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Struck by Lightning

Barwicker No 18
June 1990

Thunder and lightning have on numerous occasions shattered the rural peace of Barwick, sometimes with serious and occasionally fatal effects. 'Mayhall's Annals of Yorkshire' for 27 July, 1809, records the effect of such a storm at the MiII House, now Carrfield House, the home of a prominent Barwick Methodist.

'A dreadful thunderstorm was partially felt at Leeds, and was most tremendous about seven miles to the south-east. At Barwick- in-Elmet, the house of Mr Thomas Stoner was greatly shattered and a collier standing in his house had his shoe-string burnt by the electric spark. Mrs Stoner had engaged a party to tea the same afternoon, but had reversed her invitation at the entreaty of one of her friends, and had gone to visit a neighbour when the room was shattered with lightning. A tree under which a number of haymakers had imprudently sheltered themselves was shivered a few moments after they had quitted it for shelter.'

The thunderstorm of 5 July 1852 and the damage it caused in Barwick (when 'the wind-mill sails came rattling down') have been recorded in a poem by Wllliam Burnett (see 'The Barwicker' No.1.) Joseph, son of Thomas Warrington, the Barwick miller, was killed in the storm. His gravestone in the new burial ground (now named "The Jubilee Garden") reads:

'Cut down and withered in his prime
By lightning struck he fell.
10 warning given, he had not time
To bid his friends farewell.

Another potentially serious 'bolt from the blue' is recalled in an extract from the Rectors' Log written by the Rev H Lovell Clark in 1934.

'On Tuesday, July 31st. the kitchen wing of the Rectory was struck by lightning at 2.45 a.m. The lightning travelled along the electric wire and started a fire in the corner of the kitchen near the ceiling. This smouldered at first. Mr Wailes, our indoor man, noticed the smoke at 5.25 and aroused the household. For about a quarter of an hour we fought the fire with the garden hose and with buckets. Then the Barwick Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived with extinguishers. In ten minutes after their arrival, the fire was dealt with. The damage is estimated at about £12 or £13. This does not include the probable honorarium to the Fire Brigade.'

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