Sunday, 15 January 2017

Zeppelins, Loughborough, Heanor and Led Zeppelin

So, last week Zeppelins featured in my world again. It's almost 101 years since that fateful night - 31st January 1916 - when Zeppelin airships dropped bombs on Loughborough. It is believed their pilots were heading for Liverpool, but because of the inadequate navigation systems available to them at the time, and also because of the lack of orientation possible, due to the blackouts, our town was targeted, as we had left lights on.

In actual fact, there were a number of airships flying into and over Britain on that fateful night, and the raids have become known as the Midlands raid, so as well as bombs dropping on Loughborough, bombs were also released onto Birmingham, Titpon, Wednesbury, Dudley, Walsall, Ilkeston, Bennerley, Stanton, Trowell, Burton, Overseal and Swadlincote - though not necessarily a comprehensive list. 

I popped along to the Heanor and District Local History Society meeting last week to hear Stephen Flinders, Chair of Ilkeston and District Local History Society, talk about the "Terror from the Skies", an account of January 31st 1916, the night the Zeppelins came. And what an exciting talk it was too! Stephen had some interesting information to share with the audience - which numbered in excess of 100 folk - and had done some great work on mapping out the journey of each of the individual Zeppelins involved in the raids on that fateful evening, so we could see the exact route each travelled. We heard stories of lucky escapes, and unfortunate decisions. We heard accounts of Zeppelin-sightings from eye-witnesses, we saw adverts for post-raid Zeppelin attack insurance, we looked at satirical illustrations from the likes of Punch magazine, we heard the story of the message in a bottle, and we wondered at the marketing of Coleman's mustard!

Having listened to Stephen's talk, I now have a bigger picture of the Zeppelin raids of 31st January 1916 which saw so many bombs being released onto the Midlands, the overall death toll being around 71, and the casualties amounting to about 113. According to Derbyshire Life (see below), "the raid on the Midlands on the night of 31st January / 1st February 1916 [was] noted as one of the heaviest of the First World War."

Last year, following a walk led by Bob Stephens, a fellow accredited Leicestershire Tour Guide, I created a virtual walk around Loughborough which you can follow if you wish to visit the sites affected by the Zeppelin bombs. More information on Zeppelins from this blog can be found on the following pages:
And so to Led Zeppelin! The story of their formation seems a bit complicated (think Yardbirds, New Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, John Bonham, Keith Moon etc.). According to Wikipedia (oh go on, please give me a break, I don't actually know much about rock music so I had to look somewhere!!) one of the stories associated with how the band got its name revolves around the idea that a supergroup with Jimmy page and Jeff Beck would, according to Keith Moon and John Entwistle, not go down very well, in fact would be like a lead balloon. Dropping the "a" from lead, and substituting Zeppelin for balloon made for what was considered to be the perfect name for the group which Jimmy page had envisioned. Sounds plausible to me!  
Anyway,if you want to read more about the Zeppelin raids on the Midlands, here are a few websites you could view:
Thanks for stopping by!

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2017). Zeppelins Loughborough Heanor and Led Zeppelin. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 January 2017]


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