2007 saw the launch of the Astute submarine, built by BAE. at Barrow. These launchings always attract large crowds of ocals and in fact, when was at school on Walney, we would always walk dwn as a whole school and watch the event from Walney prom. Nowadays, I think its not quite as big an issue, not as many ships built and the health and safety aspect.
Ships and subs are always launched by royalty at Barrow.The Astute was launched by Camilla Parker Bowles, maybe not quite so high up in the royal chain but she still attracteda good crowd. The only part of her we saw was the huge helicopter taking off from Walney airfield after the event.
The Astute as launched on one of the rare hot days this summer which no doubt made it more of an event. Better than standing in the pouring rain.
The submarine launching was not actually into the water this time, only out of it's shed, as more checks had to be carried out. At least this meant we could all view the Astute from Michaelson Road Bridge. I think she sailed a couple of weeks later.
I'm not sure about the history of the Rollo Run, but for as long as I've been old enough to drink alcohol I've known of the tradition. Popular for stag nights, works parties, birthdays and general Big Nights Out the Rollo Run is a pub crawl along one of the most heavily bar-populated streets in Barrow: Rawlinson Street.
This Barrovian initiation into the World of Alcohol used to be quite a challange involving a pint in every one of the thirteen pubs along the street. Now, however, most of the pubs have closed and there are now only seven watering holes along the way. Nevertheless, Barrovians still take on the Rollo Run with gusto for all kinds of event, although they now usually remain standing to carry on to Cornwallis Street or The Boat (The Princess Selandia) at the end.
I've completed the Rollo Run twice in my drinking lifetime and both times, I'm pleased to say, I reached the end still vertical!
You can do the Rollo Run starting from either end of the street, either going from The Queens to Dominix to The Rams Head to The Last Orders to The Blue Lamp to The Peacock and finally to The Duke of Edinburgh or Vice Versa. The Queens and The Duke both have regular live music from local bands so either way you start & finish with a lively atmosphere. The Peacock is a Karaoke bar for a little variety!
Be warned - none of these bars are glamorous or cool - the wallpaper is peeling and the toilet doors don't lock - but for a true taste of the Barrovian drinking culture this challange is well worth the hangover!!
B.A.E. Systems, or Vickers as everyone knows it, was Barrow's main employer. It started life asThe Barrow Ship Building Company in 1871 and was bought by Vickers Armstrong in 1897 and in later years went through a series of owners, ending currently with BAESystems.
The first boat to be launched from the yard was the steam yacht Aries, in 1873. Over the next ten years more than a hundred ships were built, including passenger liners and warships.
In the 60's the first nuclear subs were built, Dreadnought and Polaris, followed in the 90's by four Trident nuclear subs, the newest of new in nuclear technology. These were built in Devonshire Dock Hall, a massive building dominating the shipyard today. It is the largest marine ship-building shed in Europe.
The past decade has seen a steady fall in the workforce, orders going abroad, not the demand etc. etc. Currently, only around 4,000 remain employed at the Barrow yard. The company has to remain optimistic to enable it to survive.
Rows of terraced houses sit dwarfed amongst BAE's gigantic buildings. To me, this is Barrow's gloomier side but people have lived alongside these monsters in total harmony for years, never living any differently. I dare say you see the" real "side of Barrow here.
Much of the history of Barrow's ship-building can be found in Barrow Dock Museum.
When we first moved to Barrow, in 1983, somewhere in the region of 15,000 worked at Vickers. You made sure you weren't in the vicinity of the shipyard at either lunchtime or end of shift kick-out. Thousands would pour out of the various sheds and
leap on their bikes and pour out onto Barrow's roads, not a care for the ordinary person. It was an awesome sight and not a situation to be caught up in!!!