Looking Back — the Great storm of 1987

By Jamie White

Friday, October 12, 2012

 

Looking Back — the Great storm of 1987

Shanklin Pier with a hole at its centre. Picture by Chris Thwaites.

LOOKING BACK SPECIAL MILLIONS of pounds worth of damage was caused to homes and businesses as gales of 100mph ripped through the Island 25 years ago this week.

The devastating hurricane tore through buildings, with Shanklin Pier reduced to a wreck in the sea.

The 1,200ft-long Victorian Pier was blown away as the theatre was collapsed by the force of the winds.

Along the beach, the roaring wind hurled tons of debris from the shattered pier and more drifted out across the bay.

More than 300 trees came crashing down, blocking more than 100 roads across the Island.

Ventnor Botanic Garden also felt the full force, with many rare specimens felled or torn out of the ground. A total of 13 people had to be taken to hospital with minor injuries and shock.

One ambulance responding to an incident in Bembridge became trapped when trees fell in front and behind it. Shipping and small boats on moorings also took a bad hammering.

Great storm of 1987

The damaged roof at the British Red Cross Society IW branch headquarters.

A cargo vessel three miles off St Catherine’s was battling in Force 15 winds — some of the highest ever recorded in this country — when an 40ft wave crashed into it, smashing away much of the wheelhouse.

More than 20 schools were closed as a result of storm damage, which included smashed windows, roof damage and loss of electricity.

Minutes after power was restored to parts of Wootton, there was an explosion, followed by a fire, on board a houseboat in the creek.

The entire roof of a hotel in Blackgang was torn off as the terrified owners watched in horror. Parkhurst prison lost a huge glass dome over a sports complex.

The telephone exchange at Cosham handled 999 calls at an unprecedented rate of one every two seconds at 6.30am on Friday — so many that off-duty switchboard staff had to be brought in.

MP Barry Field made approaches at ministerial level to get government aid to the Island.

Hurricanes of 1987

Trees down in Victoria Avenue, Shanklin. Picture by Chris Thwaites.

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