The great storm in south-east England in 1987

Thirty years ago today, a great storm unexpectedly hit the south-east of England (coincidentally a similar storm is hitting Ireland today and Scotland tomorrow). I’ve kept a daily diary since I was 13 (I’m now 69) and I’ve looked up what I wrote for Friday, 16 October 1987:

“I was awakened about 4.30 am by the telephone ringing but, since I could not see without lenses and could not get any light to work, it stopped before I could reach my study wall. I could hear wind but the new double glazing cut out most of the noise and nothing special had been forecast by the weathermen.

However, when we woke up, we found that there was still a power failure – electricity was restored about 8 am – and the garden was littered with branches snapped off the trees in the spinney, one of them so large it had smashed a gap in the Harringtons’ new fence.

Two more pieces of felt from the dorma roof and all the guttering over the upper landing window had been pulled off. It turned out the the telephone call had been from Mari, frightened at being without Derek and losing some ridge tiles and a lot of fencing in the wind.

During the day, we learned the full measure of the freak storm. The London Weather Centre recorded a wind of 94 mph at 4 am and the storm was classed as the worst since 1703. At least 17 people have been killed and a third of the trees in Kew Gardens have been destroyed or damaged.”


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