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In A Tiny English Town, A 'Hum' Pierces Each Night

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In A Tiny English Town, A 'Hum' Pierces Each Night


In A Tiny English Town, A 'Hum' Pierces Each Night

In A Tiny English Town, A 'Hum' Pierces Each Night

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Melissa Block talks to Kevin Fail — resident of Woodland, a small village in County Durham, England — about the mysterious noise many of the residents have heard. It's a hum that comes every day sometime between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The town's residents do not know where it's coming from.


Things are humming right along in the small village of Woodland, England, and that's the problem. People there say they have been plagued by a mysterious noise, a low-frequency hum that permeates the town in the middle of the night.

And Kevin Fail is one of the Woodland residents trying to figure out where that hum is from.

Kevin Fail, how does this hum sound?

Mr. KEVIN FAIL: How does it sound? It's a cross between a hum and a buzz. It sounds electrical, like an electric generator, electric wire.

BLOCK: Uh-huh.

Mr. FAIL: There was nothing like that anywhere near, and it's very hard to impersonate the sound, really.

BLOCK: Oh, try.

Mr. FAIL: It's like...

(Soundbite of buzzing)

BLOCK: Mm. And once you noticed it, are you hearing it all the time in the middle of the night now?

Mr. FAIL: Well, I mean, I have tinnitus in one ear, and I tend to sleep on my right side. So I hadn't really heard it for a while. And I got to mention, too, and I spoke to the wife. I say, Michelle(ph), like, have you heard the sound? And she said no. She started laughing, just thinking I was taking the Mickey.

Well, anyway, about six, seven hours later, I went to bed, and she just laid down, and she actually jumped straight up. She said, what's that noise? And then we were all over the house trying to find this noise. I mean, the problem is because where we live, it's extremely quiet. You know, we have one road going through the village, and that's it.

So on an evening, it is very quiet here, and sound kind of travel. I mean, we are - this is an old mining village. And underneath, the ground is riddled with, like, empty mineshafts. It even crossed our mind maybe it's emanating from below ground. But, obviously, these mines got closed in the '50s, so I mean, it's not like anybody has left the pit lamp on.

BLOCK: Is it the kind of sound that would wake you up in the middle of the night?

Mr. FAIL: No. It doesn't, I mean, well, I mean, you do have people in the village saying they can hardly get to sleep for it. I don't agree with that. It's not an irritating sound. If you can imagine if you're upstairs and you can hear your refrigerator buzzing, it's just about as loud as that. Well, I mean, I have the wife to contend with, and she's irritating enough, anyway.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Well, let's not get into that, Mr. Fail.

Mr. FAIL: But - yeah, well, she won't hear this, because this isn't getting played over there, so I'm happy that she's not (unintelligible) minute. But it's - there's been not much interest in it from worldwide. Last night, about 1 o'clock, that was 1:00 in the morning, there was like a hippie bus from the '70s pulled up.

BLOCK: Oh, yeah?

Mr. FAIL: And there was like New Age sort of - I didn't - follow flying saucers or whatever, but they were like hippies, you know?

BLOCK: They were checking out the hum.

Mr. FAIL: Of course, it's attracting strange people.

BLOCK: There have been a number of places around the world that have reported having a similar hum. It sounds like similar to what you're describing. We heard about a hum in New Zealand five years ago in this program. There's been a hum in Taos, New Mexico, and it popped up in an episode of "The X-Files," where a character was plagued by a humming in his ear. Let's take a listen to that show.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The X-Files")

Ms. GILLIAN ANDERSON (Actress): (as Dana Scully): Now, ELF fields have been shown to produce biological effects in human tissue, inducing electrical currents, altering chemical reactions.

Mr. DAVID DUCHOVNY (Actor): (as Fox Mulder) Not to mention that as a potential weapons application, it's been referred to as electrical nerve gas or may be behind the so-called Taos hum.

BLOCK: So electrical nerve gas, Mr. Fail, there on "The X-Files." Does it seem that way to you?

Mr. FAIL: Ooh. Ooh. I'd tell you no.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FAIL: The way I look at this, Melissa, is that they've tried to find out where it's coming from, and as yet, nobody has found out. There's probably a silly, stupid explanation somewhere down the line - probably.

BLOCK: Well, Kevin Fail, thanks for talking to us about the mysterious hum there in Woodland, England, and please do let us know if you figured out what it is.

Mr. FAIL: We will do. I promise.

(Soundbite of song, "Hummin' To Myself")

Ms. LINDA RONSTADT (Singer): (Singing) But I got nobody to hear my song, so I'm humming to myself. Mm, humming to myself. Well, I'm humming to myself. I'm humming to myself.


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