When Wolds’ beds ‘shook with a passion’ one night in 2008

The chicken field at Usselby above the earthquake epicentre. EMN-170224-110906001
The chicken field at Usselby above the earthquake epicentre. EMN-170224-110906001

In the second of his monthly diaries, Wolds writer Peter Thompson recalls a memorable night this week in 2008....

It was a once in a lifetime experience, and thankfully no-one was injured or killed.

It was shortly before 1am on Wednesday February 27 when beds in the Wolds ‘shook with a passion’ registered at 5.2 on the Richter scale.

This was a small earthquake by global standards, but by UK standards quite a wobble.

I was awoken by distinct shuddering and thought my wife had left the washing machine on. The vibration was enough to make our cat Joe jump off the bed; he normally took some manual shifting. The washing machine though was at peace with itself!

Half an hour later, I was again awoken by a telephone call and told there had been an earthquake, some 15 miles north east of Lincoln.

Was I still dreaming? No this was for real!

This was a reporter’s best nightmare, and I was soon out and about!

Mick the Milk delivered the first news, but he ‘bottled’ the chance to tell his story and headed for Nettleton with his deliveries.

I went down a deserted A46 towards Market Rasen with Radio Lincolnshire on the car radio doing their best to calm nerves and allay fears of a nuclear attack on Claxby. Perhaps when they reportedly built bunkers there in the cold war they knew something we didn’t.

Residents in Rasen’s Anglian Way feared there had been a train derailment.

One town resident, whose ornaments had been thrown from her dresser, described ringing her sister in San Francisco, where earthquakes have struck with fatal consequences-her sibling’s advice was to go outside where it would be safer if there were aftershocks. There were but nobody noticed them.

Stone damage soon became obvious, most noticeably at St Thomas’ Church, where blocks of debris lay on the ground, causing £10,000 in damage.

There were reports coming in through the night of pictures falling from walls, children screaming and, even worse, sheep on Nettleton Hill going into labour!

The only previous noticeable earthquake in our county was one that struck Lincoln while the Cathedral was being built 800 years ago - thought, though never confirmed from on high, to have been an Act of God.

By the time dawn was breaking over the Wolds, I was arriving at a farm between Middle and Market Rasen, where the epicentre was believed to be, though contrary to the expectations of some, there was no crater in the ground.

I took what was to be a front page picture of the spot where a farmer stood with his thumbs up-the only time I had scooped the nation’s daily papers.

However, just 24 hours later my pride was in tatters; the epicentre was believed by scientific experts to be elsewhere!

The World’s press came to the town that day, with a makeshift media centre in the Market Place and the Salvation Army, as they are known to do, admirably providing cups of tea.

But that is not the end of the story, a month later Owersby farmer Peter Sergent rang me to say 30 hens in his shed had been found dead on the night in question.

It seems the hens knew best and my picture scoop had been in the wrong field.

A point 2.5 miles north of Rasen was proved to be the epicentre of the 2008 Market Rasen earthquake, which lasted just 10 seconds.