February 2008 - the day the earth moved as quake struck

Let's get ready to rumble – and that's just what happened on February 27, 2008, when Britain was hit by its biggest earth tremor in 24 years, causing widespread alarm and damage.

Cracking up... damage to Jeffro's Bar in High Street, Market Drayton.
Cracking up... damage to Jeffro's Bar in High Street, Market Drayton.

The tremor, which happened just before 1am, was felt from Yorkshire to the south coast and from London to South Wales, rocking buildings and waking thousands of people.

Its epicentre was near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, but many Shropshire residents, particularly in Telford and the north of the county, felt the shudder.

And a chimney in danger of collapse in Market Drayton resulted in the closure of the town’s High Street.

Emergency services across England said they had been inundated with calls – many from elderly people suffering panic attacks.

Dozens of people, mostly from Telford, contacted the Shropshire Star at the time with their own quake experiences.

John Jones, of The Rock, Ketley, told us: “I woke suddenly at about 1am because my bed was rocking violently. I had not come to my senses and was staring at a picture shaking about on the wall – I thought it was a poltergeist – and then the caravan alarm went off.

“It must have lasted more than two minutes.”

Ildi Berry, from Randlay, Telford, said: “It was really scary. My wardrobe doors are very loose and they were rattling so much I thought it was a poltergeist.

“Then an aircraft flew very low over the house and I thought it might be that exploding. It was something I have never experienced before.”

The earthquake was felt strongly around Market Drayton.

North Shropshire District Council spokesman Ben Proctor said a chimney in Jeffro’s Bar, High Street, had partially collapsed, leaving rubble on the road and causing a potential threat to public safety.

The road was closed as work was done to make the building safe.

The road by Jeffro's Bar was closed

Angela Proudlock, from Malinslee, Telford, said: “My little dog was scared. I looked over at him in his bed and his head was shaking like one of those little nodding dogs.”

Rob Clemson, from The Rock, said he was lying on the sofa just before 1am when he started to feel the vibrations.

“I thought it was something wrong with my legs because they were twitching due to the sofa vibrating,” he said.

Julie Hunt, from Admaston: “It must have lasted about eight seconds and it was an exhilarating feeling. I wasn’t scared. It was more exciting, really.”

Andy Thelwell, from Whitchurch added: “The earthquake was felt in Whitchurch for 15 seconds or more at 12.58am. It was quite aggressive.”

Many readers also contacted the Shropshire Star’s website, including Katie Hill, of Shifnal. She said: “The bookcases started shaking and you could feel it under your feet. It only lasted for five seconds though.

“I called a friend and he also felt it, so it wasn’t our house falling down!”

But while those in north and central Shropshire got all shook up, most folk in south Shropshire were blissfully unaware anything untoward had happened.

Police in the south of the county and South Shropshire District Council reported receiving no calls from the public.

Keeper of Dudley Castle Adrian Durkin examines a brick which was shaken free

Geologist Dr Clive Roberts, an expert in earthquakes working at Wolverhampton University, said at the time that the earthquake was of a magnitude of 5.2, which was big for Britain.

“A deep fault in the Lincolnshire area will have moved, causing the quake,” he said.

It was the largest tremor since 1984 when an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 shook the Lleyn Peninsula of north Wales and was widely felt across England and Wales.

Across the country chimneys fell down, roof tiles were dislodged, and parts of garden walls collapsed, but there was only one reported injury, to a 19-year-old student in South Yorkshire who was hit by falling masonry from a chimney stack.

A British Geological Survey seismogram showing the 2008 earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale.

While the epicentre of the 2008 tremor was some distance away from Shropshire, there had been a seismic direct hit on the county back in 1990.

On Monday April 2 that year an earthquake with its epicentre near Clun reached 5.2 on the Richter scale. It was the worst quake in Shropshire for a century and was widely felt, although damage was relatively minor.

Nevertheless the ruins of Clun Castle were seen to shake and stones fall off, and Shrewsbury town centre was sealed off as the safety of various buildings was assessed.

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