sank no allied ships herself, and was instead used primarily for training duties. In that role she tested the new “Zaunkönig” G7es (T5) acoustic torpedo. The vessel was later redesigned, her main gun removed and a flak gun fitted in its place.

The U-boat wreck prior to restoration(Image: David Bagshaw. The U-boat wreck prior to restoration)

Her patrols finally came to an end on May 5, 1945 when U-534 was attacked by two Consolidated B-24 Liberator anti-submarine bombers of RAF Coastal Command. The aircraft, operating out of Tain and Leuchars in Scotland, attacked the U-boat with depths charges, who returned fire and managed to down one of the aircraft.

(Image: Goeff3Cae)

But a direct hit scored by the second Liberator (G/86 George) caused U-534 to slip beneath the waves. Her 52 man crew all escaped the striken sub, though three men were killed in the aftermath. The radio operator, 17-year-old Josef Neudorfer, escaped through the forward torpedo hatch but didn’t exhale as he swam for the surface, causing fatal damage to his lungs. Two other men died from exposure before help came, though four crew members who had been trapped along with Neudorfer survived the 220 foot ascent.

(Image: Chris Howells)

The wreck of U-534 would remain quietly on the seabed for the next 41 years, a haunting a tragic reminder of that terrible conflict. But in 1986 the submerged Type IXC/40 submarine was found by Danish wreck hunter Aage Jensen and salvaged amid the now familiar rumours of legendary Nazi gold.

(Image: PentneySam)

Raised in 1993, U-534 was transported to Merseyside found a new home among the collection of the Warship Preservation Trust at Birkenhead Docks on the Wirral Peninsula in Northwest England. She was later bought by Merseytravel and transported to the Woodside Ferry Terminal. Due to financial constraints the submarine wreck had to be cut into five large sections, in a month-long process using a diamond wire cutter.

(Image: Gleamhound)

U-534 now forms the centrepiece of the U-boat Story. Two of the sections were rejoined, but the others remain separate, allowing visitors a glimpse of the internal workings and the cramped, claustrophobic world of a wartime submarine.

Read Next: Abandoned Warships: 10 Decaying Aircraft Carriers, Submarines & Other Military Vessels

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Relic of Lost Railway Swing Bridge Over Caldon Canal

Remains of an abandoned railway swing bridge in the Caldon Canal.(Image: Roger Kidd. Abandoned swing bridge relic in Caldon Canal)

At Stanley Moss, near the village of Endon in the Staffordshire Moorlands district, sits this curious man-made island in the middle of the Caldon Canal. According to photographer Roger Kidd, the “island” once supported a swing bridge that carried a light railway across the waterway, to meet the (now equally defunct) Stoke-on-Trent to Leek line near the edge of the canal tow path. Wading across a mucky canal near Doles Bridge may not be an appealing prospect for most, but a yellow warning symbol has nevertheless been placed on the old support to ward off potential visitors – just in case.

Looking down on the Caldon Canal in Staffordshire. The disused Stoke-Leek railway line is to the left.(Image: Google Earth. The man-made island seen from above)

The Caldon Branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal opened in 1779 between the Stoke suburb of Etruria to Froghall, in Staffordshire. The waterway runs for 18 miles through 17 locks and the 119-metre-long Leek Tunnel.

The The Stoke-on-Trent to Leek line was originally part of the North Staffordshire Railway which was built during the Victorian era. The route remained open to freight traffic until 1988 and was later mothballed. Railway enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that proposals for the line’s reopening have been made.

Related: 10 Haunting Abandoned Bridges and Viaducts to Nowhere

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Curious Public Art in Swindon, Wiltshire

A curious art installation in Swindon, South West England.(Image: Neil Owen. A curious art installation in Swindon, South West England)

“It used to be blue,” writes photographer Neil Owen about this intriguing cylindrical structure in the heart of Swindon, Wiltshire. Owen adds: “Now it’s a rather unexpected Aztec/Inca theme? Still can’t work out what it is for.”

The enigmatic structure is situated on a pedestrianised side street just off Regent Circus near the Museum of Computing. Check it out on Google Earth here. An image on Street View (below) shows the artwork to be in a similar condition to the photograph above, albeit with more red paint splashed across its surface.

