Shropshire Star

Looking back on quakes that have shaken the region after latest tremors

It was 7.56 on a bright summer's morning, and heading towards the 8am news, Terry Wogan played Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. Seconds into the track, the West Midlands was rocking to vibrations of a very different type.

A worried crowd gather at Shrewsbury railway station after the 1990 quake

People were thrown from their feet, the chandeliers swung from the ceiling. July 19, 1984 saw the region shaken by the biggest earthquake to hit the UK since records began.

"The power of radio," quipped the affable and unflappable Irishman afterwards.

Wednesday's tremor in Staffordshire was the largest of 21 quakes to strike the UK in the past two months. But if the earth didn't move for you, don't worry. At 3.3 on the Richter scale, it pales into insignificance compared to that of 29 years ago, which measured 5.4 – which, due to the logarithmic nature of the Richter scale, means that the 1984 quake was actually 126 times larger than Wednesday's.

While the UK has never seen a truly momentous earthquake, of the kind which people in other parts of the world take for granted, the 1984 one ruffled more than a few feathers.

Billy Wilson, of Tettenhall Horse Sanctuary, near Wolverhampton, told how more than 100 horses stampeded as they took fright. A dozen sheep and three goats joined the herd as the terrified animals acted instinctively and tried to escape.

They leapt hedges and fences, gathered in a field, before stampeding past Mr Wilson's house. Staff at Wolverhampton Council's Culwell Street depot fled from their offices in terror as the building shook violently. In north Shropshire, a resident of Dudleston Heath watched a mirror crash to the floor.

While the region certainly felt the quake of 1984, its epicentre was actually the Llyn Peninsular in North Wales.

But the region has played a notable role in Britain's seismic history. There will be few who truly remember the Ludlow earthquake of 1926, which measured 4.8 on the Richter scale, and probably no-one who can recall the Stafford earthquake of 1916. But the 1990 tremor in Bishop's Castle, and the 2002 quake in Dudley, are still quite fresh in the mind.

Damage to a car in April 1990 in Shrewsbury

The Bishop's Castle quake measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, causing extensive damage, with Shrewsbury one of the worst-affected areas.

Firefighters making safe a damaged chimney in Shrewsbury in 1990