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History of Lancaster (1983: Doomsday)

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The following is the history of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Pre-Doomsday

Lancashire was a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the north-west of England. It took its name from the city of Lancaster, and was sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster was still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council was based in Preston. The population of the county according to the 1981 census was about 1,076,146.

The history of Lancashire is thought to have begun with its founding in the 12th century. In the Domesday Book (1086), some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the rivers Mersey and Ribble formed part of the returns for Cheshire. Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire and Cheshire. Lancashire emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a major commercial and industrial region. The county encompassed several hundred mill towns and collieries. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire.

The county was subject to a significant boundary reform in 1974, which removed Liverpool and Manchester with most of their surrounding conurbations to form part of the metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester. At this time, the detached northern part of Lancashire in the Lake District, including the Furness Peninsula and Cartmell, was made part of Cumbria.

The Pre-Doomsday Duchy of Lancaster was one of two remaining royal duchies in the United Kingdom. It had large landholdings throughout the region and elsewhere, and operated as a property company, but also exercised the right of the Crown in the County Palatine of Lancaster, which included areas that were removed from Lancashire as part of the 1974 boundary changes. There was no separate Duke of Lancaster, the title having merged in the Crown many centuries ago – but the Duchy was administered by the Queen in Right of the Duchy of Lancaster. The duchy was not the property of The Crown, but was instead the personal property of the monarch and had been since 1399, when the Dukedom of Lancaster, held by Henry of Bolingbroke, merged with the crown on his appropriation of the throne.

Doomsday

In the early hours of 26th September 1983, nuclear weapons started detonating over the UK. In the north-west of England, the major detonations were:

  • Manchester - second wave (200 KT), re-hit with third wave (100 KT)
  • Liverpool - (200 KT), hit to the north of the city, over Aintree.

There were also a number of small yield (5-10 KT) tactical nukes hitting various military targets and one industrial one in the area, most of which were in the vicinity of the town of Preston. These included:

  • The port at Barrow-in-Furness
  • Burtonwood Army Depot
  • ROF Blackburn (actually at Lower Darwen)
  • RAF Barton Hall
  • ROF Chorley (actually north of the village of Euxton and over four miles north of Chorley)
  • DCSA Radio Inskip
  • Samlesbury Aerodrome
  • Warton Aerodrome
  • Weeton Barracks
  • Springfields nuclear fuels plant at Salwick (due to the site itself containing radioactive materials, the resulting fallout was both slightly more widespread then would be expected of a low yield nuke and a lot heavier).

Fortunately, while the centre of the county took heavy damage, apart from Barrow-in-Furness, the north of Lancashire survived relatively unscathed.

Aftermath

The northernmost part of the county, which included the city of Lancaster and the surrounding towns of Morecambe, Bare, and Heysham, was relatively unaffected by the blasts and the resulting fallout. In addition, they were far enough away from other major population centers to delay the influx of refugees for several days, long enough for the authorities and population to get to grips with the situation. Even when it did occur, the number of refugees was far from overwhelming and this combined with the already relatively low population allowed order to be maintained and supplies rationed relatively easily.

The towns to the south of the county were not as fortunate for several reasons. Firstly the far closer proximity of the nuclear blasts caused greater panic then farther north and resulted in greater radiation exposure (in particular, the town of Blackburn was hit by fallout from two sites while Preston got fallout from three sides), and secondly the larger population combined with an influx of refugees, who were often injured and/or suffering radiation poisoning, from the areas closest to the blasts, combined with certain opportunistic criminal elements made keeping order and rationing supplies problematic and served to increase a death toll that was already high due to radiation poisoning and injury. Although not stated openly at the time, it is later recognized that in a rather twisted way the fact that a lot of the largest towns had the highest number of fatalities in relation to their population size was almost a blessing in disguise since it almost certainly helped to prevent total starvation amongst the survivours. Simply put, the fewer people there were, the more food there was to go around.

Contact was lost between the various parts of the county immediately after Doomsday due to a combination of EMP and the electricity supply going dead. Contact was not re-established for well over a week, as people followed the advice of the government to stay indoors for a minimum of three days after a nuclear attack, followed by a period of staying close to their own towns while those in charge worked out what to do next. Eventually contact was gradually re-established by scouts from the various major towns, with contact with various towns in central Lancashire, such as Preston, Blackburn and Chorley, being further delayed by the necessity of avoiding the worst areas of radioactivity around the towns, while contact with the southernmost part of the county remained unestablished for several years.

