Wednesday, December 01, 2004

New Theory on Fauld Explosion -was it a V2?

A new theory about the biggest explosion on the UK mainland-

4,000 tonnes of high explosive bombs and ammunition went up that day, creating a 100ft-deep crater which still remains. It is a poignant memorial to the 70 who died.
An official inquiry blamed one of the victims, an airman, who tried to chip away at a bomb with a brass chisel, causing a spark and an explosion.
But Alec Savidge, whose father survived the blast, has a new theory about what caused it.He says it was not an accident, but was caused by a German V2 rocket. Suzanne Harrop tells his story. ON the morning of November 27, 1944, electrician Tom Savidge was walking back to the offices at RAF Fauld when he heard an enormous blast and saw smoke billowing above the trees.The 66-year-old headed straight for an air raid shelter. There he heard a second bang.Some 4,000 tonnes of bombs and ammunitions had just exploded. An investigation into the incident concluded that an airman had tried to chip at a bomb with a brass chisel. This caused the spark which set off the explosion.But in the 60 years since many have refused to accept the official line. Instead they have suggested that the incident was the result of sabotage, lax security or inexperienced employees.Now Tom Savidge's son, who was 19 years old at the time, has put forward a new theory. He believes the two bangs heard by his father and many other witnesses hold the key.Alec Savidge had been serving in London at the time, when German V1 rockets were attacking the capital. He had moved back to serve in Nottinghamshire before the V2 attacks started. But he had friends there who experienced the horrors and recounted them to him.It was these tales that led Mr Savidge to believe that the ammunitions store explosion had been caused by a German V2 warhead. This would explain the two bangs, he says.He is convinced that the first was caused when the V2 hit the ground, and the second when the ammo exploded.It has taken him two-and-a-half years to find evidence to back up his theory."I think the RAF knew right from the start that it was caused by a German V2 rocket, but it was covered up because the RAF did not want to create a panic by revealing the Germans could accurately pinpoint military targets in Britain."I believe it was a very very carefully arranged operation by the Germans", Mr Savidge said.The spectacular theory is based on a photograph contained in the Official Findings of the December 1944 Court of Inquiry into the explosion. The findings had been kept under wraps until 1974, when the official secrets' 30-year rule expired.Mr Savidge, who is originally from Shobnall but now lives in Wodonga, Victoria, Australia, obtained copies of the documents two-and-a-half years ago. He has studied them since. The photograph is captioned "fragment of thick-case bomb" and the RAF says it is the remainder of an exploded bomb from the ammunitions store.But Mr Savidge is convinced this is a fragment of the V2's tail section, after comparing the photograph with V2 dimensions.But his dramatic theory does not stop there. He also believes the V2 was filled with an uranium warhead that did not explode. He says instead it went into meltdown causing an extreme heat that led to the devastating explosion. In short it was a Nazi attempt to create an atomic explosion."It is historically documented that Goering asked scientists how much explosive would be needed to set an atomic bomb off", the 79-year-old said."They said it would take thousands of tonnes of explosives, which could be why they wanted to target Fauld. The Germans hoped the explosion of all the bombs at Fauld would set off the atomic bomb."What I do think happened is that the V2 was filled with a uranium warhead that did not explode. Instead it went into meltdown releasing heat which in turn caused the bombs in Fauld to explode. This is very difficult to prove." But there is evidence to back up the sensational theory, according to Mr Savidge.The 1944 Court of Inquiry into the explosion heard of a terrific heat coming from the crater, which Mr Savidge believes was caused by the meltdown of the nuclear warhead.Claims have been made that radioactivity was found around the crater from John Bowley, an Anslow man who is also now living in Australia."In around 1949 or 1950 he bought what he thought