Jump to content
tsavo

The Great Sheffield Gale, 1962

Recommended Posts

Do you remember that night? Three deaths, and 100,000 homes damaged in a single night.

The winds started during the day of the 16th February and during the following night, winds estimated at over 100 miles an hour lashed the city.

My Story

I was working late that night and made my way through a deserted city centre, down Fargate towards High Street, to catch the 1.30 bus to Crookes. Walking normally was all but impossible, the wind blasted you from all directions, causing you to stagger against it. Heading towards Change Alley (roughly where Arundel Gate starts now) past Walsh's department store, I heard a voice call out. Seated in the broken display window, surrounded by very expensive fur coats was a policeman. We sat there for 10 minutes or so watching the tower crane at the top of Angel Street, swaying with each new blast of wind. As 1.30 approached I crab walked towards the bus stop and was relieved to see the bus turn out of Fitzallen Square.

As I got on the bus and headed for the stairs, the conductor said, "have your smoke down here,lad, too dangerous upstairs"

The journey to Crookes Terminus which usually took 20 mins, took nearly 45. Several time being struck by flying debris, we did the entire journey at 5 miles an hour. Getting off the bus at the bottom of Northfield Rd was a nightmare. The wind blew me over as soon a I left the bus. I passed the bus on my backside and ended up in the railings at the bottom of the hill. The bus driver stopped to see if I was ok. I waved I was and crawled the remaining 300 yards home. At 7.0am a phone call summoned me back to work to help clear up the damage to the building. All in all, a night to remember.

This is the weather report for that night:

A severe westerly gale damaged Sheffield on the 16-17th; two-thirds of the houses in the city were reported as suffering some damage, and three people were killed. 98 houses had to be demolished. Gusts of over 80 kn were claimed, with a maximum gust of 96 mph reported. This is an example of a "lee wave" wind, where wind is increased by hills (here the Pennines): a strong westerly air flow is deflected upwards by the hills until it reaches a warm layer where it can ascend no further; it is then reflected downwards. The air becomes stratified because turbulence is suppressed, and standing waves form. The wind at Sheffield averages more than 70 mph between 6 and 7 am;

I'm sure I not the only one who experienced that stormy night. Tell us your story!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OH YES I REMEMBER THESE NIGHTS. GLAD WE HAD AN INSIDE TOILET. WINDOWS RATTLING,WIND BOUNCING OFF ROOF AND THE HOWLING AS WIND BLEW THREW THE PASSAGE BETWEEN HOUSES. DIDN'T NEED LAXATIVES. BUT ANOTHER REASON FOR REMEMBERING THE GALE WHICH, I DON'T NO WHETHER TO LAUGH OR ROOER, WAS IT WAS MY WIFES FIRST DAY AT OUR WORKS AND WHEN I MET MY FRIENDS AS USUAL, SHE WAS WITH THEM.ONLY SECOND TIME I'D SEEN HER.WE WAS WALKING ON TRIPPET LANE NEAR THE CHRISTIAN SHOP WHEN WE HEARD A RUMBLE. MI MATE AND ME PUSHED THE GIRLS ON JUST BEFORE PART OF ROOF CAME DOWN. IF ONLY I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW!!!WHOOPS WIFES COMING."ER I'D DO SAME AGAIN LOVE"!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if she reads that you'll get more than your chocolates stopped! :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember walking to school with my Mum on what I assume was the 17th both of us pretty much unaware of the severity of the gales the night before as we lived in a cottage with a stone slab roof, 18 inch thick walls and of course no wall to wall media!

As we passed along Petre Street we began to see more and more slates literally flying and H shaped TV ariels bending almost double - but pressed on to school past my Aunty and Uncles where a piece of slate had lodged in the front door at face height (fortunately during the night so no chance of injury).

Don't remember being sent home early from school though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to Sheffield History, K&A, it was one heck of a storm. I suppose being small made it seem even worse!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I clearly remember doing a geography project all about this when I was in the first year at secondary school - would have been 1979.

