Carnival time

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By Nigel Thornton nigel.thornton@peter­bor­oughto­ Twit­ter: @PTnigelthorn­ton 01733 588714

Reader David Boul­ton was prompted to get in touch af­ter see­ing the pic­ture of HMS Sprat on the Nene. David is a founder mem­ber of the Perkins Her­itage Group and is also the au­thor of the com­pany’s his­tory A Square Deal All Round.

With his ex­pert knowl­edge here­vealed howPerkin­shada vi­tal role to play in the story of mini-sub­marines.

He told me: “Your pic­ture in the Tele­graph will re­mind many old timers who worked at Perkins En­gines in the1950s of a spe­cial con­nec­tion with the men of the Royal Navy.

“The story ac­tu­ally starts in the early days of the war­when a se­cret project was launched to de­velop small sub­marines which could be used to pen­e­trate deep into en­emy ter­ri­tory and at­tack ship­ping.

“The first pro­to­type was launched in March 1942 as‘ X 3’ and was fit­ted with a Perkins P4 en­gine.

“Tests proved promis­ing and X4 was launched later in 1942, hav­ing grown in length, weight and num­ber of crew.

“Af­ter some suc­cess­ful tri­als a small pro­duc­tion batch of craft was com­pleted and num­bered X 5 to X 10.

“Un­for­tu­nately for Perkins these craft were fit­ted with Gard­ner en­gines, as was a later batch des­ig­nated X20 to X25. These craft took part in raids, in­clud­ing the fa­mous suc­cess­ful at­tack on the Ger­man navy’s ‘Tir­pitz’- this raid has been well-doc­u­mented in book and filmAbove Us The Waves. The two Perkin­spow­ered pro­to­type craft re­mained in ser­vice and were used for train­ing, even­tu­ally be­ing scrapped in 1945.

“This was not how­ever the end of the Perkins part in the story. A reawak­en­ing of in­ter­est in small sub­marines in the early 1950s saw the Ad­mi­ralty com­mis­sion the de­sign of a new craft. The X-51 Class was de­signed and four subs were built by Vick­ers Arm­strong Lim­ited in Bar­row-in­Fur­ness.

“These craft were all fit­ted with the iconic Perkins P6(M) en­gine and were launched as ‘HMS Stick­le­back ’( X -51), HMS Shrimp (X-52), HMS Sprat (X53) and HMS Min­now (X54).

“They each car­ried a crew of four or five and could carry de­layed ac­tion mines or limpet mines.

“The­lit­tle flotilla sawser­vice with the Roy­alN avy, be­fore be­ing dis­banded in the late 1950s.

“HMS Stick­le­back was sold to the Swedish Navy on 15th July 1958 and re­named ‘Spiggen’ - she was op­er­ated for anti-sub­ma­rine train­ing for some years be­fore be­ing do­nated to the Im­pe­rial War Mu­seum in 1976.

“Even that is not the end of her story be­cause the par­tially-sec­tioned sub­ma­rine is on dis­play at Dux­ford to­day with the ven­er­a­ble P6en­gineclearly vis­i­ble.

“Your pho­to­graph shows HMS Sprat tied up at the Cus­toms House af­ter a voy­age up the Ne ne in Novem­ber 1957 on an of­fi­cial visit to Peter­bor­oug­hand, of course­toPerkins.

“The com­pany and work­ers adopted the flotilla and mem­bers of the crews vis­ited the East­field plant and the of­fices at Peter­scourt.

“For many years a large pic­ture of‘ Sprat’ was on dis­play at Peter­scourt and a badge from Sprat is in the pos­ses­sion of the Perkins Her­itage Group, along with pho­to­graphs of these sub­marines.’’

David has kindly sup­plied, with the per­mis­sion of Perkins, an­other pic­ture of oneof the­sub­marines, an­dal­so­some gen­eral pictures of city life.

The top pic­ture shows Bridge Street carnival in the early 1950s.

The pic­ture be­low it is of Cathe­dral Square taken around 1970.

The fi­nal pic­ture shows the Cus­tom House and some old­naval craft.

Many thanks to David for the in­for­ma­tion and pictures.

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