was a metal detector which he attached to his tractor to find any unexploded bombs in the farmland soil he was ploughing", Mr Savidge said."As he went near the crater the metal detector was making so much noise that he thought it was faulty so he shut it off and put it away in his shed."A few days later a police officer went around and confiscated the metal detector, which turned out to be a Geiger counter." But could the V2 rocket be sophisticated enough to accurately pinpoint RAF Fauld and could it travel that far? The V2 rockets detonated over London were fired from Holland and Mr Savidge thinks the V2 rocket was fired off the coast near Skegness.He believes the accuracy of the bomb was due to a homing device smuggled in by a German parachutist.He said: "Weeks before the explosion a young schoolboy took a shortcut across the fields near Fauld and he saw a parachutist in a German uniform."He told his school friends and they told the teachers who told the police, but the police did not believe him."Was this German parachutist carrying a homing device which would have directed the V2 to Fauld?" Mr Savidge has contacted Burton and Uttoxeter MP Janet Dean about his theory, who wrote to Ivor Caplin MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans.He also contacted the deputy head of the RAF's Air History Branch, Group Captain Steve Lloyd who disputes the theory. He says the metal skin of the "fragment thick-case bomb" is too thick to be a German V2 and Fauld was beyond the V2's range at the time and could not have pinpointed Fauld with such accuracy.Mrs Dean said: "Ivor Caplin's reply to me basically maintains the findings of the official inquiry." Mr Savidge said: "They have tried to disprove my theory, but I believe that I am right and they are just continuing the cover-up."Sixty years later the Ministry of Defence still denies the fact a V2 rocket could have caused the Fauld explosion, even though confronted with photographic evidence from their own files." So Mr Savidge's theory just adds to the speculation and mystery.Joyce's 15-year-old brother was never foundThe people who experienced the Fauld explosion, or lost relatives in it, will remember that fateful day for the rest of their lives.Ken McLeod, who lives in Burton, was working in a large cavern, known as the old alabaster mine, at RAF Fauld, on the day and was aged just 21.He remembers that everything went pitch-black and the air was full of dust and grit. Luckily, he escaped with only a few grazes.He said: "I was very, very lucky. It'll be something I'll always remember for as long as I live." His wife, Joyce, who he met after the explosion, will also remember the day. She lost her brother, Lewis Frow (15), in the disaster.Mrs McLeod, who was 17 at the time, said: "I was working in a factory in Burton and it shook. We thought we were being bombed. It wasn't until later that we discovered it was the ammunition dump."My brother worked there. I went home and my mother said I should go to the dump and fetch Lewis."When I got to the main gate you could not see the devastation there because it looked normal."I spoke to a Ministry of Defence policeman, who said the dump had gone up but Lewis was OK and he would be home at the usual time."But he never came home. We waited for news, and it came three days later in a telegram which said he was missing and presumed dead."His body was never found." Explosion anniversary marked with memorial serviceThe 60th anniversary of the Fauld explosion will be marked today with a service at the gigantic crater.The service is held each year and is organised by Hanbury Parish Council in memory of the 70 people who lost their lives. They included workmen, members of the local community, RAF personnel and Italian prisoners-of-war.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Taylor Woodrow has been chosen as preferred partner to regenerate Uttoxeter town centre. Selected by East Staffordshire Borough Council in partnership with Uttoxeter Plus and Staffordshire County Council, Taylor Woodrow is working with architects Brownhill Hayward Brown on the redevelopment of 4ha on two town centre sites. Details of the scheme will be shaped by public consultation but it could comprise civic and health facilities, up to 180 homes and 2,322m2 of shops.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Town Hall Meeting - A Fiasco