Except that it was always referred to as 'The Sheffield Hurricane', conjuring up amazing images in my 11-year old mind that may not have been entirely accurate!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it wasn't a hurricane, it's the closest I ever want to :rolleyes: get to one!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to live in Andover Street flats and can remember feeling them sway.We lived on the 4th floor so heaven knows what it was like on the 14th.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not know the reason why but my Mom sent us to school that day then a couple of hours later my Nan came and took us back out again and to her place. I remember walking up Bellhouse Road with her and seeing one of those sheet asbestos garages just collapse. It scared the you know what out of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Sheffield Star did a special supplement about the storm I think, with loads of photos. I may have a copy somewhere. They did one about the great freeze that happened one winter as well.

Paul Norton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look forward to reading it, Paul.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found a February 1962 Sheffield Star and a special gale supplement at home. They are a bit creased and browned and you may not be able to read all the text due to my lack of large photo taking facilities, but you get the idea of the amount of destruction it caused around here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's the Star front page.

You're right NHP is was called a Hurricane.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff!!!!! I remember the prefab houses on Hucklow road sustaining a lot of damage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just bringing this to the top for GrinderBloke. It was quite a night!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The morning after the gale was still very windy at the time I lived off Addy street and had to walk down onto infirmary Road to catch the bus to school. This meant I had to go down Portland Street which had just started to strip the houses prior to being demolished. I had to walk down the middle of the road to avoid the slates flying off the roofs. after I made it safely to school I found that in all the age groups there was only enough for one class. out of 1500 kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't remember the storm but I remember the aftermath. I was 9 at the time and we lived on Fairbank Road (off Herries Road just above the hospital entrance).

What seemed like an enormous tree fell across the bottom of Fairbank Rd, blocking the exit to Herries Rd. I can remember walking through Roe Woods with my father seeing tree after tree felled. They always had an enormous bonfire in the woods each year and I remember that year for its size. Most years were always larger than anything I've seen since.

Here's a picture of the area in the 1950s. Fairbank Rd is opposite the large brick bus shelter which looking at google earth recently, seems to have been removed. Note the one car and the one at the bottom of Fairbank Rd fighting the congestion to get out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I'm a noob...

I was 8 years old. I recall being got out of bed to be taken downstairs to sleep under the kitchen table for safety - our chimney was collapsing. Also remember being sent out on an errand and being warned to walk in close to the edge of the houses as, if a slate came flying off, "it will chop your head off" (!) Staniforth Road was deserted and the globes off the belisha beacons were bowling down the middle of the road like supercharged tumbleweed. Slates were scattered everywhere you looked. Whatever possessed a mother to send young kids out alone in that?

With connections to a builder, we were fortunate to get a tarp over our missing slates asap. Many, many families were not so lucky.

The wind storm left me with a great fear of high winds all my life. You might wonder whatever possessed me to come and live in Orkney. I lie awake at night a lot :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Plumbum, please resurrect as many old threads as you can find, it all adds to what is a written history of the City. After my experience's on that night I felt that I'd had the worst and whatever came later would be an anticlimax. Nice to hear from Orkney, you maybe our most northern UK member....unless someone knows better?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Plumbum, please resurrect as many old threads as you can find, it all adds to what is a written history of the City. After my experience's on that night I felt that I'd had the worst and whatever came later would be an anticlimax. Nice to hear from Orkney, you maybe our most northern UK member....unless someone knows better?

Thanks for the welcome.

In my experience, you'll find a Sheffielder wherever you go, so there are almost certainly ex-pats in Shetland. Mind you, only 0.04% of the UK popn are further north than I am, so the odds of finding them here may be low...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I'm a noob...

Yup, we like old threads coming "back up top" shows newer members are reading the Posts and its reminds us that have been here since "***** was a kitten" exactly what the heck we have been wobbling on about over the last year.

Some, just some of the best topics ever are hidden away somewhere, we've just forgotten where we posted 'em !

I'm on 2,800+ posts and I can just about find my way around the Pubs link !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, we like old threads coming "back up top" shows newer members are reading the Posts

I've got to admit that I joined SheffieldHistory in 2007 just to look at the pictures in this thread as the events of February 1962 still have strong memories for me. Unfortunately it then took me over a year until I started posting stuff on the site and not in this thread so I too am very glad it has come "back to the top".

