Villagers in Hampshire, near the world-famous Watership Down hill, fear they have become the latest victims of a ‘black hole’ mystery which has hit other parts of Britain.
One family, the Smiths, were baffled when their heating, shower, doorbell and even their cars’ remote door locks refused to work and they discovered similar problems were being experienced by their neighbours in Kingsclere.
They spent much of the festive season without heating and lights after the failure of household systems that rely on digital technology, specifically radio-frequency identification (RFID).
Chris Smith, whose wife’s birthday on Christmas Eve was ruined by the systems failure, spent more than £250 trying to fix the heating and shower but neither worked until late on December 27, according to the Newbury Weekly News.
He has speculated that secret experiments at the nearby Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston military base – which builds and maintains the warheads for the country’s nuclear Trident missiles – are responsible.
But a spokesman for Ofcom, which oversees radio communications, had a more mundane explanation.
He said: ‘Often these problems can be caused by a video sender – that transmits a television signal to other sets in the house. They are not the source of all the problems but in a lot of cases interference is tracked down to those devices.’
But Mr Smith, who had the heating system installed 18 months ago, said he did not know of anyone nearby with a video sender. However he did think it was odd that his heating, shower and doorbell began working again late on December 27, at the end of the Christmas break.
In October the residents of Dimond Road, Southampton, reported that their remote car key fobs had stopped working. The problem was tracked down to a faulty video sender which was ‘leaking’ a frequency that interfered with the fobs.