03 March 2021

Hove & Portslade Weather

Judy Middleton 2002 (revised 2021)

copyright © J.Middleton
This dramatic Edwardian postcard of a stormy sea at Hove was very popular with visitors

The weather has always been a topic of interest. As will be seen from these examples, extreme weather is nothing new.

November 1606 – Revd John Postlethwaite, vicar of Portslade, recorded that the ‘vicaridge Barne is blowne downe’ (sic).

26 November 1703 – According to Henry Porter the great storm ‘commenced at midnight and lasted eight hours with ruinous fury, houses were demolished.’ Unhappily, ten warships were lost at sea, and some 1,300 seamen drowned as a consequence; the vessels included HMS Resolution of 60 guns. The grass on the Downs was so encrusted with salt that at first the sheep refused to nibble it. But at length they were forced to eat because of hunger, and afterwards drank water like fishes.

11 August 1705 – Another fearful tempest raged during the day without any abatement and destroyed several structures. Both these storms caused inconvenience to Hove villagers because salt-water contaminated their south well situated on the beach opposite the west side of Hove Street.

29 January 1748 – The South Downs were covered with snow, and it was the flocks of sheep that suffered, and in many cases were suffocated under a blanket of snow.

June 1791 – Amazingly, snow was reported to have fallen on the Down in the middle of the summer.

1795 – According to Relham, in this year there was a great flood and eighteen weeks of frost.

12 March 1806 – There was a heavy snowstorm in which William Neville of Middle Street, Brighton, a baker by trade, was lost in a snowdrift near Mother Rook’s cottage in the gap at Aldrington.

January 1814 – It was a miserable month bringing severe winter weather with temperatures below freezing for almost the whole month, lasting from the 3rd until the 25 January.

30 July 1820 – There was a dramatic storm with loud thunder and large hailstones. It caused havoc amongst among the birds, and at Portslade and other villages thousands of small birds such as sparrows and linnets fell dead to the ground. It was said they were killed by lightning but it could have been the hailstones as well.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
This print is dedicated to Captain S. Brown, the designer of the Chain Pier. The view shows the storm of 23 November 1824

24 November 1824
– A furious gale blowing from the south sent waves crashing over Beach Cottages, situated on the beach at Hove, south of the coast road. The occupants were obliged to flee and take refuge in an empty barn.

29 November 1836 – According to the Revd Boys Ellman there occurred ‘the most destructive hurricane I ever heard of in Sussex.’ Vast numbers of trees were blown down, plus some 40 barns within a ten-mile radius of Lewes. According to Henry Porter, the hurricane blew down Hudson’s cowshed at Blatchington, and tore off the thatch on some buildings in Hove Street.

24 December 1836 – The heavy snowfall caused an avalanche at South Street, Lewes, which buried fifteen people in their cottages – although they had been warned to leave – and only six were pulled out alive. Somers Clarke remembered that the snow was just as heavy in the Brighton area. His parents had to be dug out of their house in Hanover Crescent because the snow was piled up against their front door. Even the king, William IV, was marooned inside the Royal Pavilion, and for two days was unable to communicate with his ministers in London. According to another account, the snow did not melt for three months.

1844 – There was a severe drought of 101 days, lasting from 15 March to 23 June. During this time only 0.53-in of rain fell.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
View of Pool Valley, Brighton during the storm of 1850. Atmospheric depiction by Ford; shows Creak's baths, Perkins the builder, Bamion the Tailor climbing out of a top storey window down a ladder into a boat and next door The Duke of Wellington Public House.

1859 – In February there were heavy gales and lifeboats had to be launched to help Vizcaya and D’Elmina after a collision in the Channel. There were further gales on 25 and 28 October.

February 1860 – A gale blew a stick of chimneys through the roof of number 5 Brunswick Terrace.

2 June 1860 – According to Henry Cheal there was a great storm on this day that caused many ships and fishing boats to come to grief, and the beach was strewn with wreckage:

The collier Pike ran ashore 100 yards to the east of the harbour entrance

The schooner Mary Ann ran aground on the west side of the harbour

Brighton fishing smack William and Eliza ran aground at Southwick

(The crews of all these vessels were saved)

Two luggers were driven ashore

The Eliza split into pieces

Two Brighton fishing boats were damaged

Coal brig Transit of Shoreham ran ashore east of the Chain Pier, and within a few minutes was knocked to pieces with coal and timber strewn along the shore

French brig Atlantique of Nantes, laden with corn, was driven ashore opposite the Albion Hotel. The Mate drowned but the rest of the crew were rescued.

18 January 1866 – Gabriel McConnochie, headmaster of St Nicolas School, Portslade, wrote in the School Log, ‘storms of snow, most wintry day I’ve seen at Portslade.’ He arrived in the village in 1863.

22 June 1866 – Gabriel McConnochie (see above) wrote in the School Log that at Portslade it was ‘grilling hot, 85 in the shade’.

July 1868 - A violent thunderstorm ended three months of drought.

