East Yorkshire had nuclear missiles powerful enough to destroy a city

The American Ivy Mike hydrogen bomb test in 1952.

RAF Catfoss is long forgotten. Today, the runway is home to an industrial estate and the old station houses make up a quiet hamlet.

But half a century ago, this peaceful corner of Holderness was on the frontline of the Cold War.

In the late 1950s, Catfoss was one of five bases in East Yorkshire chosen as launch sites for Britain’s first nuclear missiles.

American Thor IRBMs, which carried warheads big enough to destroy an entire city, were installed here in 1958.

Bases in Driffield, Carnaby, Full Sutton and Breighton, also received the ballistic missiles, as part of a programme codenamed Project Emily.

Four years later, as the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Thor missiles were placed on full standby and could have been launched within 15 minutes. Continue reading “East Yorkshire had nuclear missiles powerful enough to destroy a city”

Witches and black magic died hard in superstitious East Yorkshire

Vincent Price as Matthew Hopkins in the 1968 film, Witchfinder General.

Some time in the middle years of the 19th century, an East Yorkshireman had grown sick and his horse had died. One night, when the afflicted fellow and his wife were sat by the fire, the kitchen clock began to moan.

Terrified, and convinced they had been bewitched, they called a wise man, ‘J.S.’, who was brought to the house by a coachman.

At midnight, J.S. began a ritual to defeat the witch; he read the Lord’s Prayer backwards, tore the heart from a still-living black hen, punctured it with pins and buried it. Then, as he chanted to evil spirits, he performed a conjuring trick with some “fizzing stuff” that made water boil furiously, an effect so impressive that when he offered to summon the prince of darkness himself, the coachman begged him to stop.

It may read like a scene from a Hammer Horror film, but there is reason to believe the tale is at least partly true. The events, which happened in the ancient village of Kirkburn, were recorded a few years later by a Dr Wood, of Driffield, who had heard it from the coachman. The mysterious ‘J.S.’, from Haisthorpe, was renowned as a faith healer with magical powers. On one occasion he “healed” a woman at Speeton who had been bedridden for years. The grateful woman, gripped by a religious frenzy, led her friends singing and dancing through Bridlington. Continue reading “Witches and black magic died hard in superstitious East Yorkshire”

The Bible in East Yorkshire dialect – God meead heaven an’ ath oot o’ nowt

The Creation, by Lawrence W Ladd, 1880.

If the Bible had been written in the East Riding, how would it read? In The Folk Speech of East Yorkshire, published in 1889, Hull author John Nicholson has a go at finding out by rewriting Genesis in the North Holderness Dialect.

1. I’ beginnin’ God meead heaven an’ ath oot o’ nowt.

2. An’ ath was wi’oot shap, an’ emty: and dahkness was uppa feeace o’ deep. An’ sperit o’ God storred uppa feeace o’ watthers.

3. An’ God sed, Let ther’ be leet: an’ ther’ was leet. Continue reading “The Bible in East Yorkshire dialect – God meead heaven an’ ath oot o’ nowt”