After Doomsday

Shortly after communications were re-established in the county, it became clear that the same was not going to occur with the rest of the UK any time soon. To the south and south-east was a radioactive wasteland, while to the north and east the distance to another major population centre was deemed too great to be attempted given the limited supply of fuel and the uncertainty of even finding anyone. Additionally, traveling any distance to the east would require crossing the Apennines and by this time winter was starting to draw in. The inhabitants of Lancashire realized that for the foreseeable future they would have to go it alone.

Late 1983

  • Martial law is declared
  • Food stocks, including stores of animal feed that can be re-purposed for human consumption are assessed and judged to be capable of lasting for nine to ten months with extremely careful rationing (although it wasn't admitted at the time, the future death toll was factored into this prediction). Ration cards are printed and issued.
  • Quarantine and exclusion zones are established around all heavily irradiated areas. Anyone still living in, or within two miles of an exclusion zone is evacuated to a less irradiated location. Of particular note is the evacuation of Blackburn and Preston, the former of which was in the unfortunate position of being between two bomb sites, namely Samlesbury Aerodrome and ROF Blackburn, while the latter was virtually surrounded by heavy fallout. By mid-1984 over half of Blackburn had been evacuated, the remaining population being in the north-east of the city while Preston was almost abandoned altogether, the only people still living there being a few stubborn hold-outs in the Fulwood area. Another major evacuation was from the northern-most parts of Chorley. Due to the number of people who had to be moved and the distances involved it was later estimated that the evacuation effort was responsible for using up thirty to forty-five percent of the stores of petrol and diesel. Those evacuated are housed in temporary refugee camps and shelters set up in church halls, schools, sports halls and any other suitable building. However, the evacuations also turned out to provide a ray of light in the post-Doomsday darkness due to the Dunkirk spirit making a welcome appearance. In addition to government and military vehicles, countless privately owned vehicles, everything from lorries and buses to vans and cars, took part in the evacuation effort, often driven by their owners or those employed to drive them pre-Doomsday, with one van driver making a total of seventeen round trips before the petrol ran out.

1984

An emergency government based in Lancaster is formed in March, one of its first actions is to issue an order that all open spaces and gardens in towns and cities are to be used for food production. Additionally members of the population who are not employed in an ‘essential occupation’ (i.e. health-care, emergency services or maintaining the remaining infrastructure) are urged to volunteer for farm work, as the lack of fuel has rendered a lot of agricultural machinery useless, thereby creating a greatly increased need for manpower. Making it mandatory is discussed but proves to be unnecessary due to an unexpectedly large number of volunteers, over a third of which are students from the area’s universities and polytechnics.

In early June, there is another influx of refugees from outlying towns and villages. While some are simply in search of food due to their stores running out before their crops are ready, or seeking medical treatment, others come with alarming reports of their homes being attacked by armed raiders. On July 2nd, the village of Whittington is attacked by an unidentified group of armed men. Another attack, this time on the village of Burton-in-Kendal, follows just over a week later. In both cases the attackers stole food and other supplies at gun point. Although a number of people were wounded, seven at Whittington and three at Burton-in-Kendal, there were no fatalities.

In late August an outbreak of typhoid occurs in Lancaster and the surrounding towns, killing a total of a hundred and twenty-eight people. The source of the outbreak is found to be a contaminated water supply. Lacking the resources to resume large scale water treatment, the government tries to prevent a second outbreak by issuing posters and leaflets instructing the population to boil or otherwise sterilized all water before use, be it for drinking, cooking, bathing or cleaning. Despite this typhoid and other waterborne diseases would prove to be an ongoing problem for a number of years.

The first year’s harvest is considered to have been successful, albeit poor, the yield having been reduced by the changes in the climate and the lack of mechanized farming equipment and fertilizers. Rationing continues, although like in the Second World War, the produce of urban allotments and private gardens is ‘off-ration’, mainly as a way to encourage people to put more effort into them. It is judged that between the harvest and the home-grown produce there should be just enough food to last until the next harvest.

