Following the entry of the United States into the war in 1917 and the hope of eventual victory, the British Government thought up a novel scheme to spearhead its newly-created War Savings Certificates drive. In Rochdale, the effect was terrific when the tank, DRAKE 127, was driven under its own power on to the Town Hall Square from Rochdale Station and parked outside the Central Hotel for a week from 8th to 13th April 1918.
Here, it was used as a focal point and sales office for saving certificates, and such was the response from the thousands who came to stare at the grey-green monster, that in that week investments totalled £1 ¾M, [to put that into perspective the cost of Mark IV was between £4,500 and £5,000, with the tank crew being paid 1s 2 ½d per day, The tank commander was paid seven times as much.] A financial expert tells me this figure today  would represent £14 ¼M.
This amount was bettered by only two other communities in Lancashire: Manchester and Liverpool. As a boy of ten, I was one of the thousands who gazed with awe on the monster and who watched the tremendous business done as the certificates were sold from the tank, which had been withdrawn from service and replaced by later models.
The one visiting Rochdale – a Mark IV Male Armoured Fighting Vehicle – was armed with two six-pounder guns (with 204 rounds of ammunition) and four Lewis guns (with 5,640 rounds of ammunition). Its weight was 28 tons, speed 3.7mph, armour 12, 8 and 6mm thick, length 26ft 5ins, width 13ft 6ins and height 8ft 2ins.
It carried a crew of eight men: commander, driver, two gunners, two machine-gunners, and two gearsmen-loaders. These specifications have been kindly supplied to me by the Officer in Charge, RAC Tank Museum, Bovington Camp, Dorset.
The buildings beyond the tank are the old General Post Office and the Central Hotel, the latter occupying the site where now stands the Trustee Savings Bank.