The event of April 1986 happened about 1400 miles from Leek at 1.23am local time on the 26th April when a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union exploded releasing into the atmosphere 120 million curies of radioactive material- more than one hundred times the radiation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined. The plume of atomic fallout was carried north west into Western Europe reaching the UK and exposing several million people to its effects. In addition to the 30 emergency workers killed on the spot , some 30,000 people would later die from complications caused by exposure to radiation. The first reports that something was wrong were of aircraft landing in Manchester displaying high levels of radiation . The weekend that the cloud passed over the area was a rainy one. Precipitation landed on the hills and days after locals were advised by Environmental Agencies not to drink rainwater as it would have contained fall out. Some locals still obtained their drinking water from local wells. A press release in an attempt to reassure holiday makers went on to say
“ People who are camping and drinking rainwater should not worry it is only those who are drinking rainwater all the time should take precautions”
On the subject of additions to the water there was news that the fluoride debate was coming to a head with demands from the Health Authority that the chemical be added to the water supply through reservoirs at Deep Hayes and Tittersworth. The reasoning being that North Staffordshire was the third worst district in the West Midlands for tooth decay and use of fluoride was an effective way of improving dental health. It would cost the authority £500,000.
The weather in the spring of 1986 was cold and wet which caused concern at the National Garden Festival site at the former steel works at Etruria. Officials were also worried that frogmen who were checking the water feature at the Moorlands Display on the site prior to the Queen opening the Festival in early May might damage the artificial lake. The bad weather had effected the shrubs that had been planted. A number had withered and were replaced. Pupils from Westwood High had worked on a Golden Pagoda on the site.
On the 14th August 1914 the Old Leek Battery left town heading for the front in the opening days of the First World War. They were the first territorial division to go into action. In four years of war 27 members of the battery were killed. The survivors of the 3rd Battery, 231 Brigade, 46th North Midland Division chose to remember their dead by holding an annual dinner from 1920 onward. On Saturday 19th April 1986 their were only 5 veterans left- Ernie Taylor, Jack Robey, Walter Serrell, Charlie Spratt and Harry Goldstraw who met at the Izaak Walton Hotel, Ilam for the 66th time to raise glasses to fallen comrades.
A previous conflict was recognised in Leek when members of the Sealed Knot the English Civil War re-enactment society came to the town to drum up- literally- interest in 17th century History. They bought with them examples of medicines herbal preparation that would have been used in the war. The aim of the society was to raise funds so that a Civil War Museum could be built in Worcester.
Two brothers met after a gap of 53 years when Franciszek Szmuniewski 77 welcomed his brother Kazik to his Staffordshire Moorlands home. Their wives Janina and Zosia also met. After the Second World war over 1.6 million Poles preferred to stay in resettlement camps in Western Europe than return to a Communist homeland. Western European states short of labour and in the midst of economic and material reconstruction were initially open to importing certain categories of stateless person. Britain especially needed coal miners and took in 86,000 people in this way. Franciszek had settled at the Blackshaw Moor and had run a Polish school at the camp. His daughter Barbara told the local paper that his level of English despite all the years was lamentably poor