Over the winter there are several more attacks on towns and villages to the far north of the county. This time there are several fatalities, along with over two dozen wounded. In response troops (former TA and regular army personnel, plus new recruits) are sent to those towns deemed most at risk to defend them, with all towns and villages on the edges of the area under Lancashire's authority being fortified.

1985

The year gets off to a bad start with further attacks on towns on the edge of the county. This time towns to the west were targeted, in addition to the ones to the north, with a total of six people being killed. However this time it wasn’t all one sided, with two raiders being killed in separate attacks, one by a former TA soldier, the other by a farmer who’d decided to put his shotgun to good use. Attempts to apprehend the rest of the raiders prove futile, with fuel supplies running critically low, the mobility of the Lancashire troops is severely impaired and the supply of ammunition is also running low. Over the following months more refugees from small towns and villages outside of Lancashire continue to arrive in search of food, safety and medical treatment.

In order to provided a steady supply of troops to deal with the ongoing threat of the raiders, it is announced in April that every able bodied person between the ages of seventeen and thirty who isn’t currently employed in food production or other essential occupations has to serve a minimum of one year in the military. Other exempted groups include women with children, all single parents be they male or female, and careers. Conscientious objectors are allowed to serve in the emergency services or in food production instead. Additionally there is a recruiting drive for longer term volunteers. It is later noted that among the voluntary recruits, over half are refugees from raided towns. As one such recruit put it, “we’ve got a score to settle with those b****ds.”

Due to the situation in the refugee camps and shelters having become unbearable due to over crowding, poor sanitation, lack of privacy etc, steps are finally taken to find a more long term solution. Surveys are done of every city, town, and village with the aim of putting together a list of any houses or flats standing empty, along with hotels, caravan parks and anyone willing to take in non-paying lodgers. The refugees are then rehoused as best as possible. Although an effort was made to house family members together, it wasn't always possible and there were cases of relatives ending up at opposite ends of the county.

Expansion and Consolidation

Initially the area under the authority of the emergency government was for the most part comprised of only the western and middle portions of the county of Lancashire, the area south of Chorley (and, indeed the area north of it) was initially avoided due to slightly misplaced fears of radiation, while the north-eastern part of the county was dominated by the relatively unpopulated Forest of Bowland, with the majority of towns in that area being small and somewhat scattered. This, combined with the limited resources immediately after Doomsday, led to it being decided that the most effective course of action would be to focus on the areas with the highest population. However, from 1987 onwards, contact was gradually re-established with the rest of the county. This was slowed down by the still very limited resources and further hampered by frequent raids and skirmishes between Lancashire troops and the raiders, now known as reavers in reference to the infamous Border Reavers of centuries past. Additionally a large number of the towns and villages were found to have been abandoned for one reason or another. Never the less, by 1996 most of the county had been regained. Additionally contact was made with a number of towns to the south of Lancashire’s borders in 1991, most significantly the town of Southport. These towns had been much harder hit by radiation and food shortages and although they were getting by, it was by the narrowest of margins and without any real organized leadership. Consequently the authority and stability, not to mention the increased food supply, that was offered by Lancashire was welcomed with open arms.

However, in 1996, things had ground to a halt. The further out they went, the more frequent the raids became and the thinner their resources were spread. Additionally, the Forest of Bowland proved to be an ongoing problem area, with an unknown number of reavers hiding out there and attacking the surrounding settlements. Although the military in Lancashire had a decent number of troops, they lacked equipment. Guns and ammunition had been scarce since the beginning and with the ROF sites blown to atoms the area lacked the ability to make more (worryingly, when they searched the underground storage facility at Heapey, it was found that someone had got there before them and made off with every bit of small arms ammunition). Alternatives had had to be found and they had looked to the past to do so. Lancashire had had a number of archery clubs prior to Doomsday and following their conscription into the military many of the members put their skills to good use. Given the ‘hit and run’ tactics of the raiders, projectile weaponry were more use then the melee variety and bows and crossbows quickly became the weapons of choice, although demand for the latter outstripped supply and the troops level of skill with either was highly variable. Working motor vehicles were almost non-existent, apart from the slow starting wood-gas variety which were of limited use to the military. Consequently it was decided that rather then stretch themselves even further, a policy of secure and protect was adopted. Settlements at the edges of the county and in and around the Forest of Bowland were fortified and troops stationed in them. Improvised blockhouses were constructed where there was a particularly large gap between settlements. The towns and blockhouses were then used as bases for patrols of the surrounding area. All expansion ceased and all resources were devoted to securing the territory already gained, which at this point stretched from Burton-in Kendal in the north to Southport in the south and as far east as Burnley in the south and High Bentham in the north. Expansion and long range explorations would not be resumed until 1999 when contact was made with a number independent townships in Cumbria, some of which later became part of the Rheged Co-operative while others opted to join the Duchy, expanding the northern border to a few miles north of Milnthorpe, with the old A590 road acting as the border between Lancaster's territory and Rheged.

