Reader’s letters - Wednesday January 07, 2015

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Memories of bus station

I was very pleased to hear that the iconic Preston Bus Station had been saved from demolition.

Obviously the city council had good reasons to take the demolition route for the furtherance of the city’s development programme, but unlike any other municipal or NCP car park, it is a fine looking building, one of the very few reinforced concrete structures erected in the sixties which has stood the test of time.

Furthermore, unlike the majority of reinforced concrete structures, it has avoided black weather staining to the surfaces of the pergolas which give the structure its clean and almost new-like lines and uniqueness.

You may be wondering why I should be waxing lyrical about the building, after all I’m not a Preston lad, being born in Bolton.

However, I was the deputy project manager for its construction, working for John Laing Construction, the main contractor, back in 1968-69. The project manager was Jack Stokes, who is now 91 years old and lives in Lostock, Bolton.

Laings was able to secure the contract for the construction because, unlike the other bidders who all plumbed for having all the concrete pre-cast floor beams and pergola units cast elsewhere by sub-contractors and transported in, Laings determined to cast all these units on site, thus making great savings on transport and sub-contractor’s margins.

All the fibre glass moulds were designed by Laings in its Manchester office and then made in Nelson by a subsidiary of Glasdon Signs. These were set up in the casting yard at the bottom end of the Church Street side of the site.

The steel reinforcement “skeleton” was dropped in each mould and concrete made on site was poured in from a skip suspended from a Scotch Derrick crane.

This crane was erected and perched in the air, on three steel towers supported on wheeled carriages. The whole thing then ran down the site on rails.

The derrick (made by Butters in Glasgow) was also tasked with lifting the cast units, after the concrete had hardened, out of their moulds and depositing them in the stacking yard located between the rails. Then after the concrete in the units had cured for 28 days, it lifted the units into position forming the floors to the car parking areas above the ground floor of the terminus.

The only snag was when the heavy electrical cable, which powered the crane and which was supposed to wind and unwind automatically from the cable drum, attached to one of the carriages as the crane moved up and down the rails, occasionally failed to do so and became squashed under one of the gabbard carriage wheels, causing billows of smoke and sparks.

The other thing about the derrick was that we only had the one driver. It was a skilled job and derrick crane drivers were a dying breed because tower and mobile cranes were becoming used instead. He was a very pleasant Scotsman but liked a tipple in the evening. I had to often go round to his digs in the morning to get him up and drive him to work!

The contract commenced in March 1968 and finished in late 1969. The architect called Keith Ingham was a partner of BDP in Preston. I remember he drove an NSU saloon with the Wankel rotary engine, which in those days was a cool car to drive around in.

Tim Booth C Eng, Chorley

Invitation open to all students

We did not just cater for international students (LEP December 30). The invitation to the free Christmas Day lunch event went to UCLan students who, for one reason or another, may not have had plans in place for Christmas Day.

Although, the international students obviously thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated their first Christmas lunch in the UK.

We should remember it is not only the old and homeless who may find Christmas to be a difficult, lonely and depressing experience.

One of Lee’s volunteering Elves

Cash not going where needed

A study by the respected Transparency International reveals the UK is giving over £1bn of overseas foreign aid (ie taxpayers’ money) to 20 of the most corrupt regimes in the world.

These include the regimes of many countries with whom we have stated ideological differences and have even been at war, countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, North Korea,Yemen, and many more. Twenty of which are listed in its report, together with total amounts given, stated as £813.7m in 2012 rising to £1,010. 31m in 2013 and an yet to be announced total for 2014.

It is an open secret that most of this money ends up in the pockets of the corrupt officials/ terrorist groups running many of these regimes, and ensures that their palaces and Mercedes are maintained with little going to relieve the lot of their poor and downtrodden population.

In spite of stated excuses offered by the Foreign Office that this cash is administered by the UN, many believe that corrupt officials/terrorist groups demanding protection money end up with the lion share.

Also we are told only the UK – out of the major world democracies, which are doing nothing – is now attempting to increase its overseas aid contribution to the £11.5bn as required by the UN, a ridiculous sum which our nation with its own problems could never afford.

Little wonder that sensible political parties such as UKIP are stating in their election manifestos that this present overseas aid money should remain in the UK to help the poor and disadvantaged here, in spite of PM Cameron’s continued high-minded assertion to the contrary, when he, nor his Government, cannot guarantee where it is really going.

E J Tillley, Chorley

Trams rejection makes no sense

Once again I read Preston City Council is about to reject the planning application to allow trams to operate along a disused railway line, presumably under pressure from LCC.

What I cannot understand is why. This is a private enterprise which would utilise the old Longridge railway and would not interfere with anything public except the crossing at Deepdale.

It would clean up what has become a dumping ground, which I assume ends up with the council having to pay for clearing it up. It does not make sense, but then who can make sense of some of the planning authorities’ decisions?

C Fazackerley, via email