The Thunderbolt Incident: Comprehensive Timeline of events
The comprehensive timeline of events
12th November 1987.
The time is 130am, the weather according to the Met Office for Nottingham is “No weather”.
The scene is quiet, most people are in their beds fast asleep. Those that are up reportedly are watching television. 3 of the 4 channels have passed close. However, the classic 1969 World War II epic movie Battle of Britain is being broadcast.
Ian Paul Wordsworth “Lived on Welbeck street at the time I remember watching the Battle of Britain on the TV when it hit … talk about added effects ”. As coincidence would have it, the bombing of Britain is taking place!
The silence outside is disturbed by a thunderous explosion heard for miles around that rocks the night! This is the bookmark of what is known as The Thunderbolt Incident.
The explosion was attributed to a number of things. An explosion in the sky, A gas explosion, A lightning bolt, and of course. when there’s no reasonable explanation forthcoming, exotic electromagnetic tesla based weapons and the classic, aliens! To create a narrative of the night in the order that events occurred.
Let’s wind the clock back to moments before. Generously between 125am and 129am.
From the CTS File 31 report: Quoting insurance salesman Mike West “zig-zagged across the sky. I spoke to one old lady who was petrified. She saw it flying straight towards her house. It looped and double-looped and was doing other maneuvers in the sky. Another man saw it from a distance and described the sky as “suddenly becoming bright red.”
CTS File 31 report. Bob, a TV and electronics repairman, with a military background. “Lights started to dim and light bulbs fused and started to pop”. “The front door-bell started to ring all by itself. Immediately following this, he said, six-light bulbs fused simultaneously and the electrical trip-switch blew.”
Seen surging across the sky from Annesley. Carol Harrison on Elm Tree Road reports having seen wide horizon spanning green lighting, forking over the house, towards the town,
Carol Harrison “That was the weirdest lightning I have ever seen! Green lightning”.
01:30am Boom! The Explosion.
From the Ashley Rye report: During the explosion, lights reportedly switched on by themselves. While others that were already on exploded.
CTS File 31 Report: Spectacular fizzing bolts. Lighting bolts hitting windows, going in and out of houses. Houses vibrating. Windows cracked and blown out.
Fire and burns scorched the bushes and rooftops along Abbey Road and the surrounding streets. A galvanized metal children’s slide was melted. A great deal of physical damage occurred.
Carole Travis “I lived on Diamond Avenue at the time and we saw the thunderbolt pass through the bedroom window”
Nicola Pikala “I was 5, I remember that it came rolling past my house. The whole house was shaking!”
Michelle Gent “I remember the event. I live off Kirkby Folly Road and it scared me to death…”
Aerials superheated and split. Burning out Televisions and connected devices.
Billie. S. Reflecting back on her memory, “I myself expected to see something on the scale of the Lockerbie Bombing when I looked out of the window as I thought an airliner had crashed in the street…”
Diane Waterhouse – “I was in bed at the time, it was the noise that woke me. It was a loud thundering noise and the bedroom lit up bright I opened the curtains it came from the direction of Diamond Avenue and went down the street towards Abbey Road. I watch it going down Clumber street it frightened me as I didn’t know then what it was. My mum’s house which is straight across from the flats shook, the force of the bolt throw my mum out of bed, it melted the video player…I can remember my dad wasn’t happy as he was taping something at the time lol, the telephone wires also melted”
Tel Thelma Males “I can remember it happening, it came down clumber street. My next door neighbour was going to bed, as they closed there curtains it whizzed by their house!”
Sue Arrowsmith “I remember it I live in Glenside it broke my windows at the back of the house”
Neil Johnson “Hi all, remember the night well, was watching The Battle of Britain that night, had dark curtains in the living room, then the whole room shook and such a bright light lit up the room.”
Bob “I’ve never heard anything like it. I honestly expected to open my front door and find corpses in the street.”
Local fire crews were activated. The school alarm going off!
The Explosion now confirmed to be Abbey Road. The chimney of a flat, at the near bottom of the road, number 8. Was apparently physically struck, leaving the building in a dangerous condition. The resident was lucky to survive, whether in bed or making tea, the boiler in the living room erupted sending bricks, glass and debris flying.
Reports continued along the road.
