|What led to the collapse of dozens
Hollinwell incident is one of the biggest ever unexplained mysteries
in the Midlands. But was it a case of mass hysteria or something
The Hollinwell Incident remains one of the strangest
events ever to happen in Great Britain.
Even though it took place over twenty years ago, the
incident continues to puzzle experts and the local community alike.
At the time it was put down to mass hysteria not seen
since the days of the Beatles. But this was a marching band competition
There are those who still believe something more sinister
was responsible for what became known as The Hollinwell Incident.
Inside Out investigates this strange event in which hundreds
of children collapsed and needed hospital treatment following a brass
band and marching competition.
Falling Like Nine Pins
showground... an extraordinary event
It was a summer Sunday morning at a show ground near
Kirkby in Ashfield.
Children had travelled from all over the East Midlands
for a Junior Brass and Marching Band competition.
But the showground was soon to resemble a battle field.
Band members began to collapse. At first in ones and
twos and then by the dozens.
One witness on the day,Terry Bingham remembers, "They
fell down like nine pins. We didn't know what was happening."
Water companies were quick to check supplies weren't
Were workers near the site several weeks earlier responsible?
Was it a gas leak of some sort?
|What was it
that caused so many children to collapse?
There was also talk of radio waves and even UFO's being
responsible for what was happening that day.
Officials drew a blank. Most victims made a quick recovery
and only nine children were kept in hospital overnight.
But what happened made national and international news.
Suddenly crop spraying became the favourite culprit.
But after a brief inquiry the official theory blamed
mass hysteria as the most likely cause.
Then the report was filed away and forgotten
Eye Witness Reports
Inside Out has tracked down some of the people who were
there on the day.
|Was the official
report's verdict sound?
We have discovered that the chemicals sprayed on the
field which were thought to have been harmless at the time have since
been banned by the Government.
So could a pesticide, which contained the now banned
tridemorph, have contributed to the Hollinwell Incident ?
After all, many local people were deeply suspicious of
the official inquiry conclusion.
Tridemorph is classified by the World Health Organisation
as Class II - a 'moderately hazardous' pesticide. It is harmful if swallowed
and irritating to eyes and skin.
Is it possible that the pesticide caused other side-effects
such as fainting and malaise? It's hard to tell so long after the Hollinwell
Well known cases attributed to mass hysteria include:
UFOs - some researchers believe that 1950s paranoia
and belief in UFOs was all in the mind and should be seen as a form
of cultural mass hysteria.
First World War - some experts believe shellshock
and mass hysteria may be linked.
Beatlemania - obsessive fans at gigs fainted
and collapsed as a result of mass hysteria in the '60s.
The Royal Free Hospital Epidemic of 1955 in London
- an outbreak of encephalomyelitis was blamed on mass or epidemic
hysteria. 200 cases reported. Symptoms included dizziness, vertigo
and profound malaise.
Dalston, Cumbria, 1955 - 233 people affected
by similar medical symptoms including malaise and dizziness.
Salem witches - could the paranoia have been
caused by mass hysteria within a small and isolated community?
The Exorcist - mass hysteria and fainting in
Some commentators still believe that the Hollinwell Incident
could have been caused by mass hysteria.
Medical studies suggest that outbreaks of mass hysteria
share some common characteristics.
The most significant is the susceptibility of women,
especially young women grouped together in institutions such as schools
The type of symptoms common during outbreaks of mass
* nausea and general malaise
* abdominal pain and convulsions
* tremors and hyperventilation
These are often manifestations of anxiety and hyperventilation.
Many outbreaks are sparked off by a specific incident
which gives rise to anxiety.
Another feature of mass hysteria outbreaks is their short
duration - the majority last just a few hours.
The Hollinwell Incident certainly displayed some of these
A Frightening Puzzle
So was mass hysteria to blame for hundreds of children
collapsing at Hollinwell?
Or was it a case of pesticide spraying or chemicals being
breathed in by the children?
It's a puzzle that's hard to unravel twenty years after
the event, and one which we'll never be able to solve for sure until new
evidence comes to light.