Brighton has often been struck by heavy storms, but the one that lingers in living memory for many people is the Great Storm of 1987. 25 years ago, on the night between 15 and 16 October, freakishly strong winds raged across the south east of England. Numerous trees in Brighton & Hove were uprooted, and many buildings were damaged.
The Royal Pavilion estate was not spared. The trees in the grounds suffered considerable damage, including one tree which managed to crush two telephone boxes against the Pavilion Theatre. But the most distressing piece of damage occurred on the roof of the Pavilion. A stone ball was dislodged from one of of the minarets, which crashed through the roof and embedded itself in the carpet of the Music Room.
Sadly, this damage is just one of a series of disasters that have befallen this room. In the 1860s, a gas explosion damaged a corner of the room prompting the building’s temporary closure. In 1975 the room was hit by a devastating arson attack, requiring a lengthy programme of restoration. This work was just nearing completion when the storm struck, and the hand-woven carpet hit by the stone ball had only been recently laid. While investigating the damage, it was discovered that parts of the building were suffering from dry rot. This required further restoration work, and the Music Room did not open again until 1992.
If you would like to learn more about the Great Storm and its effect on Brighton & Hove, there is a great collection of photographs and personal memories on the My Brighton & Hove website.
Kevin Bacon, Digital Development Officer