November 1875 – There was a strong north-west wind blowing and a flood tide that drove sea-water over the bank to join the canal and flooded the Gas Works to a depth of 18-in.

March 1876 – According to Henry Cheal sea-water again came over the bank into the canal.

1879 – According to William Kebbell, Hove’s Medical Officer of Health, the summer was ‘probably the coldest and attended with heavier falls of rain than any on record.’ On 2 June bad weather carried away the southern portion of Sussex Road.

18 January 1881 – A blizzard left the streets piled with snow. Hove Commissioners employed an average of 97 men and 76 horses a day for a period of ten days in order to clear the streets. Upwards of 19,000 loads of snow were carted away, besides large quantities being thrown into the sewers. The total cost of battling with the snow came to £546-8-6d. It could easily have been a larger sum of money but fortunately some landowners, including the Vallance Trustees, allowed some snow to be deposited on their ‘vacant’ land. The surveyor estimated that around 80,880 loads of snow fell on the streets. There exists a lovely photograph of the snow piled up in Shoreham in front of the Marlipins.

29 April 1882 – A great gale caused a considerable amount of damage to the east foreshore, particularly between Adelaide Crescent and number 6 groyne. A large stack of chimneys fell with a crash at Captain Sandeman’s house in Queen’s Gardens.

June 1882 – A storm caused the intercepting sewer to overflow into the houses of Victoria Terrace.

20 January 1886 – The Connaught Road School Log Book noted that there was a snowstorm, and the school did not open – in fact it closed for the rest of the week.

20 March 1888 – Snowstorm.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

2 February 1889 – A storm was strong enough to cause damage to the western incline in front of the sea wall at Hove with granite coping and pitcher paving being disturbed for a length of 70-ft. The damage was repaired at a cost of £40.

1890 – It was recorded in Hove Council Minutes that salt spray blown inland by a violent sea had destroyed some of the turf on the south side of Brunswick Lawns.

copyright © J.Middleton
This school is now known as the Brackenbury School but in 1891 when the girls were busy with their knitting inside while thick snow lay outside, it was still a church school

 9 March 1891 - It was in the morning that the blizzard began, consequently only 53 girls out of a total of 90 managed to reach St Nicolas School, Portslade. The normal timetable was suspended, and the girls spent the entire day knitting. At Bramber Farm an elderly shepherd died from the cold.

1893 – There was a prolonged drought that lasted no less than 60 days – from March to May.

28 April 1895 – April is usually a fairly dry month but with short showers of rain. However, in this year a drought started on 28 April that lasted until 17 July.

15 July 1896 – Severe thunderstorm.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
West Pier, Brighton, following storm damage in 1896. Walkway above beach has collapsed, with several people viewing damage.

8 October 1896
– Stormy seas created a 16-ft breach in the timber groyne opposite the centre of Adelaide Crescent

23 January 1897 – The snowfall on this day caused Hove Council to engage extra men and horses in order to clear the streets. This meant an expenditure of around £200, which unfortunately was beyond the amount estimated for that month.

1899 – Augustine Griffith, Hove’s Medical Officer of Health, attributed the excessive number of deaths in the town from diarrhoea to the prolonged drought during the three months from July to September. There were 34 deaths, almost all of them infants under one year of age.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

10 September 1903 – A bad storm sent waves up to 40-ft high crashing onto the shore.. Many bathing machines were smashed to pieces, and Volk’s Railway was damaged. The structure worst hit in Hove was the Montpelier Steam Laundry in Mortimer Road. After the storm the Sussex Daily News stated that the premises had the appearance of ‘having been battered by a battery of artillery’. The roof of the boiler house blew off, and the huge boiler and chimney dismantled. Another large boiler and chimney were left in a dangerous condition. The drying grounds were littered with broken glass, slates, and chimney pots. Some huge branches from trees around Holy Trinity Church were torn off; around 40-ft of hoarding surrounding Mills Terrace on the sea-front was blown across the pavement together with the iron railing to which it was attached. Around 12-ft of wooden boarding around Palmeira Lawn Tennis Court in Lansdowne Road was destroyed, while at Cottesmore School around 40-ft of the boundary wall collapsed.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove 
The exclusive
Princes Hotel was battered by strong winds (From an advertisement in Brighton Season Magazine)

January 1904 - There was a fierce storm with a gale, thunder, lightning and hail. A huge stack of chimneys on the northern wall of Princes Hotel, weighing six tons, crashed down and trapped Miss Churchman in her bed for six hours. The Fire Brigade came to her rescue. Chimneys also collapsed at 11 and 12 King’s Gardens, but nobody was injured.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton's Royal Pavilion 29 December 1908

28 December 1908 – There was a heavy fall of snow, and workmen were kept busy clearing snow away from the streets at Brighton. The Brighton Herald even came up with a statistic for their endeavours, stating that 224,000 tons of snow had been shifted. It would be interesting to know this exact sum was calculated.

copyright © J.Middleton
This photograph looks like a negative; in fact it shows St Andrew’s Church almost blotted out by the snowstorm of 25 April 1908.

