This is a work of fiction created for the Twilight 2000 Role Playing Game. Original material © Dave Ross

North West England

10. North West England


RGHQ: Goosenargh, nr Preston, Lancashire


Alternate RGHQ: Hack Green, nr Crewe, Cheshire


Counties: Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside


Nuclear Targets: Blackburn, Bolton, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Rochdale, Stockport, Warrington, Wigan


A mix of rural and urban landscape, two large conurbations, centred on Liverpool and Manchester, occupy much of the south of the region. The north of the region, comprising Cumbria and northern Lancashire, is largely rural, as is the far south which encompasses parts of the Cheshire Plain and Peak District. The southern part of the region was hit particularly hard during the 1998 nuclear exchanges (more mega tonnage was dropped on the north west during the War than any other part of the UK, including London), and even those cities that were not direct targets of nuclear attack suffered catastrophically over the winter of 1998 / 1999, with the death toll rising as the region suffered from disorder, disease, and acute shortages of water, food, and shelter. Whilst the north has remained relatively stable, the south is perhaps the most dangerous area in the UK; it is still inhabited by small groups of survivors who try to eke out an existence in what remains of the towns and cities, whilst numerous bands of marauders infest region. Life is cheap, with murder, rape, and theft all everyday occurrences and any sort of travel extremely hazardous.


Greater Manchester / Merseyside


The third most populous urban area in the UK before the War (after London and Birmingham) and a major economic, cultural, and sporting centre, Greater Manchester included the Boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan as well as the Cities of Manchester and Salford, while Merseyside included the Liverpool Urban Area, which included the Port of Liverpool, the UK's seventh largest seaport. The area escaped the 1997 nuclear strikes (although it did suffer from widespread civil disorder, which the authorities struggled to contain) but it would not be so fortunate the following year however; Manchester was the first City in the UK targeted in the 1998 strikes, closely followed by Liverpool, and much of the rest of Greater Manchester suffered the same fate in the days that followed.


Wild and unsubstantiated rumours about the devastated cities are rife throughout the north west, Some say that the rubble of Manchester is ruled by a gang led by a man calling himself King Garry who torture and eat any prisoners that they capture. Others claim that an organised enclave exists in Salford which is led by Detective Inspector Gene Hunt, a former officer in the Greater Manchester Police Force. Also common are claims of hidden caches - dependent on the person spreading the rumour these caches may consist of food supplies, weapons, or gold. With few brave enough - or foolish enough - to venture into what is left of the cities (and many of those who do never return), so these rumours remain largely substantiated.


Lancashire / Cheshire


The County town of Lancashire, Lancaster is controlled by a group known as the Red Rose Militia (the Red Rose having been the emblem of Lancashire since the 15th Century). Whilst they claim to be a defence militia, they are effectively marauders; armed with a motley assortment of firearms, many stolen from the military and police, and operating a number of alcohol fuelled vehicles they dominate the area known as the Fylde, a coastal plain that is bordered by the M6 Motorway to the east, claiming "taxes" from the towns and villages in exchange for "security. These taxes generally take the form of food, water, alcohol fuels, or other supplies, although of late Croft has also started conscripting young men and women as part of a community's "tax" - the men are drafted into the ranks of the Red Rose Militia, whilst the women are forced to provide the group with a range of services.


In an attempt to claim a degree of legitimacy, the group has installed a pre war Member of Parliament, Martin Fielding, as its puppet leader. An MP in Manchester, he was taken prisoner by the marauders in 1999, and agreed to serve as their figurehead to save his life. The group’s real leader is a man called Jason Croft. Supported by a number of former soldiers and local strongmen. Croft's ambition is to rule the north west, and under his leadership the Red Rose Militia is steadily growing in strength. With the road north effectively blocked by the Cumbrians (Croft has sent spies to Kendal and Carlisle and knows his group would not stand a chance in a pitched battle with Cumbrian forces) Croft's attention has turned to the south; his next goal is to secure control of Preston, which is currently occupied by a number of different gangs, the largest of which is known as the North Preston Front. Conflict between the Red Rose Militia and the North Preston Front is only a matter of time.


Southern Cheshire is slightly more stable, thanks largely to the presence of two different groups in neighbouring counties - to the south east in Staffordshire several hundred soldiers are based in the towns of Stoke on Trent and Newcastle under Lyme, whilst to the west lies the Welsh border, nominally closed and patrolled by the Army of Wales. Whilst neither force actively patrols in Cheshire their presence has been sufficient to drive the worst elements of the marauders further north. To the west of the M6 Crewe and Cheshire have both emerged as Free Cities, albeit with mere fractions of their pre War populations. Neither City has any semblance of order - the strong simply take what they wish from the weak. East of the M6, Macclesfield is under the control of a vicious group of marauders known as the Mac Lads.


British Aerospace had two major sites in the region before the War; Warton in Lancashire carried out upgrades to the RAF's Tornado and Harrier fleets, and was also planned to be heavily involved in the Eurofighter programme, whilst Samlesbury, located between Preston and Blackburn, was a production site for the T45 Goshawk, as the BAE Hawk was known in US service. Both sites suffered damage from conventional air attack at the start of the War, and have subsequently been utterly ransacked by looters, with nothing of value remaining. Elsewhere, Cheshire was home to two salt mines, one of which, Middlewich, was the largest in the UK. Production at both mines was halted at the end of 1997, and both are now in a considerable state of disrepair. Also in Cheshire was the Radway Green Royal Ordnance Factory, which manufactured small arms ammunition (9mm, 5.56N and 7.62N) for the British armed forces. Located approximately ten miles from Stoke on Trent, the factory has been visited several times by British troops based there and nothing of value remains, although rumours persist of the presence in the area of hidden caches of ammunition and weapons.


