Preserve “Pinky”: Campaign to Save Tornado GR4 ZG750


Panavia Tornado GR4T ZG750 aka "Pinky"


(Image: Steve Tron). Panavia Tornado GR4 ZG750 aka “Pinky”)

With ever more Tornado GR4 airframes going out of service and being disposed of via RTP (reduced to produce, or spares reclamation and scrapping), a campaign is underway to save the most distinctive ‘Tonka’ in the RAF fleet.

The Change.org petition was launched in a bid to preserve Panavia Tornado ZG750, which has been nicknamed “Pinky” by enthusiasts due to her iconic desert camouflage scheme. The special paint job was applied to mark the Tornado GR variant’s 25 years on operations, beginning with Operation Granby, the name given to British military involvement in the 1991 Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm).


Tornado ZG750 taxis to the runway threshold


(Image: Steve Tron. Tornado ZG750 taxis to the runway threshold) 

During that conflict a force of around 60 Tornado GR1 strike jets were hastily repainted in the now iconic ‘desert pink’ camouflage and deployed to air bases at Muharraq in Bahrain and Tabuk and Dhahran in Saudi Arabia. Six Tornados were lost during highly dangerous low-level combat missions against Iraqi airfields and other military targets. Five aircrew members were killed.

In the late 1990s the Mid-Life Update (MLU) got underway, which saw around 142 of the original 228-strong RAF Tornado force upgraded to GR4 standard, integrating state-of-the-art weapons and avionics packages. The MLU was completed in 2003, and the jets have been constantly upgraded ever since.

Pinky, a comparatively young Tornado airframe (delivered to RAF service on July 31, 1991), has become a coveted sight for aviation enthusiasts and photographers looking to snap a picture of the jet thundering through the likes of the ‘Mach Loop’ in Wales at low level.


Panavia Tornado GR4(T) ZG750 "Pinky" on the static line at RIAT 2017


(Image: Steve Tron. Tornado GR4 ZG750 “Pinky” on the static line at RIAT 2017)

The Change.org petition, which is titled “Retire Tornado ZG750 ‘Pinky’ to the City of Norwich Aviation Museum”, reads:

“Tornado ZG750 ‘Pinky’ is the most unique and beautiful Tornado in the Royal Air Force fleet. As such, she deserves a good home. Some of you may have heard that she is planned to go to RAF Leeming in the next week or two to be scrapped, or ‘RTP’ as they call it. (Reduced to Produce, robbed of spare parts essentially). We want to give Pinky the home she deserves at the City of Norwich Aviation Museum, as this is one of the best facilities for both her history and preservation.”

In addition to aircraft preservation, Norwich Aviation Museum aims to highlight the aviation history of Norfolk, including RAF Marham, Pinky’s home base. At the time of writing ZG750’s page has received 1,744 of 2,500 signatures required for the case to be heard. To help in the bid to save this iconic jet for future generations, you can sign the petition here and connect on Facebook.

Proposed Roseburn to Union Canal Cycle Route (Edinburgh)


Artist's impression of the proposed Dalry Road cycle bridge for the Roseburn to Union Canal cycle route.


(Image: via Edinburgh Council Consultation Hub. Proposed Dalry Road bridge on the ‘Roseburn to Union Canal cycle route’)

Edinburgh residents with an interest in walking, cycling and linear urban parks may be aware of the proposed Roseburn to Union Canal cycle which, according to the website, is now in the design and planning phase. The project aims to plug a “missing link” between the regenerated Union Canal and existing walking and cycle paths elsewhere in the Scots capital. From an Urban Ghosts perspective, this would mean incorporating a historic part of the city’s 19th century transport infrastructure into a 21st century cycle network.

Stages 1 and 2 – the initial feasibility study and route development and stakeholder engagement – are both complete. Stage 3 of the project – design, planning application and tender preparation – is understood to be currently ongoing.

The artist’s impression (above) shows what a new bridge across Dalry Road might look like. The “painted steel” structure, which was highlighted by the Edinburgh Evening News in February last year, would lie alongside an existing bridge that carries the West Approach Road along a stretch of abandoned railway line near the disused Dalry Road station.



Map showing the proposed Roseburn to Union Canal cycle route.


(Image: via Consultation Hub (pdf). Map of proposed Roseburn to Union Canal cycle route.)

Edinburgh boasts an extensive network of pedestrian and cycle paths utilising old railway trackbed built in the Victorian era by the Caledonian Railway and its rival line the North British. But between Roseburn and the Union Canal riders are forced to brave busy streets, passing under the West Approach Road via the historic Telfer Subway (connecting Caledonian Crescent and Dundee Street).

