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This Britain

Treasure hunters dig for rare early tank

Like most unwanted gifts, it was bestowed with good intentions and proved hard to get rid of.

The Mark One tank was given to the Lancashire town of Haslingden in 1919 in recognition of the locals' war efforts. But councillors found themselves paying rather too much on its upkeep and are believed to have buried it 16ft beneath a park in 1927. Local records shed no light on its disappearance. But a search is under way for what is now a rare military specimen. The Mark One was a key weapon in several First World War battles.

On Wednesday a team of local treasure hunters was given permission by Rossendale council to dig upVictoria Park, under which they believe the tank rests. Initial excavations have found the railings and stone plinth on which it was mounted.

Tank enthusiast Brian Boyssaid: "Rumours of its existence have been circulating for years, so I got my metal detector and started looking... There is a depression in the ground about 27ft long - the size of a tank - and I picked up a signal all over it.

"When we find the tank we'll dig a few feet around it and use chains and a crane to pull it out," said Mr Boys.