Chris Taylor Berry “I saw it coming out of the sky I was at the window watching the rain I thought it was a nuke bright white ball coming down from the heavens then it hit the flats on Coxmoor”
Billie.S. “The Explosion echoed (I say echo but not sure if it was an echo) went on for ages afterwards… it was deafening…”
“I’ve never heard anything like it in my life before …both me & my Dad thought a jumbo had crashed outside & more or less straight afterward we heard an alarm go off at the bungalow across the road & the fire Chief Mr Walton came speeding down his drive & drove off at high speed to the fire station just a bit further along Kirkby Road onto Sutton Road…we knew something bad had happened”
Gail Rigley “The thunderbolt after doing a lot of damage up on the Coxmoor Estate went into (the) earth through our children’s galvanised steel slide on St John’s Avenue.”
“…blowing all phone lines out. Shook the lady next door out of bed she had moved up from Cornwall so thought it was a mine explosion”
Clair E Lewis “The thunderbolt , I lived on Abbey Road at the time , remember it well. Lots of damage done”
Barbara Shiels – “I remember it well I lived at the top of Beacon Drive, it cause(d) a lot of damage to my house and to the properties opposite.”
Helen Potter “Remember that incident well I lived on Clumber St at the time facing up Abbey Road. The house shook, the TV and video blew up and smoking. My son and our dog slept through it all. Hubby and me thought we were gonners”
Maxine Brewster It was in the night, my bed was actually shaking.
Kath Williams – “Husband was on nights and living in Sherwood Street when I was awakened by the loudest bang I had ever heard. The house literally shook and I thought a bomb had landed on the front lawn!”
Chris Ziggy Johnston “I was only 7 or 8 when this happened and still remember it well it actually went through our neighbour’s window and smashed an old man’s flat roof to bits.”
Nicola Barnfather “...my eldest brother was still up watching TV and it blew it. My other brother slept through it..though how I will never understand!.. we rushed out in PJ’s to see what was going on.”
Jonathan Middleton “It came over our house and it was no thunderbolt that’s for sure.”
Paul Hickman “I was on the fire brigade at the time ( Kirkby station ) and attended the flats at bottom of Abbey Road. Sutton fire crews were first requested to attend Coxmoor Primary (school) due to alarms going off then diverted to the flats. Lots of calls came in and automatic fire alarms went off.“
“At the time, it was quite an event, especially in Kirkby. The occupant of the flat, Don ……. can’t recall his surname, was on the front page of the Chad and appeared on TV news.”
Rachel Mason – “My bed was underneath the window. I heard the explosion, I shot bolt up in bed. Turned to look out the window. The whole house was shaking. Can only describe what I saw as a ring of fire.” “An orange ring of flames” “I can only describe it as a ring of fire moving away, it was so fast.” “Came from over the house, went ahead straight then like it banked left and down…” the window has an unrestricted view over the fields. “Can see all the way across. It went over and banked left, towards to what is Thieves wood.” “Lasted just seconds”.
The distance from 8 Abbey Road to over flying Rachel Masons house is 692m. The distance to the next instance is approximately 250m.
The next instance is a second collision that then occurs far beyond the end of the road, the very physical present Thunderbolt clips the wall of the building of a car mechanics home located on the corner of Diamond and Blidworth Rd. Inside the children’s room wall, from a cupboard the paint was burnt and blistered, the home damaged, the doors within were unable to be closed as a portion of the home was leaning. The house also covered in metallic debris.
Paraphrased from witness statement –
He went outside to cover customers cars from what he thought was hail coming down as it was tapping on the patio windows. Went outside, looking across the field. Saw 2 lights face-on in the sky straight coming towards the house. Really low. No sooner had they been seen those lights at distance, they were upon the house. Striking the wall.
“Everywhere we covered in some metallic substance”.
“The Thunderbolt”, continued struggling to stay up airborne, then ploughing down towards Thieves wood. A fire erupting in the wake as it launched itself skywards once more. The object “Bounced” claimed reports. Before coming to a final crash in the Annesley Hollow area known as The Warren minutes later. Ashley Rye Report: “Eyewitnesses describe a number of balls of white light streaking towards it… as it descended, near Annesley Hall.”
There is a military response
Helicopters arriving on the scene within 45minutes, at 2:15 am.
Lynxes and Chinooks reported.
Rachel Mason – “The Chinook (that) landed was there, on that field!”. Pointing to the corner as we drove by. “Saw it there the following morning”. South corner of Blidworth Road and Derby Road.
CTS File 31. At 2:15 a.m shortly after the “explosion,” seven military helicopters came on the scene. A number of eyewitnesses then watched “a troop-carrying helicopter surrounded by Gazelles and Lynxes, flying at low speed and scanning the area with powerful searchlights.” These were spotted flying over Normanton, Sutton-in-Ashfield and Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Soon after this, police cordoned off the first site (where the craft had first impacted and “bounced”) erecting road-blocks which remained in place for a number of days.”
