THE Breightmet thunderbolt might sound like the name of an old steam engine but in 1990 it became a terrifying reality for a group of residents on Glencoe Drive.

For 15 minutes their homes were battered by a freak storm with thunder and lightning directly overhead and winds being whipped up to gale force.

At the end of the ordeal three properties were left seriously damaged and six others damaged by flying roof tiles.

Bolton Central Fire Station Officer Steve Johnson said: “Three houses in particular were struck. Tiles were smashed in and one has had nearly half its roof blown off.

“Nearby car windscreens were smashed and there was some damage to a caravan parked on a drive nearby.

“Half a dozen people came out into the street. They were very concerned but nobody was injured or taken to hospital.”

After the storm passed residents were left trying to track down parts of their homes.

One man lost most of his conservatory and another his garden fence.

Fire fighter David Wilson who was on duty at the time was called out to his own badly-damaged home.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said.”I couldn’t believe it.”