March 1909 – This month saw snow and ice, and at Portslade an eight-year old boy died as a result. The youngster slipped on ice in Elm Road, fell over and hit his head. 

copyright © J.Middleton
An unusual image of George Street after a fall of snow in April 1911
1911- On 12/13 March a strong wind broke three iron telegraph poles in Old Shoreham Road, adjacent to Hove Cemetery, which caused a loss of service between Brighton, Worthing, Chichester, Bognor and Portsmouth. It was resolved to erect creosoted wooden poles instead – it is interesting to note that wooden telegraph poles continue to be the norm.

On 22 March the thermometer registered 61 degrees, and yet on 26 March there was snow. More snow arrived on 5 April. This was good news for the unemployed because out of the 460 men who were hastily employed to clear the streets, 360 of them came from their ranks. Then there was a drought lasting from early May until the end of September – between 14 May and 16 June there was no rain at all.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove 
A snowball fight between soldiers at the 2nd Eastern Military Hospital in 1915
(Brighton, Hove & Sussex Grammar School in Dyke Road, Hove)

22 January 1915Ellen Street Infant School Log Book recorded a heavy fall of snow.

1917/1918 – The Sussex Daily News (15 January 1918) recorded that there had been a 4-in fall of snow in Brighton and Hove, but it had soon thawed. The newspaper also added the following, ‘In addition to the unprecedented troubles connected with the food problem the winter of 1917-1918 will be remembered as the great snow winter – at least in this part of the country.’ Since December 1917 there had been severe cold weather.

1921 – A drought lasted from 1 February for a period of 100 days. Although there was some rain on 45 occasions, the total only came to 4.26-in.

14 August 1927 – A storm washed away a considerable portion of the western esplanade between the concrete groyne opposite Hove Lagoon and the timber groyne opposite Glendor Road. At one point the esplanade was reduced to a width of 11-ft.

December 1927 – On Christmas Eve the snow started to fall, and it did not stop in the following 36 hours. On Boxing Day scores of men ventured on to the Downs seeking any sheep that could be saved from show drifts.

16 November 1928 – There was a terrific gale with wind speeds up to 60mph. A man was blown off his feet on Hove sea-front and taken to hospital. At 59 Lansdowne Street a skylight was blown out and a chimney fell through the gap. Barriers were erected in Goldstone Villas when a mass of loose masonry was observed on a house. A tree was blown down in West Blatchington.

20 July 1929 – There was a magnetic storm, which caused a freak wave at Brighton. It happened when it was low tide when suddenly a huge wave erupted at around 40 yards distance from the shore, and rolled in at a terrific speed on to the sand. Estimates as to its height vary from 5-ft to 10-ft, but when it hit the shingle, it recoiled upon itself to reach a height from 14-ft to 16-ft near the Palace Pier. It was miraculous that no life was lost because the backwash was terribly strong and dragged people into the sea, especially near the Palace Pier. Luckily for them, a second but smaller wave hurled them back on the shore.

1933 – This year produced one of the best summers on record.

16 September 1935 – The Sussex Daily News (18 September 1935) stated, ‘Hove seems to have caught the full severity of the storm. An unusual combination of events contributed towards the extent of the damage. Recent tides had swept away vast quantities of shingle with the result that when the high autumn tides coincided with a tremendous wind, the waves rolled in with unchecked force.’ There was a breach in the promenade in front of Western Lawns 60-yds in length and 15-ft in depth. A two mile stretch of the promenade was littered with sand, shingle and seaweed.

July 1936 – A great gale caused havoc to the temporary church of the Good Shepherd in Mile Oak. The walls and roof had only just been erected, but were now twisted and torn.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove 

3 October 1938 – There was a violent south-west gale, which averaged 45mph during the day but in the evening reached from 70 to 80mph. Between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. ¾-in of rain fell. In Walsingham Road a tree was blown down, and so was the hoarding around the new swimming baths on Hove sea-front (later known as the King Alfred).

copyright © G. Osborne
St Nicolas Church, Portslade in 1938
With thanks to Mr G. Osborne for granting permission for the reproduction of the above photograph  from his private collection.  

December 1938 –
Snow fell on 18 December and continued to fall every day until Christmas Day while the temperature fell to -4C. The conditions were especially hard on the birds, many of them dying of exposure ; all along the coast their pathetic bodies were washed up by the tide.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove 
Dyke Road, Hove in 1938

21 December 1938 – The Log Book of Davigdor Road Schools noted that all schools in Hove were shut because of snow and frost.

1939 /1940 – The Great Frost – There were two short thaws but apart from that the Great Frost lasted from 21 December to 4 February 1940. On the South Downs the unfortunate sheep took shelter under gorse bushes but when found still alive they could not move because their woolly coats had frozen them to the gorse.

