North Shropshire Lib Dem election HQ saved from flames

Phew! What a scorcher! That’s a phrase we have rarely heard in the UK since 1976. Here in Shropshire, the Shropshire Star reported yesterday seven combine harvester fires over the last week. There have been a at least a couple of more fires since, including at Soulton Hall.

Soulton Hall has a particular place in the history of the Lib Dems and our current fightback against the Tories. After the enforced resignation of Owen Paterson amid a typical Tory scandal, Soulton Hall became the base for Helen Morgan’s successful campaign to replace him.

Two days ago, farmer and Lib Dem supporter Tim Ashton was combining a wheat field. The combine harvester developed problems. Tim quickly realised that quenching the subsequent fire was “like using a thimble to bale an ocean”. The fire was at risk of spreading to the nearby historic Soulton Hall. Working with a neighbouring farmer, a firebreak was created and Shropshire Fire & Rescue arrived to dowse down the wreckage. A small area of crop was lost along with the combine but Soulton Hall and part of Lib Dem history was saved.

I cannot recall so many combine harvester fires in such a short period. It is sign, as Tim says during his BBC radio interview, of climate change. It is also a warning that while the ambient temperature may only be around 30°, locally there are hotter spots where fire risk is high.



Soulton Hall with some of the election team

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Yeovil Yokel 12th Aug '22 - 10:07am

    I can speak from personal experience that machinery fires amongst flammable crops can be truly frightening. It sounds like Tim and his neighbour kept their heads and managed the incident well before the fire service arrived. Here in S. Somerset we’re hoping for a little rain early next week to dampen the vegetation and reduce the temperature, until then we’re being extra-cautious and combining has been proceeding more slowly than normal.

  • Phew! What a scorcher! That’s a phrase we have rarely heard in the UK since 1976.

    This summer is on track to be around 2˚C less of a scorcher than 1976…

    ‘UK heatwave: How do temperatures compare with 1976?’ [24th. July]:

    Below are the daily maximum temperatures for the CET, from June 1st to July 21st. For this period, the average temperatures were 23.9C in 1976 and 21.6C this year: [Graph]

    I cannot recall so many combine harvester fires in such a short period.

    All making hay while the sun shines (and moisture content is low).

    It is sign, as Tim says during his BBC radio interview, of climate change.

    That’s a sign of uninformed hysteria.

    ‘Hot Weather Means Climate Change–Cold Means Weather!’ [12th. August]:

    This meteorological set up with a run of high pressure across the North Atlantic and northern Europe has been a common sight this summer, and is the reason for the persistently high temperatures, rather than climate change as is routinely claimed.

    But for every area of high pressure, there is one of low pressure. And for much of this summer, it has sat over Greenland. That means plenty of cloud, lower temperatures and snowfall.

    The summer melt of Greenland’s ice sheet started two weeks later than normal, and the surface ice mass is currently about 100 Gt above average: [Graphs] […]

    And the moral of this story?

    Don’t confuse weather with climate.

  • @Jeff 12th Aug ’22 – 12:30pm…If only those climate experts read the same links as you do there would be no need to worry..
    I trust, now that even Rees-Mogg admits that delays at Dover are Brexit related you’ll leave your other hobby horse behind..Perhaps, in time, climate change denying will follow?

  • Andy Boddington 13th Aug '22 - 9:15am

    @Jeff You are making huge assumptions here driven by your own beliefs and not any consideration of the article. Firstly, it is irrelevant that it may or may not prove hotter than 1976. My remark was I haven’t heard the phrase “Phew! What a scorcher!” since 1976. Of course the moisture content of the wheat is low, and as in 1976 it is diminishing the value of the crop. But that doesn’t seem to be the cause of the combine fires rather than overheating.

    And your bizarre moral, don’t confuse weather with climate change. I’m not making that confusion. Tim is not making that confusion. It is agreed by the large majority of scientists that the world is warming, whatever is currently happening in Greenland. And there is agreement that episodes of extreme heat such as that being felt over much of Europe has been made more probable by that warming. That is not uniformed hysteria. It is smelling the scientific coffee.

  • Andy Boddington 13th Aug '22 - 9:39am

    On a lighter note, because I had made a search on combine harvesters, the Mighty Google came up with this:

    I saw the Wurzels in the small Shropshire town of Clun more than a decade ago. They were awful but beer in hand and a room full of farmers and we were singing our heads off.

  • Chris Moore 14th Aug '22 - 8:45am

    July 19th 2022 beat the highest average daily temperature record – set in 2019- for the UK by about 2 degrees celsius.

    Various UK records for absolute maximum temperatures were broken.

    Good to see you resorting to some careful cherry-picking to comfort yourself, Jeff!

    The reality is that worldwide warming has multiple and over-wheming evidence behind it.

    There will be more scorchers, more often, in countries around the world, as a result.

  • @Jeff – I bet you are glad your advice wasn’t sought after 1976, otherwise the investment in water infrastructure would not have happened and water rationing and standpipes and water tankers would now be an everyday feature on our streets.

    BTW one of the articles you linked to contains an easily verifiable lie, I didn’t bother reading the other given its from the same website… So I’m not sure what you are trying to convey other than you are demonstrating just how successful the climate change deniers fake information campaign has been in getting gullible people to believe nonsense to be fact.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Nonconformistradical
    @Chris Moore "PR comes way down the list of voters’ priorities." Could that be because we've made a poor job of promoting it e.g. as an important step towar...
  • Chris Moore
    Hello Steven, PR comes way down the list of voters' priorities. The tiny few who make PR their top priority will already be LD supporters or members. It's...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Roland, I'm not quite sure how the bond "market" can tell the UK government anything. We have buyers who would like the best possible return on their purch...
  • Alex Macfie
    The Lib Dems were able to take votes from the Tories in the Charles Kennedy era while positioning the party as more radical than Labour. Radicalism doesn't mean...
  • Bradley Nelson
    A second house has to be wholly elected for me, if we’re campaigning to reform HoL based on the democratic deficit, you can’t keep the spirituals and heredi...