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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK


Pensioner's home 'swallowed by the earth'

Mineworkings under the house are thought to be 150 years old

A former lorry driver - who has lived in the same house for 50 years - watched in horror as his home was "swallowed up by the earth".

The 64-year-old widower saw his Walsall home collapse into the remnants of a 19th Century mineshaft and disappear underground.

[ image: Only part of Mr Hodson's bathroom was left standing]
Only part of Mr Hodson's bathroom was left standing
The West Midlands Fire Service said Sam Hodson and two other family members fled the rented council property after cracks appeared in the brickwork on Sunday, escaping the collapse by just 10 minutes.

Building engineer Charles Parsons, who was called to the scene, said: "It was getting worse and it was obvious something dreadful was about to happen.

"We let Mr Hodson take a few valuables with him, but he lost all his furniture and possessions in the collapse, which happened in only a few minutes."

A spokesman for Walsall Borough Council said the area around the scene at Hughes Road, Moxley, was "very unstable".

The spokesman added: "The estate was built just after the war so why this has suddenly happened 50 years on is a mystery. Something must have shifted down below."

Neighbour Olive Brooks said the majority of the property had "been swallowed up by the earth", leaving just part of the bathroom above ground level.

The 61-year-old added: "It's a good job the gentleman that lives there wasn't in the house at the time. If it had happened in the middle of the night he wouldn't have stood a chance."

Neighbours said Mr Hodson called in structural engineers after hearing "rumblings and creaks" from the walls.

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