26 and 29 January 1945 – There was a severe frost and most schools at Hove had to close because the outside toilets were frozen.

January 1946 – There were gales in this month that inflicted further damage on Hove’s already battered sea-shore, there having been no repairs or maintenance during the war years when the military were in charge.

26 January 1947 – A heavy fall of snow was made more miserable for people by electricity cuts. A letter in the Argus (11 December 1999) from a reader in Northfleet, Kent, stated the ‘only good thing about the very bad winter of 1947 was the free skating on Hove Lagoon.’

16 August 1947 – It was the hottest day with a temperature of 92F (33C) – a record that lasted until 1990.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
The King Alfred was threatened with flooding 

26 November 1954 -
Six men were hard at work trying to sandbag the parapet wall to prevent the basement of the King Alfred from being flooded because of stormy weather and high seas. But when the parapet wall was breached in three places, there was nothing more they could do. Sea-water flooded the underground car park and bowling green, and also invaded the basements of houses in Medina Terrace. Shingle was thrown all over the promenade.

2 February 1956 – The lowest temperature was recorded at 16F (-9C).

29 July 1956 – It was a day of high winds, and 300 trees were blown in Stanmer Park. It was also a Sunday, and a defiant old lady aged 90 at Hove insisted on making her customary visit to church. Unhappily, a violent gust caused her to fall down a flight of steps and she sustained injuries from which she died.

6 December 1957 – This day became known as Snow Friday. There were photographs of traffic stalled by the conditions at Rottingdean. Two ambulance men from Hove were detailed to collect a new-born infant in an incubator from Haywards Heath. It took them a good hour to leave Brighton, but that was nothing compared to the nightmare journey back. The ambulance, with baby and nurse, took eight hours to reach Brighton, and sometimes one of the ambulance men had to get out and lead the way. The road was full of traffic all slipping and sliding about. In the final stretch, people helped to push the ambulance along New England Road. After that ordeal, one ambulance man was obliged to spend another two hours in walking home.

1958 – There was snow on the 21, 22, and 23 January, and more snow on 7 February. On 23 January, Victor Bradley went to Lancing College as usual to take music lessons there, but when it was time to return to his home in Hove, he found that he was snowed in. The trains were not running, and the telephone lines were down, and was thus obliged to spend the night at the college. There was more snow from 7 to 10 March.

1959 – This year was the warmest on record with a lovely, hot summer.

1960 – At Hove 46.5-in of rain fell during the year, establishing a record that would not be broken until 2000 when there was 46.88-in.

1962/1963 – It was claimed that this was the coldest winter since 1740. With the exception of twelve nights, the temperature from 22 December 1962 to 17 February 1963 was below freezing point at night. It was not that much better during the daytime either with the temperature hovering at, or below, freezing point for 24 days. Att Brighton it was stated that the temperature was below freezing point for 27 days.

1964 – Ken Woodhams, Hove’s local weather expert, stated that this year was the wettest on record with an astonishing 46½-in of rain – the long term average for a year being 30¼-in.

8 December 1967 – It was another Snow Friday, and with 12 degrees of air frost it was also the coldest night since January 1963. The snow brought traffic to a complete standstill. At the level-crossing in Portslade a middle-aged woman collapsed and died. At Devil’s Dyke a man died while helping to push a car stuck in the snow.

1971 – In June there was such a lot of rain along the Sussex coast that it was almost five times higher than the average rainfall.

1976 – A memorable drought. It is remarkable how grass recovered after the ground had dried up for such a length of time. Indeed, cricket players on Victoria Recreation Ground could hardly claim that they played on grass at all. At Hove Library it was so hot that the plastic covers on the dust-jackets stuck together, and volumes had to be wrestled off the shelves. At Brighton the temperature never dipped below 88F (31C) during the first eight days of July, while on 27 June the temperature at Brighton was 95F (35C). Reservoirs were drying up, acquifers were not replenished, the use of garden sprinklers and hose-pipes was banned for the first time since 1947. There were 36 days without a drop of rain, which was classified as an absolute drought. Many fires broke out in tinder-dry heathland.

copyright © D.Sharp
St Nicolas Church, Portslade
February 1986

1983 – On 11 and 12 July the temperature was 88F. August was the driest since 1976 and only 0.82-in of rain fell.

February 1986 – At Brighton it proved to be the second coldest February of the century, and there nine ‘ice days’.

12, 13, 14 January 1987 – These were the coldest nights at 16F (-9C) since the same temperature was recorded on 2 February 1956. The snow lasted from 10 to 18 January. The 12 January was claimed to be the coldest day this century.

18 July 1987 – A freak thunderstorm hit the area and concentrated its efforts on Hove where 5-in of rain fell in the night. The worst affected areas were around Church Road, New Church Road, Wilbury Road, Portland Road, while basement flats in Brunswick Terrace and Holland Road were flooded. The lifts were out of action at the Dudley Hotel, and Alexandra Hotel because the lift shafts were deep in water. It was reckoned to be the wettest July at Hove in this century.

