Ipswich: How the Star reported on the aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987

The “Hurricane of Terror” – that was the headline given by The Star to severe gales which wreaked destruction in the region in 1987.

This week is the 25th anniversary of the horrifying events which began on the night of October 15.

Winds of up to 100mph paralysed the county in the worst hurricane-force winds to strike since March 1947, as The Star reported in a five-page special on October 16.

Police told us: “It’s a miracle no one has been killed or injured.”

Hours of torrential rain preceded the gales, which were caused by a strong depression.


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Stowmarket’s River Rat burst its banks and flooded approximately five acres of land.

Suffolk residents were left terrified by falling trees, power lines were cast down, plunging houses into darkness, and house roofs were blown off.

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The crisis led the fire service to announce that it would only respond to emergency calls and the police said they could only assist those injured.

Thousands of people were evacuated from Felixstowe Port when a tanker looked likely to explode, railway and bus services were cancelled and all state schools in the county were closed.

The roof of Ipswich Buses’ depot collapsed on to stationary double deckers and a 700-seat stand at Foxhall Stadium was decimated.

Fallen trees were to blame for many near-misses.

Co-op milkman Keith Joy escaped death twice.

Near Sutton Hall, two fir trees crashed down together just two feet away from Mr Joy and when he returned to his float after leaving to get aid, he discovered it crushed.

Mr Joy said: “I never missed a day during all that bad weather last winter (the winter of 1986-7) and I thought I could get through today. But what a lucky escape I had.”

Teenager Tracy Sharman had just left her bedroom at 4.30am when an 80ft tall tree in Chantry Park crashed through her window.

Her mother Margaret Sharman told us: “If Tracy had not come in my bedroom I don’t like to think what would have happened.

“She escaped death by no more than two minutes because she would have been under that tree.”

The next day, thousands of homes had no electricity and homeowners swamped the phone lines of insurance companies.

Joe Orr, Ipswich’s recreation and amentities chief, warned residents to stay away from parks, calling them “killer playgrounds”.

The Star noted that Christchurch Park “looked as if a bomb had hit it”.

Suffolk was not the only region affected. On October 16 we reported at least 12 people were thought to be dead across the south of England, including two firemen in Dorset who died when a tree collapsed on their vehicle and a woman in Windsor, Berks, crushed by a falling chimney.

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