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Sheffield hurricane vividly recalled by Bugle reader

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 16, 2014

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REGULAR Bugle reader Patrick Shaw who after many years a resident of Quarry Bank now lives at Burford in the Teme Valley, had his memory well and truly shaken up when he read Gordon Hensman's Weatherview on January 23, 2014.

He told us, "I was flabbergasted when I read the column headed 'Past Januaries' all about gales and in particular the Sheffield gales of 1962. The comment that spurred me on to write my memories from 52 years ago simply said, 'Most people have forgotten all about the event, but it must have been an alarming experience for those affected'.

"It certainly was for me. I was born in Yorkshire and was working in Sheffield at the time, and Gordon's weather report has brought all the bad memories flooding back".

Before we continue with Patrick's vivid recollections, let us remind ourselves of what Gordon wrote just a few weeks ago.

"The Sheffield gales of 1962 occurred because the city is located on the eastern flanks of the Pennines to the west. A gale became trapped beneath a temperature inversion where warmer air lay above cooler air beneath. This effectively caused a wave form to develop, and where the bottom of the wave touched the ground, the wind was accelerated to over 80mph.

"The result was a disaster whereby over two thirds of the houses suffered some damage. A state of emergency was declared, and teams of builders came from all over the country to repair the damage."

Patrick was in the thick of it as he explains. "I was working the night shift in a power house, one of two English Steel Corporation operated generating stations that were located at the industrial heartland of Sheffield. During the early hours the wind really wound itself up and started to rattle the roof of the turbine. It was quite a commotion.

"The site was situated near the River Don and all of a sudden there was a mighty crash from somewhere outside, possibly, I thought, the other side of the river. I did my best to peer through the howling darkness but couldn't see anything. Next morning all was revealed. I found out the gable end of a house had collapsed killing a seventeen year old youth in the process.

"I left work at 6am and nearby there was a coal storage tip for the boilers. I had to walk past it to get out and with the wind whipping up a frenzy in amongst the coal shards, the smaller pieces were sent airborne, a few of which hit me in the face. I have to say it was very dangerous walking anywhere that morning! I caught the bus and passed numerous windows that had been blown in, giving the appearance of a war zone.

"I arrived back at my parents house where my wife Sylvia and I were staying and immediately Sylvia told me they had heard breaking glass during the night but didn't know what had happened. In the full light of day it became clear. My dad's eighteen foot greenhouse had completely collapsed. Later on we also discovered there was damage to the roof of the house we were in the process of buying. What an experience it was at the time, and thanks Gordon for reviving my memory."

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