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U-534 @ Birkenhead. (Caution- Photo Intensive)

Discussion in 'Everything Else Heritage' started by Phil Jones, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Phil Jones

    Phil Jones Member

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    U-534 @ Birkenhead. Old news, Semi recent photos. (Caution- Photo Intensive)

    Firstly let me apologise for the number of photos loaded into this post. Personally I’m not really a boat person however I find wrecks like this simply fascinating. The detail that can be seen in some of the pictures is quite magnificent.

    Now, as some of you may or may not be aware, in 1993 a team sponsored by a Danish millionaire raised U-534 off the bottom of the sea amid rumours she was carrying large quantities of Nazi gold. As fate would have it, this materialised to be just rumours and 534 was carrying nothing other than what was to be expected. After removal of dangerous items such as torpedoes and ammunition, U-534 was transported to the Warship Preservation Trust at Birkenhead. Unfortunately this closed in 2006 and all the exhibits except U-534 was moved. A search to find 534 a new home began. This was not helped when her Danish owners put a 5 million euro price tag on her and all of her contents. With no buyer coming forward, and the ground rent bill really starting to add up, it was declared by the owners to cut her up and sell her as scrap. Cutting crews were assembled and her destruction was scheduled. Having been past the rusty wreak of U-534 many times, I realised I had never photographed her. By the time I had waited for a sunny afternoon to get my last glimpse of her in one piece, Mersey travel had come up with a plan to put 534 on display and make abit of an attraction from her. This plan meant cutting her into 5 sections. By the time I took these pictures, the special cutting team had already began painting and preparing her for the cut. I had wanted to photograph her in the rusty stated she was raised in however I was about a week too late.

    When I arrived, the only side that was viewable was in shade. I therefore decided to try my luck and sneak through a gap in the fence and hope the small team working never noticed. This worked a treat until later on.
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    A close up of the forward torpedo tubes reveals the effects of resting on the sea bed for over 50 years. Notice the numbers on the top right hand corner.
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    The stern section.
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    The large cast support holding the Port Screw in position has been broken in half in 2 places. I presume this happened when she hit the Sea bed nearly 63 years ago
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    Lying around on the floor was quite a lot stuff that had been removed from U-534. I was told by one of the “nice” chaps (albeit it not the one who chased me) that this was one of the trolleys used for moving torpedoes around the ship. Why (or even how) they got it out I do not know.
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    My apologises for the quality of this picture. This is what sank U-534. One of the depth charges dropped by a British B-24 Liberator landed on the deck of U-534. As it rolled off it exploded directly next to U-534 resulting in massive flooding. The yellow line incidentally, is one of the cut lines.
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    Once 534 had been cut up and moved, I returned to see what “damaged” had been done. This is what I found.

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    I must say the cut itself is most impressive as can be seen here.
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    I believe before making one of the cuts through the fuel tanks, the team had to remove nearly 15,000 litres of fuel. I find it incredible that this was still on-board after all these years of lying on the sea bea.

    From what I’ve seen of the “new display” at Woodside, they are restoring the exterior of U-534 to the closest thing you could get to “as built” condition. They seem to be using alot of new metal on the hull, and certainly alot of the holes and pitting in the bow and decking section are now none existent.
     
  2. RalphW

    RalphW Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    Stunning quality pictures as ever Phil.
     
  3. GHWood

    GHWood Member

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    Great pics - thanks for posting! Where will she be when the 'cutting' is finished? Any idea when it's opening?
     
  4. Thompson1706

    Thompson1706 Well-Known Member

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    This heap of scrap metal should not have been put at Woodside ferry terminal,where it sits in what used to be the ferry car park. Merseytravel should stick to operating our public transport & not dabbling in preservation, which this project shows their complete lack of knowledge of.
    The sub has been cut into sections only because it could not be moved in one piece, or displayed in one piece due to the compact size of the site.Imagine the outcry if the quad-art set had been restored Then put in 4 separate sidings for public viewing.
    There are many projects more relevant to Merseyside than a U-Boat. This is the equivalent of erecting a concentration camp museum in Israel. Thosands of Merseyside seamen were killed by these ships & a lot of local people still have bad memories of them.
    Best plan would be to remove the glory-hunting bus mechanic who runs Merseytravel & use future funds for ships or railway items nominated by the people who fund them - the residents of Merseyside.

    Bob.
     
  5. Phil Jones

    Phil Jones Member

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    534 is located next to the Woodside Ferry Terminal not far from Birkenhead. As far as I can remember, the new "U boat story" attraction / exhibition was due to open late February. I'm not sure whether they are on target to meet that date so dont quote me on that.
     
  6. MEJ

    MEJ New Member

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    In many respects it is sad that the U-Boat has been cut up as it was far more historic whole! However, Birkenheads agenda for preservation seems completely mad as the cost of moving this U-Boat, must have been astronomical for very low value result! The U-Boat was transported from the bottom of the sea to Birkenhead in one piece so why chop it up now to move it? I would surely have been better to sell it on whole to a submarine museum? As Bob says- U-Boats are not fondly remembered or regarded on Merseyside by anyone who remembers or has studied WW2. Ironically, HMS Whimbrel, a U-Boat hunter sloop, was due to be preserved in Liverpool but has sadly fallen through, so we are left with an Nazi vessel as a reminder of the lives lost and suffering caused during the Battle of the Atlantic, not a very fitting memorial...
     
  7. CDR Class 5

    CDR Class 5 New Member

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    i don't think U boats are fondly remembered anywhere but they are a part of history id also call it a memorial to submariners of all nations who failed to return home.
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Part of the furniture Account Suspended

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    Thompson1706 is 100% right. PTE's were set up and equipped with powers to operate public transport systems - not to play at being museums.

    The tramway and other museum activities in Birkenhead are far more at risk after their dabbling than they ever were before - I can only hope that the proper separation of activities is restored and that museum and heritage transport come under the proper management focus that they need.
     
  9. ADB968008

    ADB968008 Guest

    I remember seeing this whole as a child not long after it arrived in birkenhead.
    Seeing the pictures reminded me of what a rusting hulk it was!

    However for a "more complete" view I really recommend walking through the interior of U505 in Chicago's history museum (and its free), it has most intact components and layout.
    By comparison there is also the USS NautilUs, on the River Thames (Conneticut, US that is)...

    Why can't we have American style museums here in the UK!

    It could be worse, it could always be Polish style preservation...

    This was taken from the museum at Jaworzyne Slaska, and set up to the heavens..

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.416709241685.188562.360008631685

    And before hand...
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/15632944@N00/810880225/
     

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