The meeting turned out to be, after all the disinformation and subterfuge of council and press, a bit of a damp squib. No decisions were to be made this night, - the meeting seemed at times like the company of wolves if only the wolves were smug, satisfied, pompous, fatuous, conceited, condescending, rude and incompetent and that was just Mr Mayor.

Scoring and settling old scars, points of order, and obscufated historical deviations seemed to be the order of the night. About 12 representatives of the people viewed the proceedings, while the- for the most part, largely silent- board of councillors bored their barely invited public.

Mr Mayor abused his position of chair by introducing the recent Town Hall petition in a derisory manner, to the smirks of well fed councillors, but was later forced to apologise. It was pointed out that three times ther number of people had signed the petition than had voted for the newly elected Tory Councillor (who remained silent for the whole of the evening).

It was agreed, eventually, that consultation would take place between ESBC and Uttoxeter Council on the future of the Town Hall. Indications from the Tory side left the impression that their mind was set on selling off the grand old edifice.

The story isn't over yet!

Town Hall Debate Tonight

There is a special meeting of the Town Council tonight Tues Aug 31st at 7PM to discuss to future of the Town Hall.
The Councillors have three options - to sell the building, to have a developer take over the building on the provison that it retains usage for the community, or the status quo.

Come along and make your voice heard, we'll post an update here tomorrow.

7PM Town Hall Uttoxeter

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Uttoxeter Chosen as Beacon Town

Uttoxeter has received the status of a Beacon T own as part of its plans to boost transportation in the town. The award is part of the Government's Rural White Paper, to recognise the crucial role that market towns play in rural life. It tasked the Countryside Agency with developing and promoting a market towns health-check, to identify good practice and identify and support a national beacon town network as part of an overall approach to revitalising market towns in partnership with the regional development agencies. Beacon towns will influence policy at regional, national and EU levels and encourage others follow their lead.

Cattle Market Contracts Exchanged

East Staffordshire Borough Council has finally exchanged contracts with Bagshaws.
Redevelopment is likely to start by November 2005. The council is holding discussions with potential developers for a mixed project of homes and businesses. Let us hope that the Welbeck Land fiasco is not repeated and that the citizens of the town have full consultation on any development.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Shane Meadows New Film!

Uttoxeter's famous film director Shane Meadows will premiere his new film, Dead Man's Shoes at the Edinburgh Film Festival on 20th August. it stars the brilliant local hero Paddy Considine, who was stunning in Jim Sheridan's in "In America". Its quite a change from Shane's criticially acclaimed previous films 24/7, A Room for Romeo Brass and Once upon a time in the Midlands. It's a nihilistic revenge movie............a Kill Bill for Uttoxeter?
It opens across the UK on 1 October.
Find out more at

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Masterplan wins award - townspeople amazed!

The Uttoxeter Masterplan has won an award for being one of the best in the Midlands.
The Masterplan scooped the first ever Midlands Market Towns Award.
A masterplan which includes rising bollards (not a misprint), new signs and paint for the railway station, more road signs and spruced up shop fronts has won-what did the runner up plans ask for?
More when we get it.

Public Meeting - Uttoxeter the people speak

Sept 2nd at 7.30 in the Town Hall
There will an opportunitiy to voice your opinions and hear others speak about the future of Utooxeter. it's a chance for you to have your say and contribute. To tell politicians and uttoxeter Plus what you think should be happening in Uttoxeter.
Come along meet local groups and contribute to the evening. Come along at 7.30 on the 2nd Sept.

If you'd like to help organise the event and get involved then call Dave Parkes on 01889 569865

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Town Hall Campaign Gathers Momentum

The Campaign to save the town Hall in Uttoxeter has gathered almost 1,000 signatures.
The petition, organised by former town councillor Peter Edginton, has been gathering momentum since volunteers collected signatures from shoppers and residents in the town centre on Saturday, July 31, and earlier on Saturday, July 17.
The Civic Society have proposed an alternative solution for the future of the site members suggest the recently formed Uttoxeter Heritage Trust purchases the town hall for a token nominal fee.
Mr Edginton said the petition would remain open to signatures until the end of August. "Stalls will once again be set up in the High Street outside the town hall on Saturday and on Wednesday, August 18. "Anyone who would like to sign a petition should come along and see us then." A petition is also available for signing in the Uttoxeter Advertiser office in Market Place, Uttoxeter.
Citizens do your duty!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Public Monument and Sculpture Association

The Public Monument and Sculpture Association National Recording Project has an excellent entry on the Kiosk/ Conduit/ Johnson Memorial in the Market Place with details of the architect and the status of the 1854 building.
Find it here at and a fine photograph of the Dr Johnson bas relief which was added in 1877 here
Other recordings of architectural sculptures, carvings and monuments of the town also appear. See the full database here

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Letter from concerned Uxonian-Uttoxeter blogspot salutes you