Helen Martin: “My Dad worked as a Security Guard at the Old Kodak Site that same night and witnessed it. He saw a circle of fire in the woods when he went to investigate but quickly got moved on.”
8 Abbey Road
Roy Burchell Ashfield Council repairman: “Richard Thompson and I went to that incident and took the unsafe chimney down.
From the Ashley Rye report: A local Video and TV repairman working late at home that evening reported that the lights suddenly dimmed and light bulbs started to pop in the house; furthermore, the electrical ‘trip switch’ blew and the next day he was inundated with phone calls from individuals whose equipment had been damaged.
Additionally from the Ashley Rye report: Mike West, who dealt with many of the insurance claims, will verify that this was no ordinary meteorological phenomenon. He told local residents, ”This just doesn’t make any sense. Every claim that I’ve dealt with in the last 26 years has been logical and reasonable… but this defies reason. It did not even travel in a straight line as you would expect with a thunderbolt, following the line of least resistance. It zigzagged across the sky, and people even saw it dive down over the hills… It’s as if the whole area was blanketed with electromagnetic radiation.”
Forty insurance claims were made in one street (Abbey Road) for Video and TV equipment damaged by the ‘thunderbolt’.
Paul Hickman of the attending fire service crew at Abbey Road, “It actually went down the chimney stack and blew the back boiler out of the chimney, some of the bricks were embedded in the wall on the opposite side of the room.”
Laurine Stafford – “Paul Hickman that’s right, apparently, the bloke that lived there had only just gone to bed, he said he was sitting on the sofa watching telly, a few moments longer and the boiler would have got him”
Billie.S “Darron Ellis is a local historian…he mentioned the armed road-blocks at Annesley Hall.” “Around Annesley Hall & I’m sure he said they were armed…& the slip road very close there exiting the M1 was closed too…”
“It’s the most interesting thing ever to happen in Kirkby”.
We are just more 30 years on from the events of the night. It’s time to piece what together what happened.” This is the basis of The Thunderbolt Incident.
In the days that followed.
In the days that came after – the car mechanic engineer had a number of visitors. 2 police came visited the next day, 2 further police came the following day, then came 2 military personnel on a separate visit. I am making a speculative leap here to conclude the mechanic is the same person, mentioned in the CTS File 31 report.
As it was explained to me that 2 military types came to his home, in professional clothing not combat attire, but formal. They took samples of the metallic substance covering his property. Which twins with the statement. published by Jon King “two government officials from the DScI (Department of Scientific Intelligence) made themselves known. “The government officials came up from the DScI,”, “and they took samples of this substance and also threatened this gentleman, telling him to keep quiet about what he knew. This chap has since suffered further threats from an unknown source, mainly by telephone.”.
It was explained to me, this individual on the second day after the event. He had marched to the crash site demanding answers. In regards to his damaged property. He reportedly, in an audio-recorded interview was picked up by police taken to a police station, was threatened that if he continued could be picked up for harassment, potentially not be able to see his family. A spade is a spade type man. Gritting his teeth. One last intriguing event solidified his silence.
The following day. Another knock at the door, half expecting to see police or military once again. To his surprise he was greeted by 2 gentlemen, one who introduced himself as a translator, the other was apparently Russian! This was too much, his silence was now completed. He never spoke of it again, only to a close confidant. Who after 30 years entrusted to me her recollection of his events. The house was later demolished.
The Department of Scientific Intelligence officers took something else too, that was mentioned both to myself and in the CTS File 31 Report. Whether by searching the home or voluntarily handed over, a number of colour photographs taken by the individual. It is not confirmed what the photographs contained. The assumption being, he went to the crash site.
It was also elaborated, that the gentleman had kept a log of UAP in the area.
A taxi phone operator from Ravenshead.
“People from Ravenshead, who would regularly shop in Kirkby. (As) There are more shops on the high street and that. We had to take different routes. Going down as far as Hucknall and coming back up again.”
“Military vehicles parked over the M1 bridge going to Selston.”
Alan S. A National Express coach driver relays his experience to me – his first run every day was from Nottingham, taking the A60 route up to Mansfield. He recalls how he had to make an alternate route due to being redirected by military personnel/Army. In the following days, how he was behind an HGV with a trailer with something strapped and secured down under a black tarp escorted by a number of military trucks along the A60. He followed them for a “good ‘bout half hour.“
It was stated that a local newspaper, possibilities of the Ashfield Chad, Hucknall Dispatch, Nottingham Evening Post, Free Press/Recorder ran with a front headline of “Thunderbolt Out of the blue”. As a front-page splash. A number of people claim to remember it.
