Tuesday 29 April 2014

Freak weather in Sopwell

We all know about the flooding in Sopwell which happens every few years or so in the Ver Valley, but did you know about lightning strikes and a waterspout?

Not once, but twice, a house in Nuns Lane got hit by a thunderbolt. The first time happened in the early 1950s. I have recorded interviews from two different people who reported that they had seen a red flash across the skies which hit a roof in Nuns Lane and set it alight. The house in question apparently belonged to a Mr and Mrs Tichner who lived at the top of the lane – I think that means the Cottonmill Lane end. Fortunately no-one was hurt. The second thunderbolt struck many years later. Does anyone else remember these thunderbolts? What was the number of the house? Apparently, it was opposite no 22 Nuns Lane. Can anyone confirm this?

I have recently taken out a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive for a month to see if I could find any gems about Sopwell and came across this item from 1859.

The Holy Well todayOn Thursday afternoon week, a most singular phenomenon appeared coming in a southward direction from Park Street towards the town. It consisted apparently of a dense mass of aqueous vapour or air, attended with a most fearful rushing noise, taking a tree up by the roots on Sopwell farm for some distance, whirling the birds in the air along its progress, and doing mischief to some cottages; it passed through the vale across the river Ver at Holywell Hill, where it came into contact with the Willow tree growing over the Holy Well in the meadow; this it broke asunder in its way rolling up the lead, and taking the tiles off the houses, damaging trees, and passing on to Hill Street in a direction towards Redbourn. The alarm amongst the inhabitants was great, and many had great difficulty in maintaining respiration, the current of air was so great. We have not heard of anyone being injured. It was probably what is known as a waterspout on land. 
Herts Guardian, 2nd August 1859

Now that is freaky! I also found it interesting that there was a willow tree growing over the Holy Well and that people knew where it was then.

Sandy Norman

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