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Feature

Some people are convinced the Trafford Centre has thousands of body bags hidden beneath it

Have you heard this one?

Alex Watson

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There were reports a few years back that the Trafford Centre is not only home to designer shops and water features but also thousands body bags in the basement.

As a kid, the Trafford Centre was almost on par with Disneyland. Not only did it feel like the size of a small country, but it was also so decadent there was even a ship in it.

Looking back I think this is mostly just my childhood imagination running wild and creating a fantasy dreamland in the Trafford Centre. Going now is actually pretty stressful and that roundabout induces panic attacks.

Way back in 2002, when I was a bright-eyed and blissfully ignorant 6-year-old, a rumour circulated that the government had bought 5,000 body bags in case of a ‘terrorist chemical attack’, according to The Telegraph.

Credit: Mike Peel

This article reported that the body bags would be stored at ‘16 locations’, meaning they could be ‘distributed within minutes of a terrorist attack’.

The orders of the equipment reportedly came after the Home Office received a warning about ‘dirty’ bombs or poison gas that would cause large numbers of casualties in British cities. The alert was retracted to avoid fears and widespread public panic.

Apparently the army have dropped off 400 body bags at the Trafford Centre…

Posted by Jay Smith on Tuesday, 17 November 2015

According to Philip Ward, the managing director of the country’s leading manufacturer of emergency and rescue equipment at the time, Ferno UK, orders were for ‘huge’ quantities and were increasing by the day. The first big contract was in excess of £50 million worth of gear.

These reports were completely unrelated to the Trafford Centre at the time, but could offer us an explanation as to how this urban myth was created.

The report called for 16 unnamed locations which would house the 5,000 body bags.

Credit: Jonathan Palombo

Now, shopping centres are considered a prime target for terrorism. The 1996 IRA bomb occurred on a busy Saturday morning in Manchester’s main shopping area.

Across the world there have been numerous occurrences similar to the Manchester IRA bomb. There was the Omagh car bombing in 1998 which tragically killed 29 people and left 220 people with serious injuries.

A terror incident in Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi killed 67 and wounded 175 in 2013. While a non-terror related event killed 10 people and injured 36 in a shopping mall in Munich in July 2016.

Credit: Jonathan Hutchins

So there is a significant threat to shopping centres for whatever reason that may be. Perhaps it’s a hatred of Western capitalism, something that is significantly highlighted by shopping centres, or just because they’re almost guaranteed to be full of people.

The Trafford Centre isn’t the only shopping centre that has been rumoured to house hundreds of body bags beneath shoppers feet.

In the early nineties, rumours spread that management at Meadowhall in Sheffield kept a stash of them in case of an ‘IRA outrage in the centre’. There have also been near-identical claims in Cribbs Causeway and Bluewater.

So is it true, does the Trafford Centre really store something between 400 – 5,000 body bags in the basement?

Credit: TOOEDDD

Well, like most other shopping centres, The Trafford Centre has widely denied these reports on Twitter and Facebook, stating that they simply have ‘no truth to them’ and are an ‘urban myth’.

There’s also the small problem of not a single photo or video surfacing of them. With the number of workers in The Trafford Centre who bob down into the basement, from cleaners to caretakers to retail assistants, surely someone would’ve seen something and snapped a picture?

Despite this, the rumours must have started from something… 

Feature

Explore the abandoned Camelot theme park in these haunting photos

It could be a massive housing estate.

Alex Watson

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@pollyann27 / Instagram

Research shows that nearly £800m of unlocked property potential sits inside the abandoned Camelot theme park site.

Set over 140 acres, research suggests the area that was once Camelot could hold 6,294 properties with an average price of £126,000.

This equates to £793,016,000 of potential property value if a scheme could be arranged. 

However, the building of well over 6,000 properties is a huge scale production, unlikely ever to get approval – but there clearly a lot of potential for the area that just sits abandoned. 

Camelot Theme Park
Adele/Flickr

The research by togethermoney.com into derelict properties includes the Chorley based Camelot theme park in a list of similar abandoned properties all over the world, including Germany, China, Japan and even Namibia. 

The research states: “Inspired by the legend of Camelot, the UK theme park located three miles from Chorley opened its doors in 1983 and operated until November 2012 when due to declining visitor numbers the park closed for good.

“Whilst certain rollercoasters were sold to theme parks around Europe, many of the rides remain abandoned seven years later. ‘Urban explorers’, whilst warned off the site, are regularly found walking the tracks of the decaying rollercoasters, avoiding the 24/7 security that roam the perimeter.

“Several planning applications for housing estates have been submitted and subsequently rejected by Chorley Council, the most recent in March 2018.”

Camelot has been abandoned for years now, collecting dust and looking seriously creepy.

