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Ark Royal name lives on in the heart of Lancashire

Ark Royal name lives on in the heart of Lancashire
1 March 2018
The people of Rochdale have honoured arguably the most famous ship in the Royal Navy over the past century.

Veterans from HMS Ark Royal - a name synonymous with naval air power from the Great War until 2010 - were present as an avenue named after the carrier was formally named in a suburb of the Lancashire town.

After a short parade through the Castleton district, two miles from the town centre, HMS Ark Royal Avenue was dedicated.

The carrier in various incarnations was associated with Leeds - so why the honour in Lancashire?

Well, the avenue is located on the site of the former Whipp and Bourne factory - the firm which provided switchgear for Ark and other historic vessels including Titanic and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Former factory employees joined former Ark crew and other veterans, plus Castleton residents and schoolchildren, who laid wreaths on behalf of those who served in Ark Royals down the years.

It is brilliant that the council has invested so much time and money in these wonderful signs

Gregory Cranfield, HMS Ark Royal veteran

"It is brilliant that the council has invested so much time and money in these wonderful signs. They are a lasting legacy to Whipp and Bourne and everyone who served on the Ark Royal. It was a really moving and emotional day," said Gregory Cranfield, who served on the fifth HMS Ark Royal (the Harrier carrier) during the Gulf War.

"I was proud to play my part in keeping our seas and the UK peaceful and safe by serving on the Ark Royal."

Cllr Janet Emsley, Rochdale Council lead member for the Armed Forces, added: "It was particularly moving to see different generations of people present to witness the sign unveiling at this special event.

"Whipp and Bourne will always be synonymous with Castleton and the event was a vivid reminder of the major role it played in winning the peace and keeping our high seas safe.

"Thanks to everyone who supported the ceremony and a special mention to those who travelled from far and wide to join the celebration."

Images courtesy of Rochdale Council.

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