Related: 10 Clever Examples of Urban Interventionism

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Bulcamp Oddity: An Unusual Roadside Structure in Suffolk

The so-called Bulcamp Oddity in Suffolk(Image: Adrian Cable. The so-called Bulcamp Oddity in Suffolk)

Situated at the side of the A145 road, between the Suffolk villages of Blythburgh and Bulcamp, stands an unusual structure whose original purpose has been lost to time. Known as the Bulcamp Oddity, the structure looks like a roadside shelter of some sort, though unusually decorative and dating to an era well before buses.

(Image: Adrian Cable. Is the structure unusually grand for a shelter?)

Several theories have emerged regarding the history and purpose of the so-called Bulcamp Oddity, which is set into an embankment on the east side of the A145. Thought to date to the mid-1800s, the shelter may have been associated with a toll gate on the old turnpike road on which it stands.

Writing on the Blythweb Group website, Eileen Heaps suggests a possible association with the now-demolished Turnpike Cottages that once stood nearby. The author also speculates that the structure may occupy the site of an ancient spring – the adjecent stretch of road is known as Springhole Lane.

(Image: Adrian Cable)

But there could be an altogether darker purpose behind the structure. According to Eileen Heaps: “Another suggestion is that it was indeed a shelter, but for those whose journey to the nearby Bulcamp Workhouse (a ‘House of Industry‘ dating from the 1700s, now a private residential complex) meant that their arrival was after the House had closed for the night.”

Hidden in plain sight by the A145 road.(Image: via Google Street View. Hidden in plain sight)

Whether the true purpose behind the brick-built Bulcamp Oddity one day reemerges remains to be seen. For now, it remains an intriguing and unusually ornate roadside structure that, if not designed as a shelter, at least acquired two basic stone seats as the years have progressed.

Related: Hidden Wartime Air Raid Shelter West of River Almond, Edinburgh

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Salt Box Cottages: Hidden Remnants of a Sheffield Landmark

A concealed rock outcrop on Psalter Lane, Sheffield, which once supported the joists of the Salt Box Cottages.(Image: Google Street View. Concealed site of the demolished Salt Box Cottages)

The area is heavily overgrown today, but beyond this dense foliage is hidden a natural rock outcrop, its history largely unknown to younger generations of Sheffielders. Situated by the side of Psalter Lane, on the left as you travel from Banner Cross in the direction of Sharrow, the rock face has several square holes hewn from its surface, which once held timber joists supporting the upper floors of the so-called Salt Box Cottages.

The unusual 18th century structures, once the homes of quarry workers, were a well known local landmark until their demolition in 1967. In their fascinating book Sheffield Curiosities (published 1997), Duncan and Trevor Smith write that the Salt Box Cottages were once home of the the proprietor of nearby Brincliffe Quarry, traces of which can still be seen amid the 20th century city suburbs.

(Image: Morgan and Son via Picture Sheffield)

According to the authors: “[The Salt Box Cottages’] unusual name is thought by some to be because the building had the appearance of an old saltbox hanging on a kitchen wall. This would have been accentuated when the road was lowered in the mid-1800’s to reduce the steep gradient at this point. Alternatively, the name is linked with Psalter Lane, the road being part of the original and ancient route taken by packhorse trains bringing shipments of salt into the City from distant Cheshire via Manchester.”

The rugged stone cottages feature prominently in an 1875 painting of the Psalter Lane quarries by artist Joseph Wrightson MacIntyre (see here). Father and son team Duncan and Trevor Smith write that the distinctive landmark had been largely dismantled by 1969, though evidence of their existence remains carved into the rock to this day.

Read Next: The Mysterious Crosspool Tunnel in Sheffield, Northern England

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The Medieval Ruins of Helfenberg Castle, Germany

The mighty ruins of Helfenberg Castle in Germany.(Image: J Abele, CC-BY-SA-4.0. Ruins of Helfenberg Castle in Germany)

Stout and imposing, the remains of a medieval castle still guards the hilltop overlooking the hamlet of Helfenberg, in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg. But today, the ruined fortification has been consumed by trees that began taking over when it was abandoned centuries ago.

Helfenberg Castle was built some time around 1250, and first showed up in official records in 1259. The mighty hilltop structure was first the home of the Helfenbergs, then the Sachsenheims, and the Sturmfeders after them. It would changed hands again as the centuries passed by.

Burgruine Helfenberg.(Image: Peter Schmelzle, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

A number of intriguing episodes have taken place throughout the castle’s history. The year 1456 brought the sale of not only the property but all the people who lived within! By 1521, Helfenberg Castle was the property of Wolf Ruch von Winnenden, who was in the process of extending the fortifications when he was murdered during the German Peasants’ War of 1525.

