From the Darlington & Stockton Times of May 27, 1922

AS the warmest day since 1895 came to an end, Wensleydale and Swaledale were struck by the worst storm in living memory.

“It was accompanied by meteorological phenomena of an extraordinary character,” said the D&S Times. “Following a heat usually associated with the sultriest days of July or August came the thunder and lightning, accompanied by tempestuous winds of almost hurricane force, rains so heavy that considerable areas were flooded, and showers of hailstones of almost incredible size that broke windows, smashed greenhouses and stripped trees of their leaves and branches.”

The people of Northallerton going to chapel at 6.30pm noticed that something was brewing in the east. “A huge cone-like mountain of cloud, beautifully white at the top, was rising up into the blue sky,” said the D&S. “Then the clouds spread, and wiped out the blue. At 9pm the most terrific thunderstorm ever seen by the present generation broke. Sheet and forked lightning were almost continuous and the quantity at one time was abnormal – three, four and five undulating flashes going in different directions.”

“Lumps of ice, the size of nutmegs, with rough edges” did great damage to north-facing windows in the town, said the D&S’ correspondent, who liked a nutty comparison. A little later in his report, he said the town was hit by hailstones “as big as walnuts” – would those have been bigger than the ones that were the size of a rough edged nutmeg?

Wensleydale bore the brunt of the storm. “The abnormal hailstones and lumps of ice where they had fallen deep into hollows, could be seen for days,” said the paper. “Thousands of motor cars, drawn out by Sabbath leisure and the earlier fine weather, were stopped by deep torrents of water.”

Countless low-lying houses along the dale were inundated, and every house in Aiskew and Bedale had at least one windowpane broken – Sir Henry Beresford-Peirse in Bedale Hall had 35 panes broken but Lady Cowell in Clifton Castle, near Thornton Watlass, had 500 broken.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Famous nurserymen J Harkness and Sons at Leeming Bar had 1,000 large panes broken in their glasshouses and 1,000 coldframes destroyed. “In some cases the hailstones went clean through, making a small hole like a bullet, but in most cases, by the continued fusillade, all the glass was pelted out,” said the D&S.

“A special new kind of lupin, never shown before, has been destroyed,” said the paper. “The destruction is so wide to all kinds of flowers that it is feared there will be no flower displays this year at shows.”

Mrs King’s chickens at Leeming Bar all drowned, three lambs were killed by ice at Crakehall, Mr Lamb’s lamb was struck by lightning at Newton-le-Willows, Mr Butterwick’s two bullocks were killed by lightning at Scruton, as was Mr Cherry’s horse at Gunnerside, while Mr Robinson’s rhubarb at Morton-on-Swale was in a very sorry state.

“It looks as if it has undergone a fusillade of shots,” said the paper.