Big Bang Theory!

Lydd Ranges
Lydd Ranges

THE Rye area was rocked this week by a series of huge explosions that shook houses and rattled windows.

Rye police were swamped with calls as frightened residents tried to find out what was happening.

Shockwaves from the explosions were even felt reverberating through the already unstable cliffs at Pett level and Fairlight.

It emerged that the explosions were taking place miles away on the coastal Lydd Ranges, in Kent, where the Ministry of Defence were carrying out detonation tests.

There were five explosions at 11.50am on Monday and a further seven at 14.50. Following a barrage of complaints the Ministry reduced the strength of the blast by around 50 percent as the detonations continued this week.

Bob Ball, from Pett Level, said: “You could actually feel the whole house shake.”

Another alarmed Pett Level resident, who did not want to be named, said: “There are elderly people and pets here who were really quite frightened. It sounded as if someone was trying to break into your home with a sledgehammer.

“The reverberation through the cliffs here was unbelievable and I am really worried as to the effect it will have on stability Young children walk under those cliffs.”

Alice Mason, from Fairlight, said: “The windows were rattling and shaking. I have lived here for 15 years and have never experienced anything as scary as this.

“Where they are detonating these things is right next to Dungeness power station which has a fault line under it. It is frightening.”

Mary Lewis, from Winchelsea Beach, said: “The explosions were really loud. I have never heard anything like it. Lots of people here were quite upset.

Lydd Deputy Range Officer Alan Keeling told residents the increased noise was partly due to atmospherics, low cloud base and wind direction.

Fairlight resident Keith Pollard said: “It was demolition training they are having to do before deployment, presumably to Afghanistan.

“In response to several complaints from residents, squads were asked to reduce the detonations to the minimum required for effective demolition but obviously they had to be powerful enough to achieve success.”

It is not the first time that Lydd Ranges have ben used to carry out explosions. Before the First World War Lydd became an important artillery practice camp. Experiments with high explosives carried out on the shingle wastes around 1888 led to the invention of the explosive Lyddite.