NOVEMBER NOTES - The October 1987 Storm
In our very busy world it is easy to forget significant events that changed our lives, and our environment , for ever. Can you remember how Tatsfield looked this time 25 years ago? What happened that changed the shape of our countryside and, for some, our homes as well? On 16 October 1987 during the night we suffered the worst storm in living memory. It roared in from the Channel and swept up and through the North Downs ridge and nearby high ground. Trees that we thought would never fall down (oaks, planes, ash) were ripped from the ground in minutes. It didn’t seem to matter whether they were ancient or young, huge or small, some simply fell under the sheer force of the wind but others seemed to have been screwed out of the ground as the force of the wind turned them round and round until the trunk shattered, scattering bits over some distance, leaving shards of wood standing where the trunk had once been.
Tatsfield is full of stories, and no doubt plenty of pictures, of damaged roofs, roads blocked and woodlands just a dangerous tangle of fallen timber. I would be very interested to hear your personal stories. My personal memories are of being woken up by a strange and frightening roaring noise. I got up and went outside and was nearly injured by my neighbour’s fence panel flying past just inches from my head. This was also my first year of a new business venture, a horticultural advisory business. I can
remember as if it was yesterday my first job being part of a team of advisers carrying out safety surveys of London parks. I had never seen so many trees on the ground or in such dangerous condition that they had to be taken down.
Looking back now, it seems that we were in a hurry to replace them and many thousands of trees were planted over the next couple of years. It is only now with the benefit of hindsight that we realise the folly of clearing all those areas of wood, destroying all those seedlings and planting imported so-called ‘native species’. If you take a walk through our Millennium Wood (the wood between Old Lane and Ricketts Hill Road) you will see naturally regenerated beech trees now some 3 metres tall already, full of vigour, and with careful management future generations of Tatsfielders will once again walk under the canopies of mighty beech trees.
Now is a good time for you to consider planting a tree to commemorate this great event, or your birthday, or the birthday of a child. Remember the golden rule - a small tree for a small garden. Make sure to read my December notes when I will provide advice on what to buy and how to plant.
Jon Allbutt (Tel:577100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)