‘Caliban’ was completed by the Peckett works in February 1937 for Courtaulds, Preston.
On 2 May 1973 ex-Courtaulds large Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban hauled the first trains on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
Arrived at RSR 14th July 2015
Courtaulds was a manufacturer of fabric, clothing, artificial fibres, and chemicals. It was established in 1794 and became the world’s leading man-made fibre production company before being broken up in 1990 into Courtaulds plc and Courtaulds Textiles Ltd.
‘Caliban’ worked at a large rayon production facility, called the Red Scar mill, Preston. The main product was tyrecord. It employed around 4,000 people. It was decommissioned in 1980. The process involved at the Red Scar mill was twofold: the production of industrial yarn—viscose yarn—and textile yarn. The industrial yarn, which comprised about half of the operation, was used specifically for tyres.
The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the proportion of cars imported from abroad had substantially increased. That had a direct impact on companies whose main life was in supplying the British car industry. The figures show the penetration of imported cars into the United Kingdom. In 1974 that represented 30 per cent.. By 1978 it had risen to no less than 56 per cent. The tyres were imported “on the hoof”—on the car as it arrives—and part of the market is therefore closed to the British producer.
There was the tragedy of the British motor car industry itself. The potential market should have been greater, but the fall in passenger car production in Britain between 1976 and 1978 was no less than 110,000.
The Red Scar mill was greatly tied to the success of the British tyre-making industry. On closure 2,600 people lost their jobs.
The locomotive was preserved, being taken to Steamtown Carnforth when its working life at Courtaulds was over. Alan Middleton and John Houghton, who at the time were respectively secretary and chairman of the Lancashire Railway Circle purchased Caliban from Courtaulds. ‘Caliban’ was saved and made her way north to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. She is now in the care and restoration of the Furness Railway Trust at Preston.
The locomotive is currently in a non-public area whilst her restoration continues.