19. Freakish Falls!
During the August of 1920 in Woodford, stones poured from the sky for three consecutive days without explanation. Four years later at Eltham, Plumstead, Woolwich and Shooters Hill a great ice storm battered the area, despite the afternoon being the hottest for two years! The hailstones were the size of eggs, and some jagged in nature, measuring five-inches which fell from the sky, cutting residents who ran for cover.
In January 1975, Fulham Road was bombarded by hailstones weighing 50lb (allegedly)! Flats at Fulham Court were severely damaged during the freakish fall; tiles were smashed to smithereens during the aerial assault. During August of the same year hail as big as marbles descended upon Hampstead, whilst according to reports some three million tons of water hit the North London suburb.
Surprisingly, falls of such weird objects, whether in the form of pennies, huge blocks of ice and even animals have been pretty common, and London has not managed to evade such bizarre downpours.
During 1975, shortly after the aforementioned Hampstead storm, a Kensington man discovered a West African python on his window ledge after one heavy rainfall. The creature was carted off to London Zoo.
On 26th May 1984, a Mr Ron Langton was enjoying some late-night television at his home in East Ham when he was unsettled by a peculiar noise outside. It sounded for all the world as if his roof was being hit every few minutes or so, and all over, by something which slapped as it made impact. The strange noise went on for quite a few minutes but Ron was too relaxed to go outside and take a look. The next morning the man was amazed to find six fish scattered on his roof and lawn. The fish measured approximately twelve centimetres long and appeared to be flounders and whiting.
A more extreme fish fall was record at Canning Town, where two witnesses discovered some forty fish strewn about the gardens. Theories put forward included a waterspout from the Thames lifting the fish, and seagulls had dropping them, but the solutions seemed even more bizarre than the odd events.
In February 2004 people travelling on the Thames Bubbler boat at Dagenham, were astonished when what appeared to be a piranha dropped from nowhere, and slapped onto the deck. The Environment Agency theorised that a seagull had dropped the fish, despite the piranha belonging to waters some five thousand miles away in the murky depths of the Amazon. Those who observed the fish noticed that the beak marks of a gull were evident, but the only suggestion they could come up with as to why the fish had made its way to London, was as an import that was then discarded in the local waters, where it would have perished due to the cold.
By Neil Arnold
Picture taken from Auntie P’s Flickr photostream under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 licence.