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As the trees whipped crazily around us this morning, and the glass in the windows rattled angrily, my mind drifted back to the night of the 15-16th October 1987. Then I lived on a small Thames slipper launch called ‘Lily Jane’. I moored in the length between Islington Tunnel and the City Road Lock. I remember – as the light faded – the trees in the heavily wooded cutting begin to agitate and become more animated. The sustained howl of the wind raced from the tunnel mouth, eerily loud and rolled along the cutting towards the City. The canal, in minutes turned from millpond to angry tutting to white-topped wavelets, the foam dragged from the peaks and scattered by the wind. We boaters, sensing the worst, hurried about securing flapping tarpaulins and moving anything not tied down indoors. We checked and re-checked ropes, ropes that were straining and humming taut… It wasn’t a night for sleeping, we stayed up, wide-eyed at the ferocity of the wind, in the heart of the city nature reminded us that it still had, always has, the upper hand. (That’s me, sitting in the roof of ‘Lily Jane’ with City Road Lock behind me beneath the bridge.)

And next morning, this was the kind of devastation that we saw,as we walked around our city. Line after line of tress lay at crazy angles, the Ken Wood on the Heath was in tatters, it was a day to wonder at the power of the elements…


Great Storm October 1987-1368696

The Great Storm Of 1987


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