Storm of 11 Nov 1881

From Historical Hastings

The storm of 11th of November 1881 caused a huge amount of property damage as well as forcing vessels ashore all along the south coast. Two vessels, the Nerissa and the T. C. Pfluger were wrecked hours apart from each other and required strenuous efforts to be made to rescue the crew.

The Hastings & St Leonards Observer reported on the storm, which is quoted directly below:[1]

In the town many telephone wires parted, and the telegraph wires were so damaged by the gale that for about two hours the town was, with the exception of communication with Bexhill, completely isolated, as far as telegraphic communication went, from the rest of the world. At St. Leonards the large plate glass window in the shop of Mr. Tate, bookseller and stationer, of Eversfield-place, was literally blown to atoms early in the forenoon, and M. Compagnoni, the confectioner, also of Eversfield-place, similarly suffered. In this instance, tbe large glass was completely removed during one terrific gust.

Several narrow vehicular escapes were witnessed, and the Globe Parcels Express van was completely overturned at the corner of Claremont, the driver being thrown across the road. Beyond a severe shaking, however, he was uninjured. At Marina the covers of the balconies were blown to pieces in one or two instances, the large sheets of lead and zinc being tossed about as if composed of cardboard, and innumerable tiles and slates, together with a number of chimneys, were dislodged.

The upper part of Clive Vale being in a rather exposed position, the bouse property felt the force of the gale to a great extent. Slates and tiles were scattered all directions, and a very large number of windows were blown in, the glasswork of greenhouses and conservatories being also smashed. In Edmund-road a chimney stack belonging to Blenheim House School for Young Ladies and Kindergarten was blown down level with the roof; but the most serious damage was done to No. 23, Edgar-road, occupied by Mr. Ellis and family.

About mid-day on Wednesday, when the storm was at its height, Mrs. Ellis was alarmed by a loud roaring kind of noise, which sounded plainly above the howling of the wind, and shook the house all over. She ran upstairs, thinking that a ceiling which had been for some time in rather doubtful condition had fallen down. This, however, she found was not the case, and she subsequently discovered that it was the outer layer of bricks of the side wall (tbe house being an end one) which bad been blown down, pulling with it a portion of the roof. The explanation of the reason of the whole of the outer bricks being blown away, leaving the inner ones undisturbed, is this: The wall was a hollow one, with space between the outer and inner layer of bricks, tbe object being to make the house perfectly watertight. The wind must have by some means effected an entrance into the hollow space, and the result was that they were bulged outwards by the force of the wind, causing the outer portion of the wall to collapse. Some of the outside bricks from the front of the house were also blown down, leaving a space between the woodwork of the bay windows and the wall, which enabled the wind to obtain hold the framework and loosen it considerably. Fortunately, some builders with a gang of men were in the vicinity and took immediate steps to shore the house up. Mrs. Ellis and family were warned to escape for their lives, as the end portion of the house was in a most precarious state, and in great danger of collapsing. Had it done so it was thought that it would have carried away part of the next house with it. Mr. Ellis's children were at school and were expected home about the time the accident happened. , Fortunately, they were safely out of the way, or the result of the catastrophe would probably have been much more serious nature.

A woman, living in adjacent premises, had a narrow escape, she having been at the bottom of her garden, which reaches to the side of the house which was blown down, only a minute or two before the accident happened. Had she been there the time she must almost inevitably have been killed by the falling bricks and mortar. By the kindness of Mr. Garner, builder, Mr. Ellis has been allowed to occupy a house a few doors below.

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