The Royal Pavilion and the Great Storm of 1987

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.

Stone ball from Royal Pavilion minaret embedded in Music Room carpet after Great Storm of 1987

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

3 Responses

  1. andyo1976

    I remember this storm well ! I was working around the corner from the Pavillion at that time, at the Royal Pavillion Tavern (Pav Tav / Shades Bar). We had just finished a large re-furb to the Pub and building. The night of the Storm we attended a topping out party at the Pub’s nightclub. I remember waiting for a cab outside the pub around 2am, it was earily still. Got home, slept through the storm, thanks to booze. Ended up the next day back down the pub, the storm blew down a 5 ton chimney stack through the building, it landed on the bar in the nightclub where we were drinking hours before… Lucky escape! got another 12 months work out it though.

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