A new Dalry Road bridge – a key part of the Roseburn to Union Canal cycle route – would also connect the Gorgie-Dalry neighbourhoods to much-needed green-space on the redundant branch line running behind the tenements of Downfield Place and Duff Street Lane. In doing so, an important part of Edinburgh’s Victorian industrial heritage would be revived and repurposed for modern users.

The Historic Ruins of Fort Campbell, Malta


The historic ruins of Fort Campbell, Malta


(Image: Ploync. The historic ruins of Fort Campbell, Malta)

The enigmatic ruins of Fort Campbell stand guard over the Maltese coastline, straddling the Selmun peninsula with commanding views over both St. Paul’s Bay and Mellieha Bay. Parts of the fort’s history remain hazy; it’s not clear when exactly the installation was decommissioned, and it’s thought that construction began in December 1937 and was sped up due to mounting tensions across Europe following the Munich Agreement.


A fire control tower at Fort Campbell, Malta


(Image: Frank Vincentz)

According to Military Architecture, Fort Campbell was the last British fort to be built in Malta, a Southern European island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, before the outbreak of World War Two. As such, it was built at something of a turning point in the history of warfare. Previously, the biggest threats to Malta had come from the sea. But with rapid developments in the field of aviation, particularly the bomber, attacks from the air were a major concern.


Abandoned Fort Campbell, Malta


(Image: Ploync)

A traditional fortification would have stood out against the landscape and made it an easy target from above, so Fort Campbell’s builders sort to make the fort blend into the surrounding countryside. Rather than the thick ramparts and rigid layout that typically characterised such military outposts, Fort Campbell’s structures were designed to mimic the irregular, stone rubble walls that crossed the Mellieħa landscape. Those walls hid “ among other defences “ two 6-inch breech-loading coastal guns and a series of heavy machine gun batteries poised to defend British seaplanes operating from Mistra Bay.





(Image: Frank Vincentz)

Fort Campbell was a departure from older forts in others ways, too. No consideration was given, for example, to unnecessary aesthetic touches. Everything about its robust construction was utilitarian, from its ability to seal itself off from the outside world to a spartan, unconventional interior designed to prevent reconnaissance planes (and bombers) detecting it from above.





(Image: Ploync)

This unusual design – a departure from the traditional polygonal layout of 19th century fortifications – and few internal buildings ensured its effective camouflage.





(Image: Ploync)

Sadly, though, the years have not been kind to the historic wartime facility. The fort’s importance waned after the Second World War, though the military did maintain a caretaker there until the 1970s. In more recent years, Fort Campbell has been abandoned, and increasingly at the mercy of vandals who have inflicted significant damage.





(Image: Ploync)

Iron beams integral to the support of the old barracks have been stolen, causing heavy stone blocks to collapse. The ruined fortress is now considered unsafe and should not be entered.





(Image: Ploync)

In 2014 Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, laid out plans to restore the ailing fort, but last year the Times of Malta reported that the historic ruins remained in a derelict and dangerous condition.








(Images: Ploync 1, 2)

In March this year, the newspaper also reported that Fort Campbell and other Maltese ruins were set to feature in an art project directed by Mark Magro.





(Image: Ploync)

The Times of Malta wrote: “Forgotten Landscapes is the first in a projected series of multimedia exhibitions and publications which brings together artisans and historians to tell the story of abandoned buildings in Malta.”





(Image: Ploync)

Related: 10 Abandoned Fire Control Towers of World War Two

The Unfinished Royal Palace at Tell el-Ful, Jerusalem


The unfinished ruins of the Royal Palace at Tell el-Ful in Jerusalem.


(Image: Eli.berckovitz. Unfinished ruins of the Royal Palace at Tell el-Ful)

The Middle East has long been a place of upheaval. This unfinished shell of a building, which stands at one of the highest points in the region, is testament to that. Construction of the building began in 1965, intended as a summer home for King Hussein of Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The site was one of great historic importance, as its prominent hilltop location “ known as Tell el-Ful “ had long been associated with the biblical Gibeah.





(Image: Daniel)

Whether this association is accurate has been a topic of ongoing debate. Archaeologists have for years argued over the findings of numerous excavations. But even many of those who do question Tell el-Ful’s link to Gibeah – including Tel Aviv University’s Israel Finkelstein (pdf) – accept the area may have been inhabited at least as far back as the 7th or 8th centuries BC.





