1931… English earthquake

Part of my latest story is set in the summer of 1931, and while I was researching it I discovered that in June of that year there had been an earthquake centred on the Dogger Bank forty miles offshore in the North Sea, which was the largest known in the British isles. However it seems that a lesser earthquake in 1884 caused more damage, and over a thousand buildings had to be repaired.

The 1931 earthquake had a magnitude of 6.1M  and people felt it pretty much everywhere in Britain, but also in the east side of Ireland, and other European countries bordering the North Sea, including the Netherlands, Belgium, the north of France, parts of northern Germany, Denmark and southwest Norway. Although there wasn’t as much damage as the 1884 event, there were reports of damage to buildings from more than seventy locations. In Filey the Methodist Church spire was displaced; the church had only reopened eight years previously having been badly damaged in a fire in 1918. Other Yorkshire towns, including  Bridlington, Beverley and Hull were  affected, but over two hundred miles south in Staines, now renamed Staines on Thames in Surrey, a factory roof was reported to have collapsed at Staines. All along the east coast, people felt the shock, especially in Norfolk. Fortunately there was only one casualty, and it was an indirect fatality… a woman died of a heart attack in Hull.

I actually once experienced a mild earthquake in Oldham Lancashire; it was as if the ground had turned to jelly. Britain was lucky in 1931; in the spring of 1931 Nicaragua and Iran both had an appalling loss of life, and in August of that year Xinjiang in China suffered a catastrophic event and over ten thousand people lost their lives.

I’m not sure yet whether the earthquake will feature in my story… it would certainly lend an interesting twist!


  1. Bill Hayes

    That’s interesting. I’ve been in a couple of small earthquakes in Japan. Once I was in an office tower on the 30th floor. The whole building swayed and shook. Books fell off the shelves, coffe spilt out of cups. The problem with being in a small earthquake is that you have no idea if it will stop in a few moments or continue and get worse and become the “big one” The authorites are well prepared as they can be. They send these aerthquake vans round to schools. You climb ino a small kitchen room on the back of the truck. The swaying begins and you have to carry out the 3 or 4 essential tasks like turning off the gas, grabing a cushion / futon and get under a table. It’s quite scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Good heavens, Bill, that sounds really scary! My little Oldham experience was just strange but not frightening because we’re not in an earthquake region… the not knowing of your experience must be really frightening!


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