In 2004, following contact with the Kingdom of Cleveland, the decision was made to explore the land to the east of the Duchy. By this time the Forest of Bowland problem had largely been dealt with, the majority reavers who'd been based there having been hunted down, killed or captured during raids and/or starved out with help from a couple of particularly hard winters, with most of the raids in that area coming from the section of the moorland outside Lancaster's control. Therefore, it was decided that the best course of action would be to take over the area in question in order to more effectively deal with the remaining raiders, and at the same time explore the rest of the area beyond the eastern border to look for usable resources and any survivours. The search teams found a large number of abandoned villages and a few independent fortified towns, most notably Settle, Skipton, and Keighley in the former counties of North and West Yorkshire. While the former two were primarily agrarian communities in much the same mold as the Rheged towns, Keighley had spent most of the years following Doomsday under the control of a petty dictator who'd died the previous year without leaving a clear successor, throwing the town into chaos as different groups vied for control, a situation which continued until the arrival of the Lancastrian reconnaissance team. Although initially reluctant to get involved, the suffering of the town's general population forced their hand and troops were sent to take control of the situation. The relatively poorly armed and disorganised factions were dealt with fairly quickly but their fighting had interfered with the town's food production, resulting in a poor harvest. Lancastrian aid prevented a famine and cemented the nation's good standing in the eyes of the town's long suffering and weary population. It was no surprise to anyone when they requested to officially become part of the Duchy a few months later. The town's of Settle and Skipton remained on the fence for much longer, trading heavily with Lancaster and periodically requesting military assistance but officially remaining independent until 2008 when the matter was put to the vote, with voters in both towns opting to become part of Lancaster.

Following negotiations with the Kingdom of Cleveland, it was announced in May 2010 that Lancaster's western borders would be extended to encompass the largely de-populated western portions of North and West Yorkshire, placing the Lancaster-Cleveland border at the high ground of the Yorkshire Dales, over the summits of Dodd Fell Hill and Great Knoutberry Hill, and then following southwards first the River Wharfe and then the A65 to the outskirts of the irradiated area around Bradford.

A New Identity

By the early nineties, it had long since sunk into the national psyche that England most likely no longer existed as a nation, with many people believing that Lancashire could well be the only 'civilised' place left. Although this was regarded as somewhat pessimistic by many others, such a belief was understandable as, apart from a couple of unidentified aircraft spotted near Preston a couple of years after Doomsday (said aircraft are now known to be aerial reconnaissance from the Celtic Alliance), the only contact with the outside world that they'd had since Doomsday had been with scattered settlements, refugees, and the occasional group of nomads, not to mention that it was common knowledge that the countryside was crawling with raiders and bandits. Either way, the name 'Lancashire' had started to seem inappropriate as a shire is part of a larger country and they had effectively been a nation in their own right for just under a decade. The issue was bounced back and forth without anything being decided for a number of years until a half-joking (and somewhat tasteless) comment to the Lord Lieutenant, Simon Towneley (who had been working with the emergency government since the beginning), that the title of Duke of Lancaster was probably up for grabs led to him claiming the title in question after discussing it with the government. Since Lancashire had been the County Palatine of the Duchy of Lancaster before Doomsday, what to call the new nation was now glaringly obvious. On the 12th May 1992, it was announced that the former county of Lancashire was now the Duchy of Lancaster, a sovereign nation. Although it was suggested that Towneley go the whole way and become king, he declined on the grounds that it "didn't seem appropriate."