Much of the now-ruined Helfenberg Castle was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, which was fought in Central Europe during the 17th century. The structure was later restored with the addition of a chapel. A vineyard was added some generations later, but the beleaguered structure was not to last much longer.

(Image: Kiesersche Forstkarte 1685)

By the early 1800s the fortified house lay in ruins, and a lower section was completely destroyed in a 1945 bombing raid. Today, the hollow ruins have been stabilised by current owners the von Gaisberg family. Bolstered by public funding, the ruined castle’s deterioration has been slowed and the attractive hilltop grounds are open to the public.

Read Next: 20 Commanding Cliff-top Castles & Fortresses

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Uncover the Remnants of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial (Addy Street)

Remains of granite column from Sheffield's Crimean War Memorial in Addy Street, Upperthorpe(Image: Google Street View. Remains of Crimean War Memorial column in Addy Street)

In a small park, adjacent to Addy Street in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, lies a series of cylindrical stone blocks whose presence seems at odds with the modern housing development that surrounds it. Indeed, this oddity is the remains of a grand column that, many assumed, had disappeared from the Sheffield street scene decades ago. The column was part of the city’s Crimean War Memorial, and supported a statue of Queen Victoria that has itself languished in a council storage facility since 2004.

The impressive memorial, which depicts Victoria as the personification of the mythological Victory, first stood at Moorhead, in Sheffield city centre. It was built in 1857 by a public subscription of £1,400 to commemorate those who fell during the bloody Crimean War of 1854 to 1856. Florence Nightingale, the prominent English social reformer and founder of modern nursing, was among the donors.

Addy Street oddity from above.(Image: Google Earth)

But as Sheffield underwent major redevelopment in the decades after World War Two, the changing face of Moorhead saw the monument dismantled and removed, its constituent parts relocated or – perhaps – even disposed of. A 2015 letter to the editor of the Star newspaper asked where the missing sections of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial had gone. Meanwhile, some contributors to this passionate thread on the local history forum suggest that, not only should the statue reemerge from storage, it should also be restored to its former glory.

(Image: Google Street View)

In the meantime, the surviving sections of the grand 18-foot-high column can be found on Addy Street in the Upperthorpe area of Sheffield, near the Ponderosa. Before that, the Aberdeen granite drums formed an unusual playground in nearby Hammond Street.

Read Next: The Mysterious Crosspool Tunnel in Sheffield, Northern England

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Uncover the Remnants of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial (Addy Street)

Remains of granite column from Sheffield's Crimean War Memorial in Addy Street, Upperthorpe(Image: Google Street View. Remains of Crimean War Memorial column in Addy Street)

In a small park, adjacent to Addy Street in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, lies a series of cylindrical stone blocks whose presence seems at odds with the modern housing development that surrounds it. Indeed, this oddity is the remains of a grand column that, many assumed, had disappeared from the Sheffield street scene decades ago. The column was part of the city’s Crimean War Memorial, and supported a statue of Queen Victoria that has itself languished in a council storage facility since 2004.

The impressive memorial, which depicts Victoria as the personification of the mythological Victory, first stood at Moorhead, in Sheffield city centre. It was built in 1857 by a public subscription of £1,400 to commemorate those who fell during the bloody Crimean War of 1854 to 1856. Florence Nightingale, the prominent English social reformer and founder of modern nursing, was among the donors.

Addy Street oddity from above.(Image: Google Earth)

But as Sheffield underwent major redevelopment in the decades after World War Two, the changing face of Moorhead saw the monument dismantled and removed, its constituent parts relocated or – perhaps – even disposed of. A 2015 letter to the editor of the Star newspaper asked where the missing sections of Sheffield’s Crimean War Memorial had gone. Meanwhile, some contributors to this passionate thread on the local history forum suggest that, not only should the statue reemerge from storage, it should also be restored to its former glory.

(Image: Google Street View)

In the meantime, the surviving sections of the grand 18-foot-high column can be found on Addy Street in the Upperthorpe area of Sheffield, near the Ponderosa. Before that, the Aberdeen granite drums formed an unusual playground in nearby Hammond Street.

