Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

All the information about the zeppelin attack on this page comes from 'Zeppelins over Lancashire - The Story of the air raids on the county of Lancashire in 1916 and 1918' by Peter J. C. Smith. It is available to buy at several local libraries.

 

There is also an excellent new book that has just been released by Scott Carter-Clavell called 'The First Air Raid On Lancashire- The Zeppelin Menace'

A 100 year old crater from a Zeppelin attack over Lancashire

The hundred year anniversary of a zeppelin attack over Lancashire during the First World War seemed a good time to eradicate some myths and mistruths spread elsewhere on the internet.

If you search for information about a crater in Holcombe, for instance, you will see several on-line newspaper reports of a crater said to be from WW1 next to Peel Tower on the hill known locally as "Holcombe Hill".

This is a recent myth.

However, we have now been told of a real existing crater from the attack and have the proof and research necessary to say that it is very likely to be genuine.

First of all, let us deal with the crater that isn't.

During promotion for a recent concert, a local band put out a story in several local newspapers that they were playing in a crater from WW1. This crater, they claimed, was made by a bomb from a German zeppelin that flew over the region during September 1916 - you can still read these articles on-line.

 

We contacted the band to inform them that the "crater" was in fact a quarry and was most probably one of the quarries used to produce the stone for Peel Tower itself.

Their reply was that they knew it was a myth and would inform people at the concert of the truth.

 

The problem is that today several on line-newspapers still carry this "myth" and none have the subsequent report of it really being a quarry. Also, no local historian or local historic society that we have spoken to had EVER heard of this "myth" before the newspaper story. So it seems a recent and little known myth - if it ever was one.

 

However, a local man, Dr Alan Heyworth contacted us to say that he thought he had discovered a genuine crater from the zeppelin attack on a small terrace on a very steep hillside, in Lumb near Irwell Vale.

 

This is what Alan told us:

"I first noticed the strange hole when I was investigating some glacial deposits, and originally thought it must be a very unusual feature formed by melting ice.  A Zeppelin crater was not on the list.  I finally realised it could not be 10,000 years old, and could only have been formed by a bomb (although a very small one).

 

By coincidence I came across the map showing the course of the 1916 Zeppelin (from "Zeppelins over Lancashire") and saw that it showed a crater on that exact spot.

 

There is only a very thin soil, so the bomb went into a hard shale, and the crater has stayed the same shape for 100 years.  Very few people go near the site, and it seems to have been forgotten

 

The crater usually has water in it, and dead leaves and other organic detritus have accumulated.  I have taken auger samples and looked at the pollen in the mud, and this also suggests about 100 years of deposition."

 

Dr Alan Heyworth is an expert in pollen and has spent decades studying pollen in sediments similar to those in the crater. What better person could we have wished for to discover and investigate this "hole"?

 

The evidence points towards a genuine crater leftover from the 1916 zeppelin raid.

 

The 100 year anniversary of the raid is on the night of September 25th into the morning of September 26th 2016. This is our attempt to record genuine research and disregard the new "myth". Let's just hope people don't always believe what they read in the press.

11895949_10206586801604179_2116188987599774155_n Lumb crater

NEW MYTH!

ABOVE: Peel Tower overlooking Bury and Ramsbottom.

The nearby "crater" in the foreground is in fact a quarry. Probably used to extract stone to build the tower itself.

It was not formed during a zeppelin attack in World War One.

 

BELOW: Probably a genuine crater from the WW1 attack in Lumb (Edenfield) near Irwell Vale.

(Photo courtesy of Dr Alan Heyworth)

11951300_489507134560239_9164188402545354743_n WP_20160814_14_32_51_Pro (800x450) WP_20160814_14_33_17_Pro (640x360)

ABOVE and BELOW: On our visit the summer growth obscured the size and shape of the crater.

BELOW: Another image of Peel Tower and the quarry beside it.

No one died in the early part of the attack on the Rossendale Valley and outskirts of Bury. But the zeppelin then went on to attack Bolton where far greater damage was inflicted and thirteen lives were lost.

 

That central area of Bolton has been extensively redeveloped since and none of the houses affected by the attack remain. However, there are still visible traces of the attack in the village of Holcombe - SEE OUR PAGE HERE

We told BBC Radio Lancashire about Alan's discovery and they came to the site to interview us both.

 

You can hear the interview on the Soundcloud clip

BELOW RIGHT: