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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, June 24, 2006
    Picnic on the M6

    Jim and Dave revisiting a familiar place today - enjoying a picnic in the expanse of land between the two carriageways where the M6 splits, looking across to where truckers used to take the old A6 through the high hills of Shap, at great risk to themselves.

    The exhibition at Shap Heritage Centre was worth the journey - a range of photographs showing just how treacherous was this route before global warming, when snow and ice were regular features and when wagons were far less built for safety than they are today. And the traffic was heavier, because this was the only main route north. Crashes, deaths, and the mutilation of fences, fields and flesh were common. Lorry driving, then as now, was very tough work.

    So today was a pilgrimage to pay tribute to those hard working hauliers and those who built the roads which carried them through such inhospitable country. And the exhibition also reminded us of some other hard workers of Shap - the navvies who built the railway which the M6 now follows as it carries West Coast travellers to and from Glasgow. Many men died on that speculative project, and though their names are not recorded, their memory is preserved in a stone at St Michael's Church. So we paid our respects today.