SOME of the biggest loads ever to travel on Hampshire roads have successfully completed the final leg of their journey to a £70 million modernisation project at Fawley Refinery

Five massive transporters - three on Saturday and two yesterday - took the components of a new catalytic cracker from Marchwood Military Port to the Refinery.

There was just one hitch on Saturday morning when one of the highest loads fouled an overhead telephone cable at Main Road, Dibden.

Saturday's loads included one 165-ton tower which was about 150ft long, a 95-ton tower more than 120ft in length - both on huge multi-wheeled transporters - and a smaller component.

There was an even bigger tower on the road yesterday. About 160ft long and fractionally short of 200 tons, it was taken on a 48-wheeled wagon.

A huge crane to be used for lifting the components in position was also in the snail's pace convoy.

The main reactor for the "cracker" is likely to arrive in February. Its base has already been built at the refinery.

It will be shipped to the Fawley Power Station jetty at Calshot before being taken by road on the final mile-and-a-half of its journey.

The catalytic cracker is the most vital unit in the refining part of Fawley's operation and holds the key for converting crude oil into high-octane petrol.

An Esso spokesperson pointed out that, as well as reducing emissions to the atmosphere even further, the new plant will help secure the future of the refinery.

Esso said in a statement: "It will increase profitability and provide extra feedstock for the petrochemicals that are made by sister company ExxonMobil Chemical.''

The original "Cat" plant was built 50 years ago and its process involves temperatures of more than 700 degrees celsius.