However, using the British Newspaper Archive, for these newspapers of the time and surrounding weeks, none show this cover.
There are newspaper articles quoted, yet are not sourced. 3 particular statements. One is an Ashfield Counsellor who is stated as having said “Heaven only knows no-one was killed, it was like the Blitz!” No attribution to the councilor either.
“That was some thunderbolt!” said a reporter. Disputing and dismissing the official statement of it being a freak thunderbolt in their article. Also, this statement pertains to an explanation that was issued to the press.
But by whom?
CTS File 31 Report. “Indeed, even the local Fire Chief was bemused by the nature and intensity of the fire; at Thieves wood. He commented that he was “quite surprised to find that the trees facing the fire did not have a mark on them, yet the backs of the trees were smouldering.” This was certainly odd. Especially when added to the further fact that pine cones were found that had seemingly been burnt from the inside out!”
Further to this due to COVID, the microfilms of local and regional newspapers kept on file at the local studies libraries. Which was an early line of inquiry. I was informed by the Hucknall Library Inspire manager they will not be available until after the COVID crisis is over. Disappointingly the verification of these statements is currently unconfirmed and unattributed. Unless an individual has cuttings, clipping of the news story.
Ashley Rye report: “The day after the incident heavy military lorries arrived at the site. Armed guards were posted to prevent access, Government officials and spotter planes were seen. At the first impact site top soil was then found to have been removed down to a level of about 9 inches. This was replaced with clay and covered with new topsoil; new pines and silver birch were planted”
Damage and Lasting damage:
Rachel Mason: Taking me on a tour of Abbey Road, highlighting from her memory, pointing to the former locations of trees and hedges that were burnt and singed. TV Aerials damaged.
The source of the bookmark event explosion that everyone heard, was the back boiler of this property. The present status of Flat 8 Abbey Road, the high chimney with different colour bricks from the rest of the structure due to the repair. Also, the kitchen window was replaced, a portion of bricks from the back wall also replaced.
Rather the Thunderbolt being the explosion, a lightning bolt. It’s much more accurate to the facts the Thunderbolt caused the explosion.
Image Courtesy of Laurine Stafford
The home of the car mechanic engineer. Suffered a clip from the Thunderbolt. The resulting damage from this collision, the structure of the building become unsafe, it was relayed via an interview from the confidant of the former resident. The wall in the children’s bedroom was damaged, from the cupboard along an outside wall. Paint/wallpaper was blistered and burned from heat. The silver metallic substance covered the property, samples were collected by DISi officers. Did it take around a month for the substance to be removed/cleaned?
The house was subsequently demolished. No details of when, on-site now is a private cul de sac of numerous new build properties.
Thieves Wood: 1st crash of the Thunderbolt.
Ashley Rye Report: “Trees at the site are still badly incinerated and many marked for removal. The army remained at the impact site for 3-4 days”.
I’m a C.A.A. authorized UAV operator. Was able to take a 4K camera drone up into the air around the area. Up into the tree for some detailed close up photography. Kristian Lander.
Observed banking left, from the end of Abbey Road.
Rachel Mason describes “It looked like it banked left”. Which makes sense in the timeline of events, as this is where the first Crash is alleged to have occurred. Thieves Wood. Not so much a crash, but cited as a “bounce”, though no citation has been attributed. But the mention of the bounce exists in both the Ashley Rye Report and the CTS File 31 report.
It is more than likely an explanation that this crash site, was not the final crash site. Though Mr Walton, the Fire chief is quoted having attended the Thieves Wood fire then giving a statement to those newspapers mentioned that we cannot attribute to earlier.
It must be noted Mr Walton, the claimed Fire chief, is a figure of controversy. No one knows who it is!
He lived at “Waltonia”, on Kirkby Road. Opposite B.S. Waltonia is the address of 174 Kirkby Road. Whether the chief has been attributed the Walton name, due to the address’ name.
Richard Smiler Thompson and Roy Burchill, cannot remember the name either. Can’t remember that name of Fire Officer, Watson???
William Maltby of the Fire and rescue service is a contender to being a similar-ish name from around the same time. Who left the service in 1986.
Getting started on the ground information gathering process, I reached out to the editors, feature writers and newsdesk of Hucknall Dispatch, Nottingham Evening Post, Mansfield and Ashfield Chad and Recorder August/Sept 2020. For information, they may have on the case, journalists who may still be working who remember the case. The significance of the historic and interesting case, where we may be able to finally solve the mystery. The potential of a story to raise information from the community. To not a single reply or phone call.
