North Kent remembers the Great Storm of 1987
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987 which did great damage across North Kent. The people of the region have been sharing their memories with GEORGE SARGENT.
THE GREAT storm of October 15, 1987, hit North Kent with 120mph winds. It uprooted trees, blew down power lines and heavily damaged houses.
Great Britain had not seen a storm of that force since 1703 and the lives of 22 people across England and France were lost. North Kent was in the eye of the storm.
Gravesend historian, Christoph Bull, 55, was living in Northfleet at the time. He described the scene as “total carnage”.
He said: “The wind was screaming and howling outside. I have never experienced anything like it.
“I was mad enough to try and go outside to move the car. But as soon as I opened the front door the wind wooshed in the house and the roof hatch blew up into the attic.
“It’s a wonder it didn’t go through the roof!
“The next morning power cables were down and there were slates, rubbish and trees strewn across the road.
“But the town was very very quiet. It was eerie because it felt as if it had been evacuated prior to an occupation by a foreign army.”
Tracy Dray, 44, of Dorchester Close, Dartford, was living at her parents in Erith at the time.
She said: “I was lying in bed. It was scary because it was pitch black and the windows were shaking. I felt like they were going to come in.
“You could really feel the force of the gales.
“There was debris and bits of trees and rubbish across the road. It was just everywhere.”
School secretary Carol Hammond, 48, of New Barn Road, Longfield, was living in Sidcup at the time.
She said: “I was driving to work the next day and the trees were down like dominoes. It was complete devastation.”
“There were hundred-year-old trees on the ground and it was really upsetting.
She was working as a district maintenance officer at Beck and Pollitzer’s machinery installation offices in Belvedere.
She spent the day wrapping children and elderly people in the area in blankets because power cables had blown down.
Picture framer David Randall, 47 of Derwent Close, Dartford, was woken up by the storm in the night.
He said: “I could hear the wind howling. We lost slates off our roof.
“The next morning I went out to take my dog for a walk and as I walked past the Orange Tree Pub I saw the poplar tree wood there. Every single one of the trees was just ripped in half.
“I just hope it doesn’t happen again.”