The Great Storm: 30 years on

This former shooting lodge at Tyrrels Wood was blown upside-down by the Great Storm. It was later dismantled by volunteers. (Photo: WTML / Keith Huggett)
This former shooting lodge at Tyrrels Wood was blown upside-down by the Great Storm. It was later dismantled by volunteers. (Photo: WTML / Keith Huggett)

This week marks 30 years since the great storm, which took place on the night of 15-16 October 1987. The devastation it wreaked across the UK was unprecedented, especially in the South East. It caused damage to thousands of homes and killed 18 people. In addition, 15 million trees were blown down.

The Woodland Trust and the Great Storm

Fifty of our woods were affected by the storm, following which we launched an appeal to raise £500,000 to repair the damage and re-plant trees. Some of the worst casualties included:

  • Ashenbank Wood, Kent. The 79 acre wood was devastated. Also a site of special scientific interest, large areas of oak, sweet chestnut, hornbeam and cherry trees were blown down and paths were blocked. Some horizontal-lying trees remain from the storm.
  • We had just purchased Joydens Wood, Kent and had planned a celebration event on 16 October 1987, but it had to be cancelled as damage meant staff couldn’t physically get into the site.
  • Tyrrels Wood, near Pulham Market, Norfolk, lost between 100 and 150 trees. This included some of the magnificent oaks we had spent £10,000 to save from felling, but fortunately the two most valuable trees escaped unscathed. Some remnants of the storm still remain.
  • Three acres of woodland were flattened at the eight acre Dick Buck’s Burrows, Cromer, Norfolk. Around 100 trees were believed to have blown down, including native oak, sweet chestnut and beech. Some remnants of the storm still remain.
One of the many trees uprooted at Ashenbank Wood, Kent in the Great Storm (Photo: WTML)
One of the many trees uprooted at Ashenbank Wood, Kent in the Great Storm (Photo: WTML)

Keeping our woods open

All of our woods are open and free for people to enter, so checking them regularly and making sure they’re safe is one of our top priorities. Between 2012 and 2016, we spent nearly £500,000 on more than 1,100 emergency tree safety jobs to ensure they stay open and accessible. Most of these were a result of storm damage.

Help us protect and restore woodland for current and future generations.

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