Read Next: The Mysterious Crosspool Tunnel in Sheffield, Northern England

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Lightning F.53 ZF580 at Newquay Airport for Restoration

Lightning ZF580 while on display at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire.(Image: Anthony Parkes. Lightning ZF580 while on display at Samlesbury Aerodrome)

For more than 20 years, from 1990 to 2013, English Electric Lightning F.53 ZF580 had pride of place on the main gate at Samlesbury Aerodrome in Lancashire, greeting BAE Systems employees as they arrived at their place of work. But as the years passed by, and the elements took their toll on the airframe, a decision was made to replace ZF580 with a full-scale fibreglass replica of the iconic British interceptor. Happily, Lightning ZF580 is now set for restoration, and her dismantled fuselage is pictured here in the care of the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre at Newquay Airport.

ZF580 first took to the air from Samlesbury on November 28, 1967. The airframe was among a batch of Lightnings built by the English Electric Company for the Royal Saudi Air Force. These export jets were designated Lightning F.53s, and ZF580 carried the Saudi serial number 53-672. She was delivered to an airfield in Jeddah in 1968 and served with the Lightning Conversion Unit at Dhahran, seeing out her operational days with 2 Squadron RSAF.

The warplane was returned to BAE Warton in 1986 along with other remaining Lightning F.53s and placed in outdoor storage. By 1990 the airframe had been transported to Samlesbury Aerodrome for display purposes, where she would remain for the next 23 years.

English Electric Lightning F6 and F-35 mockups on Samlesbury Aerdrome gate(Image: Google Earth. F-35 and Lightning mockups)

In 2013, due to her deteriorating condition after decades spent outdoors, a full-scale Lightning replica was built and installed on the Samlesbury gate. Unlike many Lightnings, which had their wings and tails cut off for transport, ZF580 was dismantled correctly – a major feat of engineering that requires the front and rear fuselage to be separated before the appendages can be removed – and moved to Newquay Airport for restoration.

Meanwhile, the full-scale mockup at Samlesbury Aerodrome has been joined by another gate guardian, in the form of a replica of the stealthy new F-35 Lightning II, which is set to enter operational service with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm in the near future.

Browse more in our English Electric Lightning Archives

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Building Roads With Pellets Made From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Councils are testing pellets made from recycled plastic bottles, bags and other waste materials in road construction.(Image: biancamentil)

At long last there may be a use for those pesky plastic bottles and bags that blight our streets and harm the environment. Several UK councils are testing a new process that takes waste plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in the landfill and melting them into an asphalt mixture that reduces waste and reportedly makes for stronger roads.

The innovative process transforms the waste materials into plastic pellets which “are then melted into the asphalt mix to act as a binding agent”, Sky News reports. It’s understood that recycled plastic makes up around 0.5 per cent of the mixture.

Discarded plastic bottles gathered together.(Image: Hans)

Speaking the Sky News, Toby McCartney of MacRebur Plastics Road Company said: “We’re able to take the waste plastics that are destined for landfill, we take those plastics and we add them into an asphalt mix to create a stronger, longer lasting road. It makes the end performance of the road much greater and we replace part of the bitumen in the mix, that’s the fossil fuel.”

He added: “Our analogy is that traditional bitumen is a bit like a Pritt Stick – what we have is a superglue. It binds the stuff together to form a stronger and longer lasting bind, so we have less flaking of anything coming off. There’s less maintenance needed for those roads and we’re saving (councils) money by using up local waste for local roads.”

Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway and Enfield councils are currently testing what have been termed “plastic roads”.

Councillor Elaine Murray, leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, told Sky News that landfill tax would be reduced due to less waste plastic being disposed of into the ground. She added that although the pellets are slightly more expensive than bitumen at the present time, “bitumen depends on the oil price so that wouldn’t necessarily always be the case. Also, it uses a lot less binder, so there’s a saving there.”

Plastic and other waste materials are ploughed into a landfill site.(Image: Prylarer)

Cllr Murray, who described the process as “quite exciting”, said: “Instead of using bitumen, which is a product of the oil industry, it uses plastics which would normally just go into landfill. So it’s environmentally friendly as well as being a good, hard surface for the road. Hopefully it will be more hard-working in the longer term…”

But Dr Karl Williams, director of the Centre for Waste and Resource Management at the University of Central Lancashire, cautioned that it was still early days. “I think it’s too early to say how environmentally friendly these roads are because they are only going on trial roads at the moment, and in terms of what plastics they are using, where the plastic comes from and the level of contamination,” he told Sky News.

Read Next: Glass Beach: How Nature Reversed a Trashy Stretch of California Coast

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