9 October 1987 – After ten days of continuous rain (making it the wettest period in Mile Oak since 1909) the great mud-slide at Mile Oak began, which residents blamed on modern farming practices. The mud-slide caused so much damage that Hove Council stated the cost of dealing with it amounted to £22,000.

15/16 October 1987 – The Great Gale – The wind speeds on this incredible night gusted up to 108mph. At Shoreham the wind speed was an astonishing 115mph. The roar of the wind was unbelievable, especially near the electricity pylons on the Portslade / Southwick border where it sounded like a very loud steam engine and sparks flew as the wires clashed together; afterwards spacers were introduced, which also alerted flying birds to the presence of wires. At Portslade large trees fell across High Street, blocking the road, while in Foredown Road seven giant trees collapsed at 3 a.m.

copyright © D.Sharp
Manor Road, Easthill Drive and Foredown Road blocked by fallen trees and ancient trees on the Village Green blown over

Mrs Bell Agha, aged 48 and a mother of two, was killed while she slept at home in St Keyna Avenue when a chimney crashed through the roof. Abigail Gardner, aged 20 months, had a narrow escape when the gable end of her parents’ house in Wilbury Crescent collapsed and showered her cot with bricks. Many houses lost tiles in the gale, and for quite a long time afterwards roof tiles – whether old or new – became a rare and valuable commodity. Downs Special School in Foredown Road, Portslade, was damaged, while the roof was ripped off the Eridge Road HQ of 176 Squadron Air Cadets. The gale even managed to get inside the cavity wall of a house on the north side of St Andrew’s Road and blow out the exterior wall. There was a dramatic photograph taken from the air later on showing Hove Lawns liberally strewn with the wreckage of countless beach huts.

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Hove Park

The gale took a terrible toll of trees. Unfortunately, the copious amounts of rain had loosened their roots, and they were ripped out of the ground, roots and all, often in a great round ball. In Hove Park many precious elm trees keeled over in a domino effect. The toll was a follows:

Hove Park – only 250 trees survived – 500 trees were either blown down or had to be felled.

Hove Cemetery – 46 trees blown down

Three-Cornered Copse – 120 beech trees blown down, other trees had to be removed.

St Ann’s Well Gardens – lost 50 trees

Easthill Park – 160 mature trees were lost, leaving only 74 still standing, and all of them requiring attention.

Street trees – around 500 were either blown down or had to be felled.

The final total was put at 2,000 trees lost in Hove and Portslade. Hove Council immediately placed an order for 800 new trees at a cost of £15,000. The cost of storm damage came to at least £1million. Some of the costs were as follows:

Estimated costs of repairs to Council houses - £450,000

Estimated costs of repairs to other Council property - £120,000

Estimated cost of removing fallen trees from parks - £365,000

Estimated cost of three-planting scheme - £100,000

Estimated cost of removing street trees and repairing pavements - £131,000 (but this amount would be recoverable from East Sussex County Council)

1988 – It was the wettest January since 1877, but there was some consolation in the following February when Hove recorded 142 hours of sunshine. In April, another record was broken when on 14 April Hove was deluged with 1.48-in (39mm) of rain, making it the wettest day this century.

June 1989 – At Hove there was no rain for 22 consecutive days leading to fears about the water supplies because the acquifers were not being replenished.

3 August 1990 – It was recorded as the hottest day since 16 August 1947 with a temperature of 92F (33C).

February 1991 - There were some cold days and nights during this month, and on the 7th the temperature at Shoreham dropped to -4C, which put it on a par with the temperature in Moscow. It called to mind the intense cold of February 1956. On the other side of the Downs, snow made some roads impassable.

January 1994 – Heavy rainfall caused the water table to rise, and there was flooding in some of the cellars of old houses in High Street, Portslade.

1994 – It was reported that national newspapers were featuring weather reports from Hove because Brighton stopped recording the weather two years ago as an economy measure, and Worthing had also ceased to produce reports. The Met Office insisted on exacting requirements and the Hove weather station was put on a six-month trial before being accepted. The automatic weather centre was situated on the roof of the King Alfred.

1999 – July was the driest in 44 years in Sussex, and only 0.31-in of rain fell that month – all on 19 July.

The hottest day was on 29 July when the temperature reached 28C.

The wettest day was 20 September when 1.53-in of rain fell.

The coldest night was 20 December when the temperature was -3C.

The wettest month was December with 5.55-in of rain – the wettest December since 1993.

The total rainfall for the year was 31.66-in, almost one inch higher than usual but not as high as the previous two years.

2000 – According to the Sunday Telegraph (5 November 2000) a small area of Sussex, including Brighton and Hove, recorded 15-in of rain during October, making it the wettest month ever in that area. A later article stated that the wettest district, relative to long-term mean, was the area between Brighton and Lewes, with a record 70-in of rain during the year as compared with the normal rainfall of 39-in; this represented an excess of around 80%.

