Storm 'devastation' from 1987 remembered

This Is Local London: Kelsey Park, Beckenham, courtesy of Bromley Local Studies and Archives Kelsey Park, Beckenham, courtesy of Bromley Local Studies and Archives

Monday will mark the 25th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987 which caused huge damage across the borough. Bromley residents have been sharing their memories with HELOISE WOOD.

IT WAS the biggest storm to hit Great Britain since 1703 and claimed the lives of 22 people across England and France.

Winds of up to 120mph battered large swathes of southern England with Bromley and north Kent in the eye of the storm.

Jim Bennett, 45, of Rectory Road, in Beckenham, was a 20-year-old trainee journalist at the time.

He said: "The morning after the storm my father drove me to work and there was devastation all around.

"There was a huge, old tree blocking the road completely so we had to turn around and go the other way.

"I also remember the devastation in Bromley Market Square, the scaffolding which had been put up before was blown everywhere by the storm.”

Mary Street, 74, of Main Street in Biggin Hill, said: "I remember waking up in the middle of the night, which is unusual because I’m a very heavy sleeper and I thought ‘Oh golly, that wind is strong!’ and I went back to sleep.

"Waking up the next morning, one of the window frames in the greenhouse had completely shattered, there was an apple tree lying on the ground in the garden with apples all around."

"When we looked down the Main Road, we saw lots of trees in the road and one lady on our street had a tree come down on her bungalow."

Mrs Street and her neighbours also went without electricity for a few days afterwards.

She said: "It did bring out a blitz spirit in the area, we all came out in the road and checked everyone was OK.

"We just managed the best we could. " 

Mottingham and Chislehurst North Councillor Charles Rideout said: “I  tried to travel up to Westminster by road that morning. It was a nightmare

“The number of trees that had fallen across the roads, in particular a road near mine, Mavelstone Road made it impassable.

“I have never seen such devastation but the local oak trees survived.”

Sixty-six-year-old Jackie Spears, of Edward Road, said:  “The first realisation of the severity of it was waking up to no electricity and a very large tree had blown down on main road crossing the road and lying on a bungalow on the other side.

“We walked along the Main Road and down to the airfield where some of the planes had been flipped over and were lying on their back with their wheels in the air.”

She added: “It looked like someone had played skittles with the trees.”

Kent historian Bob Ogley will be speaking in a lecture called The Great Storm And How It Changed My Life on October 16, starting at 7.45am, at Bromley Baptist Church, in Park Road. Call 07850779156 for more information.

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

3:30pm Sat 13 Oct 12

Polly Staight says...

Well I went to see Bob Dylan playing at the Wembley Arena, I remember coming out after the show and thinking (gosh) it's raining hard and very windy...

Went home to Beckenham, went to bed, and woke up to see all the trees down in Crease Park and up and down Village Way. In essence, I completely missed the "eye"...

There are two ironic details in this:

If I hadn't been to see Bob Dylan, I would have been working during the evening and early morning, I would have seen the "hurricane" and I would have witnessed a scaffolding pole come straight through my office window (it was around the other side, so I wouldn't have been hit).

The other ironic thing, I have just looked up the details of the concert, and Bobby played "Shelter From The Storm".
Well I went to see Bob Dylan playing at the Wembley Arena, I remember coming out after the show and thinking (gosh) it's raining hard and very windy... Went home to Beckenham, went to bed, and woke up to see all the trees down in Crease Park and up and down Village Way. In essence, I completely missed the "eye"... There are two ironic details in this: If I hadn't been to see Bob Dylan, I would have been working during the evening and early morning, I would have seen the "hurricane" and I would have witnessed a scaffolding pole come straight through my office window (it was around the other side, so I wouldn't have been hit). The other ironic thing, I have just looked up the details of the concert, and Bobby played "Shelter From The Storm". Polly Staight
  • Score: 0

6:37pm Sat 13 Oct 12

mouthalmighty says...

