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Lancashire At

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

Tanks hidden in Halliwell countryside

One thing we are trying to do with this site is record little known stories (as well as sites) from World War Two. So we were excited to read about tanks hidden in the Bolton countryside in Alan Simpson's book 'One Mile Of History'.


We contacted Alan and he kindly took us to the spot where he had, in his childhood, seen the tanks and told us the story. He regularly went for walks with his grandpa and when asked if he wanted to see some tanks, "real tanks Grandpa, with guns on top?", he jumped at the chance.


They walked up to 'Bob's Smithy' on Chorley Old Road - a pub on a crossroads and there were the tanks on Old Kiln Lane a tree lined road surrounded by fields. Alan describes it in his book "I looked across the road to Old Kiln Lane, which had a steel gate across the entrance and to my amazement, on the other side of the gate, as far as I could see, were hundreds of tanks and various military vehicles."


There is a contemporary photo in his book, page 15, courtesy of Bolton News showing the gate and the military vehicles behind. It is surprising this exists, bearing in mind the censorship of the time. The site looks a little different today - the junction has been widened and the setts covered by tarmac. But it is still fields all around, and Bob's Smithy still stands on the junction.

Alan Simpson book
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ABOVE: The junction of Old Kiln Lane (ahead) where the tanks were kept and Chorley Old Road in the foreground.

Alan's recollection of that day does not end there, however. He goes on to say in his book, that as they were about to leave, the sky to the south "turned orange with flashing lights" and he and his grandpa stood for around fifteen minutes and watched "this amazing light show" which he later learned was the bombing of Salford by the Luftwaffe.


If you want to hear Alan tell his story - you can at All Souls in Bolton. The former church is now "a conference, office, learning and community space" and it has a very good history wall with lots of exhibits and information about local history. Included in this are several touch screen TV sets which have recordings of local people telling their stories, and one of these includes Alan's story.


For more information go to

ABOVE: Old Kiln Lane where the tanks were seen under the trees.

RIGHT & BELOW: All Souls, Bolton

These pages, all text and photographs, unless stated, are the copyright of The Brothers B. No reproduction is allowed in any form without prior written permission

One last thought: Where did the tanks come from?

Could it have been from the relatively nearby Horwich Loco Works where they built tanks during WW2?

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