Hove weather-man Ken Woodhams stated that 2000 was the wettest year for at least a hundred years. He recorded 46.86-in at his weather station, which beat the previous record of 46.5-in 1960. The wettest day was 4 July when more than 3-in of rain was recorded.

29 October 2000 – There were gales with wind speeds of up to 90mph recorded along the coast, and there were mountainous waves. Dozens of beach huts were damaged, and one of the new twin-pendant lamps near the Adelaide Crescent ramps was bent over.

9 November 2000 – The Fire Brigade spent most of the night pumping out flooded houses in the Oakdene area of Mile Oak.

copyright © J.Middleton
This ancient beech tree on Portslade Village Green was destroyed by a storm

October 2002 –
A venerable Beech tree that stood for years in the middle of Portslade Village Green had some huge limbs torn off in a gale, and the rest of the tree had to be felled.

2008 – The Bank Holiday on 26 May was a wash-out with wind and rain.

copyright © D.Sharp
The High Street, Portslade
December 2010

November 2010 – It was so wet and windy in early November that the service usually held at the Peace Statue for Remembrance Sunday had to be moved indoors, and was held at Brighton Town Hall. An interesting photograph was published showing Hove promenade, with beach huts in the background, strewn with the usual pebbles, but also displaying foam. Ruth and Beth Baxendale were the unfortunate owners of a beach hut that was literally blown apart, scattering their belongings over the sea-front.

December 2010 – There was a seasonal fall of snow on 18 December.

December 2011 – Instead of the usual damp winter, this month saw the issuing of the first drought order since 2003 by South East Water with letters despatched to its 65,000 customers. In fact, there had been a drought since June, and the rainwater levels were the lowest they had been for one hundred years.

February 2012 – Southern Water, supplying the Brighton and Hove area, now stated there was an official drought because the previous ten months in Sussex had been the driest since 1888.

June 2012 – There were gusts of wind of 40mph and at Cardinal Newman School a tree damaged a classroom. Tree surgeons and a structural engineer were summoned to ensure the safety of the children, and the clearing away of wood. Meanwhile, lessons had to be switched to another classroom. At Kingsway, loose furniture was blown into the road, while the canopy at the Texaco Garage became detached. At Portslade there was a call-out because of a loose grate.

January 2013 – After winter rains, the water table rose, and spring water came up in the cellar of a house in High Street, Portslade. The couple living there installed a pump and reckoned that the machine pumped out around 900 gallons of water. There was flooding in South Street too.

14 February 2013 – There was a fierce gale that inevitably was called the St Valentine’s Day Storm, and it also coincided with a high tide. Hove Beach Huts were particularly afflicted by the gale, and at least ten of them were blown against the wall separating them from the esplanade and the pitch and putt green, and were badly damaged.

January 2014 – Early in the New Year there was another storm that threw quantities of shingle on to Hove Esplanade.

copyright © J.Middleton
Some beach huts took a battering in February 2014
14 February 2014 –
After a storm, and the usual scattering of shingle on the promenade, there were some more interesting deposits on the beach, such as a lump-sucker fish, plus egg pouches from sharks, popularly called mermaids’ purses. The wind also destroyed several beach huts at Hove.

28 July 2014 – There was a fierce storm, including lightning, but perhaps the most unusual aspect were the hailstones – as large as 20p pieces - that caused havoc by blocking up drains and precipitating flooding. According to the Met. Office, the average rainfall for July between 1981 and 2010 was 53mm of rain. However, in one hour on one day (8.30 a.m. to 9.30 a.m. on 29 July 2014) the Isfield measuring station recorded 37mm of rain. There was an unusual photograph in the Argus showing a pavement in Hove covered with a carpet of white hailstones.

There was flooding in Church Road, Hove, and the Giggling Squid Thai Restaurant had to shut altogether because the roof was destroyed and the building flooded. There was damage to businesses in George Street too, including Chestnut Tree House (a charity shop for a children’s hospice) where the stock was destroyed by flooding. Fire-fighter Lisa Hastings, based at Roedean Station, had a surreal experience when the team received a summons to pump out a house in Wilbury Road, and she discovered it was the same building where she lived in a ground floor flat. But it was the basement flat that was in trouble. Indeed, the pressure of water was intense enough to smash through the window of the living room, leaving 6-ft of water. All belongings were destroyed, while the landlord stated that he thought it would cost in the region of £80,000 to repair the damage. King’s House was flooded, and there was also flooding at Clarendon Villas.

At Elm Road, Portslade, Maryanne Stoner was photographed clearing her car of 1-ft of water, while neighbour Peter Freeman had experienced water rushing through his house when the front door was unfortunately opened – the water reached a depth of 24-in, way past the plug sockets. Meanwhile Chris Cordell of Lincoln Road, Portslade, said his house had been flooded twice within a week because nothing had been done about the drains outside.