I remember well. That night I had just flown in from Germany on a business trip. It was a bit rocky and I felt sick. It was also the first time I had ever flown. What rotten luck. The next morning, I had a job interview in the city for a different firm. It was a very eerie day. The A2 from Gravesend was very quiet with lots of debris. We went through the Blackwall tunnel and picked up some people at a bus stop. I did make it to my interview, but the boss wasn't in and someone else
Saw me. I think he thought I was mad to turn up. I didn't get the job. The day got stranger and stranger and I will never forget that day.
I remember well. That night I had just flown in from Germany on a business trip. It was a bit rocky and I felt sick. It was also the first time I had ever flown. What rotten luck. The next morning, I had a job interview in the city for a different firm. It was a very eerie day. The A2 from Gravesend was very quiet with lots of debris. We went through the Blackwall tunnel and picked up some people at a bus stop. I did make it to my interview, but the boss wasn't in and someone else Saw me. I think he thought I was mad to turn up. I didn't get the job. The day got stranger and stranger and I will never forget that day. mouthalmighty
  • Score: 0

7:49pm Sun 14 Oct 12

Witchkid says...

I had not long moved into my house and planted a dwarf apple tree in the garden. My neighbours probably thought I was a looney when they saw me out in the storm, fending off flying fence panels to protect my little tree!
I had not long moved into my house and planted a dwarf apple tree in the garden. My neighbours probably thought I was a looney when they saw me out in the storm, fending off flying fence panels to protect my little tree! Witchkid
  • Score: 0

9:11pm Sun 14 Oct 12

plasticfantastic says...

I slept through it. When I got up for work, my next door neighbours house had a tree embedded in the roof. He was completing the sale of his house on that day, most unfortunate.
I slept through it. When I got up for work, my next door neighbours house had a tree embedded in the roof. He was completing the sale of his house on that day, most unfortunate. plasticfantastic
  • Score: 0

4:19am Mon 15 Oct 12

mouthalmighty says...

Aaah! Witchkid and plasticfantastic, I would love to hear the end results of your stories. Is the tree still thriving? Did your neighbours sell their house?
Aaah! Witchkid and plasticfantastic, I would love to hear the end results of your stories. Is the tree still thriving? Did your neighbours sell their house? mouthalmighty
  • Score: 0

8:45am Mon 15 Oct 12

plasticfantastic says...

I really can't remember. Although I remember that the neighbour was out in the street (it was an unmade road in Coney Hall) and he was cooridinating getting the fallen trees moved. He didn't seem overly concerned for some reason. Maybe it had already been signed over to the new owners. It was an interesting drive to work though.

If anyone remembers though, in the January of 1987 we had terrible snow. I went to Tenerife on a lads holiday and it took 3 hours to get to Gatwick. I remember sitting round the pool at the hotel reading The Sun and The Sun headline was -20 in London. An interesting year, 1987.
I really can't remember. Although I remember that the neighbour was out in the street (it was an unmade road in Coney Hall) and he was cooridinating getting the fallen trees moved. He didn't seem overly concerned for some reason. Maybe it had already been signed over to the new owners. It was an interesting drive to work though. If anyone remembers though, in the January of 1987 we had terrible snow. I went to Tenerife on a lads holiday and it took 3 hours to get to Gatwick. I remember sitting round the pool at the hotel reading The Sun and The Sun headline was -20 in London. An interesting year, 1987. plasticfantastic
  • Score: 0

11:11am Mon 15 Oct 12

smurf4568 says...

I was living in Bromley and working in Westminster at the time in the Hospital. It was impossible to get to Westminster by rail and road would have been risky as well with so many trees down, so I walked to the local hospital at the end of my road and offered to work there doing the same job I did in London. They were delighted as a lot of their staff were stranded and impressed by my lateral thinking. When another job came up at Orpington hospital they rang and asked me to apply for it!

My other memory was of the copper draught excluder around the front door sounding like a trumpet being blown as the wind howled through the gap between the door and the frame. I didn't get a lot of sleep that night.
I was living in Bromley and working in Westminster at the time in the Hospital. It was impossible to get to Westminster by rail and road would have been risky as well with so many trees down, so I walked to the local hospital at the end of my road and offered to work there doing the same job I did in London. They were delighted as a lot of their staff were stranded and impressed by my lateral thinking. When another job came up at Orpington hospital they rang and asked me to apply for it! My other memory was of the copper draught excluder around the front door sounding like a trumpet being blown as the wind howled through the gap between the door and the frame. I didn't get a lot of sleep that night. smurf4568
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree