The Great Storm Of 1987

From Historical Hastings

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Night we won't forget

The Hastings Story as told by Janette Gould

The worst storm in 250 years hit Hastings in the early hours of Friday October 16, 1987, claiming two lives and causing millions of pounds worth of damage.

Hurricane force winds of up to 103 mph forced churches, schools and homes to bow to the will of nature.

Woodlands dating back hundreds of years were felled in a matter of hours and buildings ripped apart without fear or favour.

As the sun rose and the winds died down, Hastings started the long and tortuous task of repairing the devastation.

Tragedy number one happened at the Queens Hotel where the gusting winds toppled a four-ton chimney, sending it crashing through four storeys and causing up to £200,000 worth of damage.

Two guests had miraculous escapes as the massive chimney wiped out their rooms 230 and 330 before it collapsed in a pile of rubble on the ground floor.

But a third holidaymakers, 67-year-old Ronald Davies of Warwickshire, was crushed beneath a mountain of bricks and mortar as he lay in bed.

Tragedy number two was the death of Hastings "boy ashore" Jimmy Read, when he was hit by the roof of a winch hut as he helped drag up the fisherman's boats at the height of the storm.

Mr. Read, 49, of Linley Drive, died instantly, but lay undiscovered until passerby Michael Sandover came across him hours later.

He was given a traditional fisherman's funeral, when hundreds of mourners turned out for a service at All Saints Church, Hastings.

Then a solemn procession of mourners, headed by the Mayor, Cllr Mrs Sandie Barr, and Rector of Old Town, the Rev. David Grant, followed the hearse as it wound its way down All Saints Street.