At around 6 a.m. lightning took out Hove sub-station, which meant the line between Brighton and Littlehampton had to be closed through lack of power. Other train services were also disrupted, while Stagecoach South was obliged to stop their number 700 bus running through Portslade and Southwick because of the flooding.

2016 – There were gales, and Storm Imogen occurred in February. It was galling for the authorities who cleared the sea-front of shingle in February to prepare for the Half-Marathon, when just three weeks later another storm threw shingle back over the promenade again. In fact, experts think the more frequent storms are a symptom of global warming, and the protection of local beaches is becoming an increasing and expensive problem. This is because shingle provides a vital front-line against erosion by powerful waves – if the beach were to be just sand, there would be nothing to stop waves eroding the promenade and flooding the area. It is a continuing battle against nature because the prevailing currents move the shingle eastwards towards Black Rock for 20 hours in a day, which just goes to show how powerful the sea is because each metre of shingle weighs 1½ tons. The roar of a storm on the sea-front is the sound of a mass of shingle being shifted. Whereas three years ago the cost of restoring the shingle came to around £10,000 and an annual visit, today the cost can be between £30,000 and £40,000 necessitating two or three visits a year plus emergency visits.

March 2016 – Storm Katie smashed to pieces a beach hut belonging to actor Brian Capron, aged 69, and his actress wife Jacqueline Bucknell. They purchased the hut in 2000 for £800 when they moved to a house in Denmark Villas. Capron will be remembered for playing the part of Richard Hillman for two years in Coronation Street.

June 2016 – Portslade experienced torrential rain, but the weather pattern was so localised that there was only drizzle a brief mile away. In the Old Village the water rose to a depth of 2-ft. Firefighters were summoned to deal with the situation in South Street, Drove Road, and Valley Road, while the Old Shoreham Road, near Mayberry Garden Centre, was closed because of flooding.

November 2019 – A strong wind blew down scaffolding in Boundary Road / Station Road that blocked the road for a time. Train services were disrupted, while Dyke Road, Hove, was closed in both directions because of a fallen tree. Just how fierce the wind was can be gauged from data at the Newhaven Coastguard Institute that recorded ‘force 12 hurricane gusts’ and winds of 73mph. It was said to be the worst storm in years with 20-ft waves, and shingle all over the promenade. In Brighton and Hove at least 25 of the new recycling bins were torn from their moorings, and three beach huts were damaged. A dramatic photograph was published showing one of Hove’s promenade shelters marooned in a tide of water and pebbles. It was fortunate that nobody was injured.

2020 – It was reported that February was the wettest on record. Then came another notable statistic with the month of May being the driest since 1896. By Wednesday 27 May there had been at least 573 hours of sunshine since the beginning of March, beating the previous record in 1948 of 555.3 hours. May 2020 also exceeded in sunshine hours the memorably hot August of 1976. (Sunday Times 31/5/20).

In early July there were continuous strong winds for around eight days. August saw some very hot weather with sunshine from the 4th to the 11th when temperatures rose to the high 80sF, and inland they were over 90F. But August also brought storms Ellen and Frances. Although there was plenty of rain in other parts of the country, it largely missed out the south coast.

copyright © G.Middleton
Storm Bella also tossed this beach hut over the wall to land on the old pitch and putt green

There were more storms with Storm Aiden (31 August/1 September) and Storm Barbara in October. Then on 26/27 December there was Storm Bella, with winds at Brighton and Hove gusting at 60mph, sending huge waves crashing onto the shore. On the sea-front some beach huts were damaged while several of the expensive, newly-erected igloos north of Rockwater were flattened. In Tongdean Road, a tree fell on a parked Rolls Royce, shattering the windscreen, and squashing the roof.

copyright © G.Middleton
Storm Bella demolished some of the newly-established igloos in December 2020

See also – Portslade and Flooding

Hove Weather Stalwarts

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums
Brighton Graphic 3 April 1915

Dr William John Treutler moved to 8 Goldstone Villas in 1890. He was a Fellow of the Meteorological Society and President of the Brighton & Hove Natural History & Philosophical Society.

From 1912 to 1914 Dr Treutler, recorded weather details as follows:

