World's largest pre-nuclear explosion remembered

Dove Valley
Dove Valley Photo: Valerie Hardy

A book is being launched this week which brings together eye-witness accounts of the world's largest man-made pre-nuclear explosion, nearly seventy years ago in Staffordshire.

The Hanbury Crater
The Hanbury Crater Credit: Valerie Hardy

The Fauld Explosion happened on 27th November 1944 when nearly 4,000 tons of bombs tore apart the landscape near to the childhood home, Fauld House Farm, of the author, Valerie Hardy.

Valerie Hardy (left) two years before the explosion
Valerie Hardy (left) two years before the explosion Credit: Valerie Hardy

She was a schoolgirl when the bombs exploded. They had been stored in an underground ammunition depot and killed seventy people, as well as creating an enormous crater in the landscape, still visible today.

A memorial at the site of the crater
A memorial at the site of the crater Credit: Valerie Hardy

On the 27th of this month, it will be 68 years since the disaster, an anniversary documented in Hardy's book "Voices from the Explosion."

Dedication of a window at the local church to explosion victims
Dedication of a window at the local church to explosion victims Credit: Valerie Hardy

The launch of the book will take place at The Cock Inn, in Hanbury, which is just next to the Hanbury Crater. The building itself was so badly damaged in the explosion it had to be demolished and rebuilt.

Memorial at the crater
Memorial at the crater Credit: Valerie Hardy

The book is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the catastrophe, and tells the story through a series of first hand accounts - how the Second World War suddenly came to the sleepy Staffordshire countryside. Surrounding farms were destroyed and a local plaster works was engulfed by mud from a burst reservoir.

The Hanbury Crater is the largest bomb crater in Europe, but largely unknown outside a small area of the Midlands.