Cumbria


The County Town of Cumbria, Carlisle is located 10 miles south of the Scottish border, and had a pre War population of over 70,000 people, with another 30,000 living in the wider environs. With no major military or industrial targets, the City escaped nuclear attack in both 1997 and 1998, and although it has suffered from food shortages and disease, its current population stands at approximately 50,000 people and it is in the fortunate position of having a modest surplus food production, which is supplemented by trade with the rich agricultural areas the Lake District and southern Scotland.


Carlisle has been a Free City since the start of 1999, and its location means it now serves as a major trading centre for merchants throughout the north of England and southern Scotland to meet at what has become known as the Carlisle Markets, where a thriving barter trade exists in goods and foodstuffs, including many rare / luxury items. The City remains under the control of its pre War local Government, the Carlisle City Council, the leader of which is Councillor Alan Hill of the Labour Party. Carlisle City General Hospital remains open, although drugs and medical supplies are in short supply. In early 2000 Carlisle’s leadership agreed a mutual defence alliance with the towns of Dumfries and Kendal, both of which had raised their own militia forces. Each municipality would remain responsible for its own affairs and defence, but should any one be attacked, the others would rally to their defence, and together could muster a combined force of some fifteen hundred armed soldiers, at least half of whom are former military or police personnel.


To guarantee its security Carlisle has a force of some seven hundred men under arms, mostly former police officers or Territorial Army and Home Service Force soldiers, supported by a handful of RAF and Royal Observer Corps personnel (Carlisle was home to a small RAF maintenance unit and 22 Group, Royal Observer Corps). Most of the Territorial troops are drawn from the 4th Battalion, the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment (4 KORBR). A locally recruited TA Battalion with a home defence role, 4 KORBR was deployed in the area around Lancaster and Preston on internal security and disaster relief missions during 1998. In the aftermath of the second wave of nuclear exchanges in September and October 1998 much of the region descended into anarchy, and, acting under its own authority, the main body of the Battalion withdrew in good order back to Cumbria so the troops could ensure the security of their homes and families. 4 KORBR has established its HQ in Carlisle Castle, and carries out regular patrols beyond the City’s perimeter both in vehicles and, increasingly, on horseback. These patrols are tasked with helping farmers to protect their land by keeping the main roads and surrounding countryside clear of both refugees and marauders alike and operate as far north as Dumfries in Scotland, where the Cumbrian troops are welcome visitors, and as far south as Kendal. Since mid 1999 a permanent detachment of troops has been based in the town of Penrith.


In January 2000 two MI5 officers entered Carlisle. Posing as a married couple, they have established themselves in the City and have begun to send regular reports back to Winchester.


Elsewhere in Cumbria, the town of Barrow-in-Furness was home to Vickers Shipbuilding, who built almost all of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines as well as a number of surface combatants. Whilst the shipyards have been stripped of most easy to carry items, much of the heavy industrial facilities that could not be taken off site remain relatively intact. Barrow also receives occasional seaborne visitors from the Isle of Man, North Wales, and, less frequently, Ireland, most of whom have come to trade at the Carlisle Markets. Further up the coast is the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site, which was built to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste products. The site was safely shut down at the end of 1997, and small amounts radioactive waste remain there in safe storage. A small contingent of civilian police officers (less than a dozen men and women) from the Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary have remained. Armed with MP5 submachine guns and L85A1 assault rifles, they provide a degree of security for the site, although far more effective are the rumours that are in widespread circulation that the area is highly radioactive and lingering there for any period of time risks exposure to lethal doses of radiation. The AEAC officers are well aware of these rumours (which are false), and actively encourage them, patrolling in full NBC gear if they think they are being observed. Also part of the Sellafield site is Calder Hall nuclear power station, which was also brought safely offline at the end of 1997. Sellafield was also a flagship research and development site, and a number of staff and scientists continue to live in the local area, primarily the communities along the coast, although some can be found in Carlisle and Kendal.


To the south of Carlisle is the area known as the Lake District. As well as the large number of Lakes that give it its name, the region is also mountainous, containing the highest peak in England, Scaffell Pike. Communities in the Lake District tend to be rural and relatively isolated, and in the wake of the nuclear exchanges have become self sufficient. They have also become insular; small numbers or refugees have attempted to enter the area but have found outsiders are not welcome. Most have been turned away, often at the end of a shotgun. Before the War one of the main industries was sheep farming (the other was tourism), and Lake District sheep farmers are a regular sight at the Carlisle Markets, trading wool and mutton. The largest town in the region is Kendal, which currently has a population of just over 15,000 and effectively forms the border between the relative stability of Cumbria and the anarchy and disorder that lies farther south. The southern approaches to the town are heavily fortified, and guarded by the town’s militia force to defend against marauders (and refugees) encroaching from the devastated towns of the north west.