In 1962, aged 7, I was living in prefabricated housing on the Arbourthorne estate at the bottom of Algar Place, a cul-de-sac which terminated in a small roundabout. This was the lowest point of the street, it was an uphill walk to Algar Road and then on to Easterm Avenue. as a result the prefabs at the top of the street were completely destroyed and as you came down the hill the damage got less by the house and ours (ironically number 13) was the first one to get away with no damage at all. I could write a book on the events of that gale and the "aftermath" which lasted until the prefabs were finally demolished and we moved out in 1965-6.

Without giving full details (yet!) the main events in my memory are

Being woken up in the early hours by my mum, while dad tried desperately to brace the house against the wind by moving furniture

Looking out into the blackness from the living room window, wondering what all the noise was about outside

As day dawned, wondering where half the houses had gone, and why the street was littered with furniture belongings and bits of house

Being told I wouldn't be going to school (Arbourthorne North Infants)

Police moving down the street to evacuate people

BBC and ITV news teams turning up to film (there is a picture of this in the book "Sheffield in the Sixties"), camera on Northern Avenue looking down towards Algar Place

Being evacuated to my auties at the top of Northern Avenue near Hurlfield school which was also being used for evacuees

Watching "Scene at 6:30 (local news programme) with Mike Scott and Bill Grundy talking to people on our street

Spending the night with my auntie

Returning the next day to a desolate scene around our house

Following this I have strong memories of

Playing in the remains of old, wrecked houses (summer 1962)

Building "dens" and fitting them out with abandoned furniture

Scavenging for stuff for the rag and bone man (old cystern ballcocks, made of copper were a favourite)

Having workmen fit girders and cables to our house, and others which had survived to stabilise them against a further storm

Having workmen systematically demolish the damaged properties we were now playing in. This involved dismantling them, piling them up in what used to be the back garden and burning them. Being made of asbestos sheets with dried straw insulation, wooden timber and pitch tar flat roofs they burnt well, the asbestos turned to dust while us kids were playing near it, no one knew or bothered about asbestosis then so God knows what long term effect this will have had on my health!

Bulldozers moving in to remove the brick foundations (winter 1962 / 3) and removing every last trace that these buildings had even existed

An extremely cold winter, one of the worst of the 20th century

Living on an estate with half the houses missing (1963 /4)

Introduction of clean air act to the area, meaning the coal man had to sell us coke, so the next winter felt just as cold

People moving out of the area and houses being left abandoned again (1965)

Moving out of the prefabs on a very run down estate ourselves (November1965)

playing in the abandoned houses and making "dens" again, this time the houses wern't actually damaged so it was more fun, but scavenging was more prevelant so police patrols in the area increased.

The demolition of the remaining prefabs (1966)

The building of the new houses (Vic Hallams) and the building of the entire Norfolk Park estate.

So to me this one single event had repercussions which lasted about 5 years and had a very strong influence on my young life

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got to admit that I joined SheffieldHistory in 2007 just to look at the pictures in this thread as the events of February 1962 still have strong memories for me. Unfortunately it then took me over a year until I started posting stuff on the site and not in this thread so I too am very glad it has come "back to the top".

Just found this old photo, along with the one I have posted of myself in 1962 in the members old photos thread which shows the prefabricated housing on the Arbourthorne which was badly damaged or destroyed by this gale. This house is what was number 11 Algar Place, the house above ours. It had suffered only minor damage in the storm but the houses up the hill to the right suffered progressively more damage to the point of complete destruction. Fortunately our house was lower down from where the picture was taken but even that wasn't totally unscathed and had a narrow escape from a flying roof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I was only young at the time, I remember a lady getting killed as she lay in bed.

This was on Ellison Street where a chimney pot was blown off and went straight through the roof

killing the lady. there were chimney pots and roof slates all over the place. :o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I was only young at the time, I remember a lady getting killed as she lay in bed....

Could this be in the lead story on the copy of the Star in post #13 above?

It's too small to read and there was more than one fatality that night but the headline describes this incident well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×