(Image: Daniel)

Excavations initially got underway at Tell el-Ful in 1868. Subsequent digs uncovered layer upon layer of fortifications, including a set of ancient ruins, which are understood to have been built by the biblical King Saul.

The abandoned, unfinished shell of the Royal Palace on Tell el-Ful was to be built over these ruins of Saul’s ancient residence, and the original plans were grand. Intended not only as a summer home but a place where visiting dignitaries could stay, relax, and no doubt be impressed, the three-storey structure was set to be clad with Jerusalem stone, a building material that hearkened back to the area’s ancient history.





(Image: Daniel)

But plans were halted just two years after construction began, when Israel seized control of the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967. The two-storey cement structure was little more than a skeleton then, and since that time, it’s become a haven for all manner of less-than-savoury characters.


The view from Tell el-Ful overlooking Jerusalem


(Image: Judae1. The view from Tell el-Ful overlooking Jerusalem)

The incomplete Royal Palace’s future on Tell el-Ful remains uncertain. Stilled owned by the ruling family of Jordan, local authorities in Jerusalem have reportedly been reluctant to allow renovations at the abandoned property atop the ancient “Gibeah of Saul”.

Keep Reading: Lifta: Abandoned Palestinian Ghost Village at Edge of Jerusalem (Photos)

Aldeia de Broas: A Ruined Portuguese Ghost Village


These ruins mark the ghost town of Aldeia de Broas in Portugal.


(Image: Reino Baptista. The Portuguese ghost town of Aldeia de Broas)

These crumbling farm buildings are understood to mark the last remnants of Aldeia de Broas, a ghost town in Mafra, a municipality in the Lisbon District on the west coast of Portugal. According the Wikipedia, the lost community had been inhabited for centuries but became a ghost town in the 1960s when its last resident died. Judging by the photograph, the years have clearly not been kind.

Atmospheric as the above photograph is, Google Earth offers a more comprehensive glimpse back in time, as the ruins of the old village can clearly be seen from above.


The ruins of Aldeia de Broas from above.

Read Next: The Forgotten Ghost Town of Baltimore, Indiana

The Forgotten Ghost Town of Baltimore, Indiana


The sole surviving building in the ghost town of Baltimore, Indiana


(Image: Huw Williams. The last surviving building in Baltimore, Indiana ghost town)

There isn’t much left of Baltimore, Indiana, but the settlement’s sole surviving building must have been grand in its day. The handsome red brick mansion near the intersection of Baltimore Hill Road and Indiana State Road 263, surrounded by cultivated farmland, dates back to the 1880s.


Period drawing of Baltimore, Indiana, now a ghost town.


(Image: J. H. Beers and Company, Chicago)

Not to be confused with the larger Maryland city of the same name, the Indiana ghost town lies on the banks of the Wabash River in Warren County’s Mound Township. Founded in 1829 by William Willmeth and Samuel Hill, the settlement was once a bustling little community with a peak population of 70.


Historic plan showing the layout of Baltimore, Indiana, now a ghost town where barely a trace remains.


(Image: Warren County Recorder)

Once home to a post office, a general store and a number of homes, Baltimore, Indiana fell into decline around the 1840s when construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal was completed on the far side of the river. As is so often the way of things, this waterway, which connected the Great Lakes to the Ohio River, would itself fall out of use over time.


Historic tombstones in the small cemetery at Baltimore, Indiana.


(Image: Huw Williams)

Not that it would come as any comfort to the spectres of Baltimore, of which now barely a trace remains, save for the red brick house mention above and a collection of tombstones in the ghost town’s old cemetery.

Related: Ghost Towns: 20 Haunting Abandoned Villages of the World

Indonesian Boeing 737 Veers Off Runway at Wamena Airport


Boeing Boeing 737-301, registration PK-YGG, in landing incident at Wamena Airport, Indonesia


(Image: Papua Police/File via The Jakarta Post; Boeing 737 in runway incident at Wamena)

Yesterday it was reported that a Boeing 737-301 belonging to an Indonesian cargo company had suffered a “runway excursion” at Wamena, the largest town in the country’s Papua highlands. The freighter, which was operated by Jakarta-based Tri-MG Intra Asia Airlines, had arrived from Timika and reportedly veered off the runway on landing.

A Tri MG Airlines official told FlightGlobal that the incident occurred around 11:50 local time on July 18th. The registration of the 737 involved in the incident was PK-YGG. According to FlightGlobal, the official said that “the crew felt heavy pressure on the aircraft while landing” before the plane veered off the runway.