January 1912 – rainfall 2.98-in / max. temp. 49.2F / min. temp. 27.8F

February 1912 – rainfall 2.61-in / max. temp. 53.9F / min. temp. 20.F

March 1912 - rainfall 4.24-in / max. temp 57.7F/ min. temp. 35.2.F

April 1912 – rainfall 0.18-in / max. temp. 70.5F / min. temp 32.9F

May 1912 – rainfall 1.48-in / max. temp. 72.7F/ min. temp. 37.8F

June 1912 – rainfall 3.30-in / max. temp. 78.3F / min. temp 47.9F

July 1912 – rainfall 0.82-in / max. temp. 86.7F / min. tmp 48.3F

August 1912 – rainfall 6.50-in / max. temp. 67.6F / min. temp 46.F

September 1912 – rainfall 2.14-in / max. temp. 67.6F / min. temp. 42.3F

October 1912 – rainfall 4.66-in / max. temp. 61.1F / min. temp 37.4F

November 1912 – rainfall 2.29-in / max. temp. 54.9F / min. temp. 32.8F

December 1912 – rainfall 4.84-in / max. temp. 52.1F / min. temp. 27.7F

January 1913 – rainfall 5.21-in / max. temp. 50.2F / min. temp 30.1F

February 1913 – rainfall 1.22-in / max. temp. 56.1F / min. temp 29.7F

March 1913 – rainfall 2.43-in / max. temp. 55.6F / min. temp. 30.2F

April 1913 – rainfall 3.07-in / max. temp. 67.4F / min. temp 31.9F

May 1913 – rainfall 2.32-in / max temp. 77.7F / min. temp 38F

June 1913 – rainfall 0.74-in / max. temp 79.5F / min. temp. 45.5F

July 1913 – rainfall 2.90-in / max. temp 72.5F / min. temp. 47.9F

August 1913 – rainfall 1.39-in / max. temp. 77.1F / min. temp. 49.7F

September 1913 – rainfall 3.29-in / max. temp. 69.2F / min. temp. 47.3F

October 1913 – rainfall 4.86-in / max. temp. 69.6F / min. temp. 40.8F

November 1913 – rainfall 3.75-in / max. temp. 62.3F / min. temp. 39.F

December 1913 – rainfall 1.65-in / max. temp. 54.2F / min. temp. 28.9F

January 1914 – rainfall 0.70-in / max. temp. 51.1F / min. temp. 24.9F

February 1914 – rainfall 4.05-in / max. temp. 53.2F / min. temp. 34.3F

March 1914 – rainfall 4.92-in / max. temp 55.5F / min. temp. 32.F

April 1914 – rainfall 1.35-in / max. temp. 72.1F / min. temp. 37.1F

May 1914 – rainfall 0.84-in / max. temp. 76.1F / min. temp. 38.F

June 1914 – rainfall 1.11-in / max. temp. 75.6F / min. temp. 44.F

July 1914 – rainfall 2.40-in / max. temp. 83.3F / min. temp. 50.3F

August 1914 – 1.10-in / max. temp 83.7F / min. temp. 83.7F

September 1914 – rainfall 1.40-in / max. temp. 78.9F / min, temp. 42.F

October 1914 – rainfall 2.76-in / max. temp. 64.8F / min. temp. 38.7F

November 1914 – rainfall 2.75-in / max. temp. 61F / min. temp. 31.8F

December 1914 – rainfall 9.43-in / max. temp. 54.1F / min. temp. 31.8F

Ken Woodhams

During the 18th century Ken Woodhams’ ancestors were farmers in Sussex, and Ken was born at Hove just metres away from the house occupied by his family for over 65 years. During the Second World War – he was called up in 1942 – he served with the Royal Signals. Following the war, he spent 40 years working for Cornhill Insurance, retiring from the Hove branch in the summer of 1987. The company presented him with a traditionally-styled barometer to reflect his consuming interest in recording weather details.

The official weather recorder at Hove was Guy Michell, and Woodhams knew him well. When Michell had to stand down due to advancing years, Woodhams was happy to fill the breach because he had been recording the weather at Hove since 1947. Woodhams lived at Avondale Road, and every morning at 8.30 a.m. he checked his weather-recording equipment. He approached the Evening Argus about the possibility of him sending them a regular weather report, and his first contribution appeared on 21 August 1959, becoming something of an institution. He also ensured that a monthly weather report was despatched to Hove Library, as well as Brighton Library. By 1999 Woodhams had the data to make weather comparisons over a period of 40 years.

Woodhams’ other interests included volunteering to work at the Bluebell Railways, and indeed he was station master there for a number of years. Sundays found him singing in the choir of St George’s Church, Kemp Town, where he was also a lay reader. He died at the age of 92 in 2015.


(11/12/99 / 12/11/10 / 13/11/11 / 24/12/11 / 21/1/12 / 23/6/12 / 9/2/13 / 29/7/14 / 30/7/14 / 30/3/16 / 2/4/16 / 8/6/16/ 4/11/19 / 6/11/19 / 28/12/20)

copyright © Royal Pavilion & Museums,
Winter of 2010
Cheal, H. The Ships and Mariners of Shoreham (1909 reprinted 1981)

Ellman, Revd E. B. Recollection of a Sussex Parson (1925)

Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade

Evening Argus

Hove Council Minutes

Ogley, B. Currie, I Davison, M. The Sussex Weather Book (1991)

Porter, Henry The History of Hove (1897)

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Sussex Daily News (15/1/1918 / 18/9/1935)

The Keep

Connaught Road School Log Book – ESC 101/1/2 – Boys 1878 to July1908

Davigdor Road School Log Book – ESC 101/1/15 – Girls 1912-1945

Ellen Street School Log Book – ESC 102//1/2 – Girls 1907-1929

St Nicolas School Log Book – 135/1/1/ - Mixed and Infants

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