12th September 1869

Guernsey was struck by a hurricane

Guernsey and its neighbouring Channel Islands were struck by violent storms on 12 September 1869. They caused widespread damage and wrecked ships, causing some deaths.

The average wind speed had been 68 miles an hour for the previous 12 hours. Trees were ripped up right across Guernsey – and even those that had managed to keep themselves upright were stripped of their leaves. Several buildings lost their roofs.

Cross channel services were forced back to the mainland and the packet ship to Guernsey and Jersey was stranded. Another ship, bound for Jersey, foundered in the Channel and had to be towed back to Ramsgate Harbour.

The following day, Monday 13th, a schooner called the Countess of Leicester foundered off Beachy Head. She began to leak in the two days after the gales.

Although six of the schooner’s crew were landed at Deal by a rescue boat, one boy who had been onboard drowned when being hauled across in a life buoy. His body was brought back to shore with the rest of the crew.

The broader picture

It wasn’t only the Channel Islands that felt the force of the wind. According to a story in the Guardian on 16 September, “reports from all parts of the country concur in stating that the recent gales were the severest which have been experienced for a long time, and the damage done has been very extensive”.

In the words of The Times, “the wind frequently blew with the force of a hurricane, causing great loss to shipping at sea and damage to property on land”.

Even in central London, ships that had taken refuge on the Thames were thrown against each other. Boats were wrecked right across the south of England, with a list of 72 damaged and destroyed vessels compiled by Lloyds over the first two days of inclement weather.

On dry land, buildings lost tiles and chimneys, and trees were uprooted. As The Times reported, “large branches of the fine old elms, particularly in the Long Walk and Queen Anne’s Ride, which have weathered the storms for nearly two centuries, have been torn away by the violence of the winds, and are strewed over the avenues and drives from one end to the other”.


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Other events that occured in September

Channel Television took to the air 1st
A Guernseyman cycled to Herm 2nd
Brecqhou was put up for sale 3rd
Renoir arrived on Guernsey to paint 4th
Ship sinks in St Sampson harbour 5th
The melon king died… long live the melon king 6th
Coronavirus returns to Guernsey 7th
HD Ferries makes its last crossing
6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment fought at the Somme 8th
Guernsey number plate sold for £240,000 9th
Guernsey hosted the second Island Games 10th
Major Guernsey employer Tektronix went public 11th
Guernsey was struck by a hurricane 12th
Schoolboys and teacher went missing off Sark 13th
Guernsey holidaymakers head home itching 14th
The title Baron de Saumarez was created 15th
Missing girl, Jetta, was found on Guernsey 16th
Archaeologists found a porpoise grave 17th
An Islander aircraft crashed in Guernsey 18th
Guernsey commando Hubert Nicolle died 19th
Guernsey and Jersey considered merging 20th
Occupation resister Winifred Green was deported 21st
The Devil’s Rock had its opening night 22nd
The Duke of Connaught visited Guernsey 23rd
Former bailiff Daniel de Lisle Brock died 24th
Occupation president Ambrose Sherwill died 25th
Trudy, Guernsey’s biggest ever import, was installed 26th
“Let em starve,” said Churchill 27th
A Guernsey planning dispute headed to Europe 28th
Herm tenant Major Peter Wood died 29th
Spotlight was broadcast for the first time 30th