(Image: Papua Police/File via The Jakarta Post; Boeing 737 PK-YGG)

FlightGlobal wrote: “The aircraft’s attitude suggest that the entire undercarriage may have collapsed. In one image, the leftside landing gear has been torn backwards, the wheels lying next to the aircraft’s flaps. There is no evidence of fire.”

Meanwhile, The Jakarta Post reported that “the left wheel and undercarriage of the aircraft had fallen off when the plane touched down.” All five people on the aircraft, including four crew and a passenger, survived the incident. No other injuries have been reported.

The 29-year-old plane, which was carrying 15,000 kilograms of rice, mattresses and construction materials, reportedly left the runway at around 100 metres from its landing point and skidded for almost a kilometre, passing over a flooded ditch and hitting a wall.


The terminal building at Wamena Airport in Papua Province.


(Image: WMX Wamena Airport; the airport terminal)

The same Boeing 737 aircraft was also reportedly involved in an incident last April when cargo was pushed to the back of the plane as it was being loaded at Wamena, causing the aircraft’s nose to rise several metres off the ground.

Boeing 737-301 PK-YGG was delivered to Piedmont Airlines in 1988 and has been operated by Tri-MG Intra Asia Airlines since April 2012. Wamena Airport, which lies 6,200 ft above sea level and is surrounded by high mountains, is known for its unpredictable weather patterns.

Read Next: Defunct Airliner in a Quarry on Bukit Peninsula

A Forgotten Shipwreck on Gullane Bents (East Lothian)?


Possible shipwreck on Gullane Bents in East Lothian.


(Images: Urban Ghosts. A forgotten shipwreck at Gullane Bents?)

If you turn to Google looking for a shipwreck on Gullane Bents, in Scotland, chances are that most search results will direct you to two historic midget submarines wrecks, which lie half-buried in the sand of nearby Aberlady Bay, and can be visited at low tide.

Wading along the picturesque East Lothian beach yesterday, however, I came upon what from a distance looked like a rock. But on closer inspection it was clearly man-made, forged of steel, and similar in appearance to the entrance hatch of the abandoned midget submarines along the coast.


A forgotten wreck on Gullane Beach?

There’s no evidence (that I know of) of such a vessel on Gullane Bents, and it’s likely the explanation is rather more prosaic. But if you do know more about the history of this apparent maritime relic, we’d be intrigued to learn more. Is it a forgotten shipwreck from a bygone era, or something else?

Read Next: 10 Deserted Islands in the Firth of Forth (Scotland)

The Attractive Ruins of Lilbourne Railway Station


The overgrown remains of Lilbourne railway station in Northamptonshire.


(Image: G-Man. The attractive ruins of Lilbourne railway station)

By comparison to many of the abandoned railway stations we’ve featured on Urban Ghosts, the remains of Lilbourne station may appear like little more than a ruined rural platform. But there’s something undeniably photogenic about the above scene, which shows a double track-bed turned vehicle access and a short country platform slowly returning to nature.

Lilbourne station in Northamptonshire, England, opened on the Rugby and Stamford Railway on May 1, 1850. It began as a single track and was later doubled in 1878 due to passenger demand. When the 1923 grouping led to the establishing of “The Big Four of the New Railway Era”, the Rugby and Stamford came under the control of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).

Lilbourne station remained opened until 1966, closing in the same decade that many rural stations and branch lines faced the dreaded Beeching Axe. The railway station gave its name to the nearby RAF Lilbourne airfield, a First World War Royal Flying Corps station that was home to the Sopwith Camels of No. 73 Squadron.

Read Next: 13 Abandoned Stations & Disused Platforms of the London Underground

A Levitating Yoda on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile


A levitating Yoda on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh


(Images: Urban Ghosts. A levitating Yoda on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile)

For many years, Edinburgh’s Old Town has been a go-to destination for tourists and street performers alike, both in and out of festival season.




Amid the throng of the Royal Mile yesterday, this levitating (and unusually tall) Yoda drew the attention of many curious passers-by.




Whether or not he was actually using the Force, the illusion caused at least one observer to take a look down his Jedi robes. He’s also apparently something of a fixture by the red telephone kiosk at the foot of the Lawnmarket – making an appearance on Google Street View.




If memory serves, this is the first time that Yoda has put in an appearance on Urban Ghosts. But Star Wars fans may enjoy an assortment of other distant galactic oddities, from the sad wrecks in an X-Wing graveyard to a full-scale Millennium Falcon and real-world film locations.