Oldham Meteorite ?

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Geoff Burt
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Oldham Meteorite ?

Post by Geoff Burt »

Dear All,

This may be peripheral, but amused and intrigued me enough to post this message on our chat page.

In Eric Sykes’ recently published autobiography, he mentions on p.30 that in the early 1930s on his way to school in Oldham, Lancashire he walked past, “ …a huge black shiny boulder…..reputed to be a meteorite from outer space…..â€
Mike Feist
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Post by Mike Feist »

The answer is no.
The Catalogue of Meteorites by Graham, Bevan & Hutchinson does not mention a meteorite there.
Mike Feist (With his Booth Museum of Natural History hat on.)
Chris_Barlow
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Post by Chris_Barlow »

If it were boulder sized wouldn't it be accompanied by a rather large crater? :?:
AJ
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Post by AJ »

There was a large boulder standing out side the Library in Wavertree Liverpool when I was a kid. It was well polished and shiny and everyone said it was from space but it look more like a lump of Volcanic rock to me.

AJ :roll:
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Alastair McBeath
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Post by Alastair McBeath »

Stones and other objects revered because they were believed to have fallen from the skies, have an ancient lineage, traceable back to the 8th-7th centuries BC in Classical written sources at least (the Palladium of Troy, and the Ancile of Rome). Whether any of these were genuine meteorites is unknown, as none have survived to allow modern analyses. The Palladium was said to be made of wood, for example, so it can't have been meteoritic, unless the idol was a carving based on a meteorite, or perhaps contained a meteorite as part of it.

Whether the Oldham or Wavertree examples were meteoritic too, or were simply believed to be, is an open question. It would be worth checking the local history libraries in both places, or local press archives, as these might have more details, if the stones can no longer be examined.

Either might be associable with a crater only if they were still where they had fallen. Modestly-sized meteorites up to a few metres across generally leave fairly minor craters, which would easily fill in with soil and vegetation quickly in ever-damp Britain. The great 55-tonne Hoba iron in Namibia, or what erosion has left of it, sits in an obvious hole only somewhat larger than its original size, for instance.

I'm not suggesting the Wavertree rock was meteoritic by this, but some meteorites are magmatic/volcanic, such as several classes of the stony achondrites. In some photos, the Ensisheim chondrite could pass for a granite, at least superficially. It's Europe's oldest known meteorite seen to fall, from 1492, now reduced from its original ~127 kg to a mere 56 kg by people removing specimens and "good luck" charms over the centuries, thus all the dark outer fusion crust has gone, leaving only a rounded, granular mass.

Alastair McBeath,
Meteor Director, Society for Popular Astronomy.
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Post by david entwistle »

I happened to be working not far from Liverpool, so I went to have a look for Wavertree Library.

The boulder AJ describes is still there, but now has a plaque adjacent which reads:

'The boulder placed here which is nearly one ton in weight is described as an erratic block of andesitic agglomerate. It was discovered in Gypsy Lane, Wavertree and is said to be carried down to this area by ice from the parent rock in Cumberland during a glacial period some millions of years ago'.

So, as AJ suspected, not a meteorite.
David Entwistle
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Geoff et al(L)
I used to live in Stalybridge and we could see Oldham from our back window. I recall that there was a very large black boulder in our nearest park, Stamford Park. My understanding was that the boulder was an eratic which got deposited in the neighbourhood during the last glacial period - much in the same sort of way that David mentions. However, I suspect the boulder and others like it must have put in the park by humans since I think it unlikely that whoever caused the ice ages actual knew where all the "modern" parks were going to be.
Or could it be proof supporting "intelligent design" !
Best of luck from Cliff
PS I wonder if the Stamford Park boulder is still there. I think it probably is, although I have not been there for many years.
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Post by Steve Worrall »

Cliff wrote: PS I wonder if the Stamford Park boulder is still there. I think it probably is, although I have not been there for many years.
Cliff, the boulder in stamford park is still there. I was alaways led to believe that it was a meteorite when i was a kid and remember being fascinated with it. I can definately say that it was a major factor in my early interest in science and astronomy. Perhaps a bit of kidology is not a bad thing eh! :wink:
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Steve
Nice to hear from someone in my old home town. It is 40 years since I lived in Stalybridge.
I felt sure that the dreaded boulder would still be in Stamford Park.
After all why would anyone bother to move it ?
I have to say I vaguely remember a story that it is\was a meteorite, and I do not know when or how I was told or otherwise got to know the park boulder is an eratic.
Best wishes from Cliff
PS Although I very rarely get to Stalybridge these days I actually drove passed Stamford Park only a couple of Sundays ago.
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Post by david entwistle »

Steve Worrall wrote:
Cliff, the boulder in stamford park is still there. I was alaways led to believe that it was a meteorite when i was a kid and remember being fascinated with it.
I'm happy to confirm what Steve says, the erratic boulder is still there in Stamford Park, Stalybridge.

Image

The only question remaining now, is this the same rock that Eric Sykes was referring to, as a 'meteorite', in his book?
David Entwistle
Geoff Burt
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Post by Geoff Burt »

Hi David,

The autobiography says that Eric Sykes passed the 'meteorite' on his left on the way up Chadderton Road to Northmoor school, if that's any help.

Best Wishes,

Geoff Burt :)
Geoff Burt
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Post by Geoff Burt »

David,

The answer to your question is that the picture doesn't show Eric Sykes' 'meteorite'.

The other day, I contacted the 'Goon Show Preservation Society' who in turn referred 'The Strange Case Of The Meteorite That Wasn't' to the man himself :shock: . Eric has seen your picture and tells us that he's certain it's not the 'meteorite' that he remembers.

So we've answered that question but, the original 'meteorite' (glacial boulder) is presumably still out there somewhere in the wilds of Oldham......

Best Wishes,

Geoff Burt :)
Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear David et al(L)
I am not surprised that the Stamford Park "meteorite" which is not a real meteorite anyway, is not the dreaded "Oldham" meteorite that Eric Sykes referred to. I think many parks in the north of England and maybe elsewhere in the UK have or had their own big rocks (and probably most if not all are "erratics" rather than genuine "meteorites".
However, again tough not of any real astronomical significance, I recall that my Dad (God bless him) once worked in an Oldham Cotton Mill in which Eric had worked at (though not both at the same time!).
Best of luck from Cliff
PS It is all very mythological unless one tells a few lies.
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Eric Sykes`s Oldham Meteorite

Post by wombat »

Came across this completely by accident but I think I can answer this mystery for you. It would seem that Eric's memory has 'understandably' tricked him because the huge stone he refers to at Northmoor was WHITE not black. Indeed there was once a pub called the Whitestone Inn just down the road from where the stone still (rather sadly) sits. The pub is now a mosque and the stone now sits rather anonymously at the entrance to a run down Bangladeshi housing estate. The stone has been there as long as history records and is thought to have been a 'mere stone' (boundary stone) probably marking one extremity of the ancient Northmoor estate. As to it being a meteorite - I have no idea - my love is of local history which is how I came across this - strange thing fate isn`t it ?!
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Re: Eric Sykes`s Oldham Meteorite

Post by david entwistle »

wombat wrote:As to it being a meteorite - I have no idea - my love is of local history which is how I came across this - strange thing fate isn`t it ?!
Dear wombat,

Strange indeed, but thanks for the pointer.

Would you be able to provide an address, post code or grid reference for the pub, or mosque? I struggle to find Chadderton Road on modern maps, is it related to Chadderton Way?

Is this it, in the centre of the image?

Many thanks,
David Entwistle
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