Contact

In January 1996, a shortwave radio signal from outside the Duchy was picked up by an operator in Fleetwood. Excited and curious, the operator responded. A few minutes later the other end had identified themselves as a Celtic Alliance cargo ship that was en route to Liverpool. Both the Fleetwood operator and the ship's crew reported the incident to their respective authorities. Three months later contact between Lancaster and the Celtic Alliance was officially established when a ship with Alliance diplomats aboard arrived in the port of Heysham to an enthusiastic welcome. It transpired that the Alliance had known of survivours in the former county of Lancashire for some time but with their own resources stretched to breaking point the decision had been made to leave them to their own devices. They had however underestimated both the number of survivours and the degree of organization present in the area. Likewise the fact that it now identified itself as a sovereign nation and a Duchy at that came as a surprise. The possibility of Lancaster joining the Alliance was raised early on but was respectfully declined for the time being. Having got used to their independence, the Lancastrian government was understandably reluctant to give it up. It seems that the general population shared their opinion, as when a referendum on whether or not to join the Alliance was held in 2002 74% of the voters voted against doing so. Although opting to remain independent, trade routes between the two nations were established soon after contact was made.

In 1999, a long range patrol of the area beyond the Duchy's northern border by soldiers from the Duke's Own Regiment found a large number of abandoned villages and several fortified towns. While some were already known to the authorities in Lancaster, others were new discoveries, the largest and most northerly of which was the town of Kendal. Upon approaching Kendal, a number of people were seen working in the fields outside the town but fled when they saw the soldiers. Realising that they had probably been mistaken for raiders, the Lancastrian troops followed standard protocol for such situations, improvising a white flag before approaching the town gates, however it still took almost an hour for them to convince those manning the wall and gates that their intentions were non-hostile and be allowed to enter. Although the town itself was unremarkable, a largely self-contained settlement relying on agriculture, they heard about a collection of similar towns to the west which were calling themselves the Cumbria Co-operative. Upon returning to their base in Carnforth the soldiers reported what they'd found out but due to limited resources it wasn't followed up until the following year, by which time Kendal had joined the Co-operative. In May 2000 a second expedition managed to make contact with the towns of Keswick, Cockermouth, Workington and Whitehaven before having to return to Lancaster. Although the possibility of the Co-operative becoming part of Lancaster was raised, the distances involved made it less then feasible to begin with and when it was rejected outright no more was said on the matter. Trade routes between Lancaster and the Co-operative, now known as Rheged, were established by 2001. In 2003, a reduction in the frequency of the raids and an improvement in Lancaster's military equipment thanks to imports from the Celtic Alliance made it possible for the Duchy to expand it's borders, with a number of towns between Kendal and Carnforth, namely Silverdale, Arnside, Storth and Milnthorpe opting to become part of Lancaster. The acquisition of Milnthope, which was now the most northerly town under Lancaster's control, meant that the distance between the Duchy's territory and Rheged's was now less then seven miles, with the old A590 road quickly becoming the de facto border.

Although second hand reports of a nation in the north-east of England had been received via the Celtic Alliance since 1997, due to the continuing problems in the borderlands and lack of fuel Lancaster did not establish contact with them until 2003, when farm workers near Milnthorpe spotted a group of soldiers in unfamiliar uniforms crossing the Lancaster-Rheged border. Although the soldiers were not behaving like reavers and were in fact carrying a white flag, the workers erred on the side of caution and beat a hasty retreat and informed the nearest group of Lancastrian soldiers of what they'd seen. The soldiers went to investigate and soon met up with the unidentified group who'd taken care to appear as non-hostile as possible. After a few initial tense moments the unknown soldiers identified themselves as a reconnaissance team from the Kingdom of Cleveland and accompanied the Lancastrian troops back to Milnthorpe. After a brief round of questioning the Lancastrians were finally convinced that they were who they said they were. After spending the night in Milnthorpe the Cleveish team were allowed to continue on to the capital. Upon arriving in Lancaster, they found that word had travelled much faster then they had and found themselves on the receiving end of a hero's welcome, the confirmation that at least some of their old rivals had made it through okay being the best news that the Lancastrians had had in in while, particularly for those who had family members in Cleveish territory.

Unbeknown to most of the general population however, contact with Cleveland raised some cause for concern in some circles. The title of Duke of Lancaster had before Doomsday been held by Queen Elizabeth II and as Queen Anne of Cleveland was her daughter there was some debate as to whether or not she would have a more legitimate claim to the title then Towneley. Fortunately the matter was soon laid to rest, as when asked Queen Anne replied that the title had been the property of the British monarch, not the Cleveish one.

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