Has anyone else noticed the spate of vandalism lately, aimed at our local buildings? In normal circumstances these could be reported to the appropriate authorities, but what does one do when both perpetrators and authorities seem to be in collusion? Perhaps whoever designed the signs which say: 'Welcome to Uttoxeter - an historic market town' should be pointed to the nearest opticians, as any evidence of history is quickly disappearing. The contractors who carry out this demolition and so-called 'restoration work' are not to blame as they are only following orders from architects and planners, who seem to have no concept of aesthetics or the vernacular. Kayjay's old shop (on the corner of High Street and Bradley Street) is a prime example. First of all, the rear of the building was flattened and the site cleared, including a vast number of old bricks, which could have been used for rebuilding both the gable-end and the front, but this was not to be as new bricks were used. These in my opinion now stand out a mile from the original rear elevation. This is not renovation, more like bastardisation, if you'll excuse the expletive. Work is about to start on Peter Pike's old shop in the Market Place and I wonder if this is also going to end up looking like a pig's ear? According to the plans, which I presume have been passed, a complete neo-Georgian front will supplant both the existing monstrosity of the ground floor facade and the present Georgian brickwork above it. As the roof of this building (so I'm told) is medieval and there are still timber-framed sections to the rear and side alleyway, I would have thought that a complete timber-framed front restoration could be achieved (not unlike Sergeant's butcher shop) using Green Oak and either brick or lime-mortar infill panels, thus bringing it back to its former glory, even if this involved incorporating stanchions or RSJs discreetly into the structure. Two great extensions are also planned for the rear, leaving a 30-yard long alleyway, destroying any future plans for a tastefully renovated paved area surrounded by small shops. As regards the Town Hall, I am not totally against a sale, or even some private sponsorship, as long as a stipulation for retention of usage by the community is adhered to. The acoustics of the building at the moment are ideal for choral music only, but unfortunately dire for any type of amplified music due to the height of the interior. One solution could be to put in a new ceiling and upper floor making the upper area ideal for concerts, meetings, banquets and wedding receptions etc and the lower area ideal for amplified music and theatre and art-related events, especially if a new bar and cafe were to be located at the rear of the building together with a new people-friendly entrance. This has happened with civic buildings in other towns and could happen here if only Uxonians would get off their backsides and pester to death the authorities in question. F Hopwood Colne Mount Uttoxeter

Changes in Management at Racecourse

Stanley Clarke the knighted founder of Northern Racing,which includes Uttoxeter Racecourse,has moved over from Executive Chairman to make room for his son Simon. Clarke Snr will become the company's life president from August 9th.

Low turnout in election benefits Tories

The results of the recent election in the Town Ward secured a victory for the Tories but with an appalling turnout, of just over 15% of the electorate. Of 4678 potential voters only 728 exercised their right to vote. Controversially no ballot papers were issued to voters, the usual town hall polling station was relocated to to the St John's Ambulance hall on Carter Street, no reminders appeared through letterboxes and voters just had to turn up on the day. Labour's James Russell lost out to the Tory Hermione Montgomery by 71 votes.

Uttoxeter ( Town Ward)
Hermione Esther Montgomery The Conservative Party Candidate 397 Elected
James Simon Russell The Labour Party Candidate 326

Ballot Papers 728
% Poll 15.56 Electorate 4678

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Weaver Lodge at risk- another landmark building about to be lost to the developers for bland housing. This is nothing short of carpetbagging by ESBC if this planning application is approved. The Civic Society have complained about the planning application and hopefully we'll make the council see sense.
Let us know your thoughts


Friday, July 23, 2004

Roman Villa in Uttoxeter?

Where is the Roman Villa? The Uttoxeter Archaeology Society is planning an arial survey of the town's surrounding area to pinpoint what could be a major archaeological and historical find-A Roman Villa. It is unusual to find Roman Villa's in Staffordshire and this would change the way historians think about Roman Britain in this part of the country.
See more about Roman Villa's at

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Welcome to Uttoxeter Blog!

Welcome to the Uttoxeter Blog - a place for news and views of Uttoxeter. A virtual place for people to share news about plans for the town, developments and ideas. A forum for the people in the area to read about the town and contribute to it's development. If you've an event to share or news about anything of interest to the good citizens of the town then this is the place. We will post items of interest, highlight campaigns and beat the local newspapers to the stories which affect you.
Keep watching.....

Redfern's Third Edition?

Did Uttoxeter's Historian Francis Redfern rewrite his "History and Antiquities of Uttoxeter"?
The preface to the facsimilie reprint of the 1886 edition printed in 1998 states that he produced a third edition which exists as a document in the William Salt Library in Stafford. Use the following link
The William Salt library can't locate a copy there-so where is it? does it, did it exist? Who wrote the preface?
More on this as the story develops.