1897 the worst weather in memory

1897 was a year that was to live in the memories of people Eastern Essex for a long time

It started badly with a cold spell at the end of 1896 that continued through January bring such bitterly cold weather that the River Crouch froze over preventing boats from using the river.

Worse was to come in Summer on Midsummer's day which fell on 24 June 1897.

The day started off with blue skies and temperatures that were oppressively hot in the high 80's .

After lunch they cloud took a strange hue and then a terrible storm hit without warning.

George F Bosworth wrote an account of the storm in his 1898 book. Essex - Past and Present.

The wind blew with the force of a hurricane, that was so mighty that it tore up by the roots, or snapped off, hundreds upon hundreds of the finest trees in Essex, including oaks, elms, poplars and willows.

The quantity of hail that fell and the size of the hailstones were quite extraordinary.

The hailstones actually penetrates slates and tiles and were shot through windows with blinds behind them.

Some of the hailstones were 5 and 6 inches in circumference, and weighed 2 or even 3 ounces.

People who were out in the storm were beaten black and blue by the pelting of the hailstones; and large numbers of poultry were killed outright,as if they had been shot.

Great darkness prevailed at the time and loud thunder and vivid lightning were continuous.

People in the fields shrieked aloud in agony and many gave themselves up for lost, and believed that the end of the world had come.

Of course at this season of the year, the crops suffered terribly. Smiling fields of corn, wheat, barley and outs were in many cases, swept completely off the farms, whilst peas, beans and cabbages were reduced to pulp.

Whole crops of apples,pears, strawberries,gooseberries and other fruits were utterly destroyed.

When all the damage was taken into account its was calculated that nearly a quarter of a million would be required to cover the loss.

What a catastrophic storm at a time which must have resulted in bankruptcies and hardship throughout the county.

A quarter of a million pounds then would be worth about 20 million nowadays.

As if the people of Eastern Essex had not suffered enough on 29 November the area experienced a gale from the north which combined with a surge tide to bring the sea into coastal regions of Essex. The sea walls were broken down in may places in both the Crouch and Blackwater flooding much as the land near to the sea wall breaches at Bradwell on Sea.

At Burnham on Crouch the tide overwhelmed the defences and by mid afternoon the whole High Street was under water.

Fortunately the easy access to small boats meant that people were rescued from the High Street and Quayside although there was the unusual site of boats rowing along the High Street near to the newly erected Clock Tower.

All of the houses on the Quay and High Street suffered extensive water damage.

A relief fund started at the Guildhall, London raised 500 to help the flood victims repair their homes.

What a year for the people of Eastern Essex!

 

All of the houses near the river were ruined

 

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