You can explore the park in these haunting photos:

camelot theme park 025
Scrappy nw/Flickr
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR
Camelot Theme Park
ADELE/FLICKR

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Feature

Northern accents are all starting to sound the same, new study finds

This is weird!

Alex Watson

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David Dixon/Geograph

A new study at the University of Manchester shows that all Northern accents are beginning to sound the same.

Linguistics expert Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk and colleagues from the university have suggested that accents from the North of England are beginning to blend into one.

The study set out to uncover whether there was such a thing as ‘General Northern English’, something they have called the general accent spoken by the middle-class folk of the North.

Dr Strycharczuk said: “I often hear statements like ‘I’m from Liverpool / Manchester / Sheffield, but I don’t have the accent’ – however, there is very little systematic evidence that General Northern English really is a coherent variety, so that’s the question we asked ourselves.”

The study examined the accents of people from Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and more with the results struggling to find a difference between the accents, only finding that those from Liverpool and Newcastle have a more distinct accent.

The study also found that much of the traditional dialect isn’t present anymore, but typical characteristics of a general Northern accent are retained such as shortening words like ‘bath’ and ‘glass’.

Dr Strycharczuk added: “It may seem as though local accents are dying out, but we believe we’re actually seeing a new variety becoming established – educated, urban and northern.

“I think its prestige has increased, and people are now less tempted to lose their accent if they’ve been to university or they do a lot of public speaking.”

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Feature

What the chancellor’s summer statement will mean for you and your family

Everything you need to know…

Alex Watson

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Bill Boaden / Geograph

Rishi Sunak has announced today the economic schemes for post-coronavirus, and they include some pretty big changes.

Mr Sunak announced a £2bn kickstart scheme designed to create jobs, incentives for businesses to bring people off furlough, VAT cuts, a stamp duty holiday plus more.

Details of how this package will be paid for – by tax increases and borrowing – are expected to be unveiled in the chancellor’s Autumn budget.

Here’s a breakdown of his main points:

Furlough

Members of the public who have been placed on furlough as part of the government’s Job Retention Scheme are aware that this is coming to end in October, but many people have been concerned for the future of their jobs.

Mr Sunak today announced an incentive for businesses to bring back those employees that are on furlough, with a £1,000 bonus for every person they bring back into the workplace.

He said: “So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January – the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in National Insurance.”

Employment

The chancellor has also announced a £2 billion kickstart scheme that will pay employers to create jobs for people aged between 18 and 24. The government emphasised that they need to be ‘good jobs’, and the government will pay six months of wages plus an amount to cover overheads. The grant for a 24-year-old will be around £6,500. 

There will also be a new £2,000 payment to firms who take on apprentices. This is alongside an unspecified amount of funding for career advisors.

On top of that, there’ll be traineeships to get young people ready for work, including work experience placements and work preparation for 16-24-year olds. 

Tourism & Hospitality

The chancellor has cut VAT for the tourism and hospitality sectors on food, accommodation and attractions from the usual 20% to 5%, which will come into effect from next Wednesday and last until January 2021.

Mr Sunak has also announced that everyone in the country will be given 50% off meal and drinks for the whole of August through a ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme.

This scheme sees a 50% reduction up to a value of £10 per head on sit down meals and non-alcoholic drinks Monday to Wednesday.

The chancellor hopes this will get 1.8 million people who work in the hospitality industry back in jobs and ‘customers back in restaurants, cafes and pubs’.

Businesses can claim the money back from the government and the funds will appear in their bank account within five working days.

More details on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme are yet to be confirmed.

It is currently being debated as to whether the reduced VAT will be passed onto the consumer in lower prices as many in the sector will consider this as an opportunity to shore up their finances and ail their business.

Buying a Home

If you’re in the market for house-buying, the chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday which could save you thousands.

The rate at which stamp duty will be placed on a home has been increased from the usual £125,000 to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland, with immediate effect until March 31st.

The stamp duty holiday hopes to get people buying houses again, a sector which suffered a big drought throughout coronavirus.

The chancellor explained that on average people buying a home could save £4,500, and current homeowners moving on could see savings as big as £14,999.

Many people have expressed concerns regarding how this will help first-time buyers. Around 16% of housing sales in England are not liable for stamp duty as is the case with first-time buyers.

Currently, first-time buyers only pay a 5% stamp duty on houses between £300,000 and £500,000 which means this scheme will not affect new buyers directly.

Those buying a new home or second home will reap the benefits of this scheme.

Green Home Grant

Mr Sunak has announced a budget for home improvements that will help your home become ‘greener’, for instance, double glazing, eco-friendly boilers, low-energy lighting, energy-efficient doors and loft, floor or wall insulation.

The scheme will start in September and will see the government pay for at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, up to a value of £5,000.

Low-income households are expected to receive a larger contribution of up to £10,000.

This is expected to create new jobs and enable the UK to achieve its 2050 goal of net-zero carbon emissions. More information can be found here.

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