SOME of the biggest loads ever to be moved on British roads inched their way across Barrow Island as BAE Systems built three ships in giant sections for the Royal Navy.

Between 1999 and 2001 bus shelters and bollards were removed and replaced on a regular basis as huge pieces of Wave Knight, Albion and Bulwark were moved from Devonshire Dock Hall to berths at the side of Walney Channel.

The loads came in all shapes but only one size - massive.

The Mail, on Thursday, May 4 in 2000, noted: "The heaviest load ever moved along a British road made its way safely from Barrow's Devonshire Dock Hall to the slipway on Walney Channel today where two Royal Navy ships are being built.

"The 2,162-tonne engine room section of the assault ship Albion left the DDH at precisely 9.30am to begin its snail's-pace journey along North Road and Bridge Road to the slipway.

"North Road was closed from Craven roundabout to Jubilee Bridge approach, as were Bridge Road and Jubilee Bridge to and from Walney.

"The operation was carried out by Brambles Industrial Services, the abnormal-load specialists from Teeside.

"The giant ship section was carried on a 320-wheeled transporter and guided by remote control by two radio operators.

"Scores of people assembled in Channelside Haven to see the load begin its journey, many taking photographs or videoing the operation."

The weight record for a load on a public road went to BAE Systems again in November 2000 when two joined section for Bulwalk were moved weighing 2,400 tonnes.

In January 2001 it was a big chunk of Bulwark which was causing a stir.

The Mail, on January 11, noted: "A convoy of lorries removed and lifted on board bus shelters, street signs and bollards to give the load a clear path.

"The 2,000-tonne block of the amphibious assault ship set off at 9.30am.

"Loaded on special transporters, it measured around 100ft high (29m), 80ft long (25m) and 96ft wide (30m)."

These precise moves generally went without a hitch but in December 1999 a delay in moving a section of Wave Knight brought an apology to motorists and Barrow Island families.

The 1,600-tonne tanker section set off an hour late and took 40 minutes to reach its destination, the first time there had been a substantial delay.