NOSTALGIA: Remembering the Great Storm in Eastbourne 30 years ago this weekend

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003549067
Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003549067

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm when on Friday October 16 1987, winds of more than 100 miles an hour battered the south east and left a trail of destruction.

It was the worst storm in living memory when families awoke to the sound of rattling windows and doors, smashing glass, crashing roof slates, falling trees and howling winds, the like of which they had never heard before.

Great Storm, Eastbourne

Great Storm, Eastbourne

To mark the event, Beckett Newspapers, as it was then, the owners of the Eastbourne Gazette and Herald, published a 38 page book called Hurricane Eastbourne, which featured 70 photographs capturing the drama of the worst storm to hit the Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford areas for 300 years.

The damage was horrendous.

Editor at the time Hugh Rowlings said Hampden Park looked as though a bomb had hit it with mature trees scattered all over the grass.

The Avenue lost its statuesque parade of trees to the wind and in Southdown Road by Willingdon golf course, 17 elms crashed into gardens.

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Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548860

Twenty Scotch pines came down in Willingdon Road.

A white Mercedes parked in Compton Street was flattened and in Longland Road a Mini was hit.

Two cars and a van were crushed in Dillingburgh Road and a Porsche was damaged in the Avenue.

In Southfields Road a wall collapsed burying a row of cars and Kings Drive was virtually a no go area because of the high number of trees blocking access routes to homes.

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Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548849

In Alfriston a 150-year-old elm planted to commemorate Queen Victoria’s coronation had to be felled and the tree roots also cut through the water supply to the church caretaker’s house.

A 100-year-old tree at the back of the High Street in Westham, famous as a nesting place for herons, was also lost during the gale.

Trees collapsed along Ersham Road in Hailsham bringing down electricity cables and wires.

Hailsham Library was closed after a tree crashed through its roof and in Polegate two trees were brought down in Brightling Road and two gas leaks were reported after uprooted trees disturbed pipelines.

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Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548856

Roads between the former Amberstone Hospital and Cowbeech were blocked by fallen trees, which were also brought down power lines.

In Seaford’s Cradle Hill cemetery the damage took on macabre-like proportions when tree roots, wrenched out of the earth by the strong winds, loosened grave stones.

Hundreds of families in Eastbourne and the surrounding districts were left without electricity and emergency crews were hampered in their attempts to restore power by the fallen trees blocking routes.

All over the area gas leaks were reported by householders whose mains had been damaged vy trees uprooted during the night.

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548842

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548842

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548850

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003548850

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003549068

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003549068

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003549085

Great Storm, Eastbourne MAYOAK0003549085