Elephant in triumphant return to city

Fun: Rajah the elephant with youngsters at Halton Mill
Fun: Rajah the elephant with youngsters at Halton Mill
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One of Lancashire’s famous mechanical elephants brought memories flooding back when he was the guest of honour at a mill near Lancaster.

Rajah, the 7ft mechanical 
elephant, returned to Halton Mill, near Lancaster, where he was constructed more than 60 years ago as a children’s ride for seaside promenades.

Rajah was the guest of honour at the re-opening of Halton Mill as a low carbon workspace.

Rajah, who was constructed at Halton Mill around 1950, when it housed the Luneside Engineering works, spent three hours delighting children by carrying them on his back, just as he and his fellow mechanical elephants did on British seaside promenades for many years.

Linda Smalley, from Morecambe, remembered riding an elephant as a small child.

She said: “I remember the sensation very well, but when I talked about it nobody believed me, so it is lovely to see a mechanical elephant with children on it.”

Rajah, who now belongs to the Crosby Lions, walked through a ribbon made of paper elephants to open the refurbished mill which is providing office, workshop, studio and hot desk space to small enterprises and individuals.

Eric Smith, whose father Frank Smith designed the Luneside mechanical elephant, turned up to see his father’s handiwork.

He said: “My father had been to Bellevue amusement park and saw a real elephant, and came back saying he was going to make a mechanical elephant.

“I was 16 then and more interested in going out, but I couldn’t miss the chance to see it today.”

Stephen Fawcett, who worked at Luneside Engineering in the 1980s, alongside his father, was reunited with about a dozen of his former workmates.

He said: “I heard a lot about the elephants when I worked here, but had never seen one before.

“It is great to be here today and meet up with all the others.

“Luneside Engineering was a brilliant place to work, it had a great sense of camaraderie.”

His father John Fawcett said they were all proud to have been part of the company.

He said: “The work we did was of very high quality, we could turn our hands to anything. I saw the building a couple of years ago and it looked pretty rough, so I’m pleased to see it being used and brought back to its former glory.”

Lancaster Cohousing, a pioneering eco community, now owns Halton Mill.