Oxhey mystery Chasm

Film on Pathe Newsreel, 1927

This film shows the exterior of a suburban house in Oxhey with a huge hole in front of it. Shows a group of people working together to fill in a hole left by a tree.

This page was added on 17/07/2010.

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  • This event is mentioned in “Unnatural Death” by Dorothy L. Sayers (ch. 19) published the same year.

    By JB (04/08/2023)
  • I used to live at 16 Hayling Road. The deep hole that suddenly appeared on the golf course behind our house was in the middle of an old golf course bunker. I was there with friends at the moment it happened. There had been heavy rain during the previous night and the bunker was nearly full of water, which was unheard of previously. Half a dozen of us were standing around throwing stones into the water. Suddenly there was loud ‘slurping noise’ and a huge hole opened up just a few feet away from us. I would say it was about one and a half metres in diameter. To us it seemed bottomless at the time…the water in the bunker simply fell straight down and vanished. Then the sides began to fall away/slide down into the hole. We were all well aware that at the time how lucky we were to have been on the edge of the bunker. There was, perhaps a contributing factor involved which we thought of at the time. There was a buried water tap about twenty feet away, between the bunker and what we called the First Dell, or Big Dell. This was probably to water the flat green above the bunker when the golf course was in use a few years before, and was also used by the fairground workers when the fair came. The tap was at times left exposed….

    By Pete Boulter (23/01/2022)
  • I remember a large hole opening up at the lower end of Hayling Road one Sunday morning in the mid  1960s. There was a lot of rain overnight and the hole was near the open area, near one of the dells as we called them.

    By Elwyn Davies (22/05/2015)
  • A large hole similar to this appeared in a shed at the old Airflow works on Oxhey Lane, now Whelans yard opposite By the Wood. An employee was working in what had once been an old brick drying shed when the ground gave way and he fell some twenty feet into the resulting chasm. His workmates managed to get him out shaken but uninjured. This happened in the 1950’s, and the hole was filled with whatever came to hand. In the 1990’s, the site of the hole could still be seen inside the old disused shed where the ground had subsided. The shed is long demolished now and has been replaced with modern buildings. The site was once a brickworks run by the Stone family.

    By Neil Hamilton (02/07/2012)
  • I would like to add that there have been further holes appearing in Kingsfield Road, at the junction with Kingsfield Court, in the 1980’s and 1990’s. As far as I can remember, none were as large as the ones that appeared outside 61 and 63 Kingsfield Road.

    By Freda Boulter (18/03/2011)
  • It’s highly unlikely that this sort of event would ever happen on the estate at South Oxhey as it is mostly (75%) underlain by a thick layer of London Clay, which naturally thins in a north/north-easterly direction towards the old village of Oxhey. Here, the underlying geology consists of a narrow band of Reading Beds, with some later gravel deposits in places, which cover the underlying Upper Chalk bedrock. It is possible that the excavation of the railway cutting in the vicinity of Kingsfield Road during the 19th century was also a contributory factor in the dramatic subsidence described above.

    By John Swain (14/02/2011)
  • The Watford Observer reported in June 1927 that a hole 20 feet deep and 20 feet in diameter appeared in front of 63 Kingsfield Road, Oxhey, swallowing the entire front garden, brickwork and railings. If that was not bad enough, the hole increased to 80 ft depth by 30 ft wide during the day (Tuesday). By Thursday, 400 tons of materials had been swallowed by the hole and not a trace of them could be seen for the hole by then was 200 ft deep, caused by a cavity in the chalk. It prompted considerable consternation and concern among the residents and attracted many visitors and theorists. Experts were called in but in October a 17 ft by 12 ft hole appeared in front of No.61, discovered by a paper boy who noticed the pavement and a major part of the garden had disappeared as he was about to make his delivery. Meetings were held, the wise men scratched their heads and residents were assured that it would not happen again. However, in the winter of 1963, a hole suddenly appeared in Kingsfield Road, measuring 12 ft deep, not far from the 1927 incident. Once again, subsidence in the chalk beneath was held responsible. Sources: Watford in the Twenties, Watford Observer, October 1997; Watford in the Sixties, Watford Observer, June 1997.

    By John Swain (11/02/2011)