I followed this up, with a more structured email, with more details. To once again no replies or phone call.
Final resting place
The final resting place where this physical Thunderbolt is said came to its end. Is alleged to be the Hollow. Yes, have seen this listed as Annesley Hollow at The Warren. The Warren is a considerable-sized land property of the estate of the owners of Annesley Hall. Extending behind Derby Road, where a sign on a house proclaims this spot to be the highest place in the county. Though a number of houses, continue after this address, each a little bit taller than the former.
The grounds extend all the way to the Newstead Abbey grounds and miles south. It’s remote, with high banks and very few houses at the time looking into and across the picturesque Byron landscape.
Of the commentators on social media and locals I have spoken too, none can say they’ve heard of the second crash site. Many agree they heard the explosion, some will say they saw the “Thunderbolt”, in a variety of forms. A few may know of the crash and fire at Thieves wood. Scant few know about the second crash site.
Ivan Barrow “One weird night. I agree, I know people that live near the Warren and they didn’t see or heard from any police or army that night.”
Geoff Lee – “My own recollections… I was at work three miles away and heard a rumble of thunder. “, “I didn’t see evidence of any crash or any increased Police or Army presence at any time, either near the Warren or Annesley Hall.”
That being said!
Opposing this, Carly Bramwell “I’m not sure where Thieves Wood comes from? It wasn’t there, it was the Annesley Hall woods… I remember it happening.”
A gentleman by the name, Gaz Wirely left detailed instructions of where to find the second crash site. He made mentioned he found the area, whilst metal detecting.
“We was metal detecting the area and if you dig down a 10-12inch of sand you hit soil so it looks like it was put there.”
CTS File 31 report: It was reported that the Army remained at the second site (the wreckage site) for three to four days.
Ashley Rye Report: The police subsequently cordoned off the impact site and erected roadblocks that remained for several days.
I reached out to Ashfield District Council and Nottinghamshire County Council in late September 2020 by email. as of the end of November, writing this point, have received no response.
I did a follow-up email to both councils in December.
Following a presentation of The Thunderbolt Incident to the Association of Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, chaired by Robert Moore. It was suggested by the ASSAP chairman CJ Romer to contact The Forestry Commission. As records of the fire and the planting of trees would be a matter of public record. See The post entitled The Thunderbolt Incident Updates.
Email approaches to Ashfield District Council have continued to go unanswered. I like to have a record of communication. A phone call was warmly received in early March 2021, was informed an Ashfield council-linked historian would be given my details and would contact me back. As of 1st April 2021 nothing as yet.
Historic Fire and Rescue services records are part of the public information record online. However, the records for this time are not available or listed. “Would likely have been transferred to the City Archives.” I was told in a phone call to Sutton Fire and rescue services administrator in November 2020.
Nottinghamshire City Archives in a phonecall, said they have no such records in November 2020.
A phone call in March 2021, was much more fruitful to the Sutton Fire and Rescue services, they took my details. Communication via email with the Community officer Carol Mee has been continuing.
“Our records only go back to 1991, there is nothing about it in our museum”. Carol informs me. She has communicated to a retired officers communication group on social media. Has been confirmed since that William Malty retired in 1986, did not attend the fire at Thieves wood. No knowledge of a Mr Walton.
Marcel Brown “Can remember the flat that got hit on Abbey Road and the man whose flat it was his 2nd name was Booth he was on news next day being interviewed his words were woke up and 2 bricks hit me on head.”
ITV Central News according to Marcel Brown had on-site interviews the following day.
ITV Central confirmed in emails and with the ITV archives, they do not have records or footage.
Some confusing aspects
On top of the newspaper citations and Mr Walton.
It is worth noting, that the explosion itself is also cited as being the crash. In the Ashley Rye report, it says the explosion happened in the air. One report proclaims this explosion, turned the sky red. This is where the assumption has come from that an object was shot down, that is simply not the case. The explosion was definitely the back boiler of the flat at 8 Abbey Road. Which 2 council workers, including the repairman who removed the damaged chimney and a fire crew member who attended, have separately confirmed. There was confusion about it potentially being a gas explosion. These homes in 1987 were not fitting with gas central heating at the time, according to residents on the street I have spoken to.
There are reports of multiple airborne objects, though this can be confused with the different descriptions.
Kristian: Upon original release of this journal report. I have removed a significant portion that focused on speculation and included expanded commentary. I have kept only relevant commentary in place to add context or explanation. As it was taking away from the original purpose of providing a comprehensive timeline.
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