1987 storm: How the chaos contributed to Black Monday financial crisis

The great gale of 1987 felled 173,000 cubic metres of timber in Thetford Forest.
Photo courtesy Forestry Commission The great gale of 1987 felled 173,000 cubic metres of timber in Thetford Forest. Photo courtesy Forestry Commission

Monday, October 15, 2012
8:00 AM

To add to the chaos created by the October 1987 great storm, the extreme wind and rain contributed to a shocking global financial crisis.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Alan Norman's photos of the aftermath of the October 1987 storm around Norwich.Alan Norman's photos of the aftermath of the October 1987 storm around Norwich.

The storm played its part in making what came to be known in the financial world as Black Monday.

With an estimated 15 million trees blown down by gales of over 90mph in the south-east of England, the timber market was all of a sudden flushed with stock that threatened to see the trade’s worth plummet.

To combat this great stores of wood were safely stored in mass piles, including at Thetford Forest where 173,000 cubic metres of felled timber was stored.

In total there was an incredible 600,000 cubic metres of woodland lost in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Dry Rot and Daffodils, by Marie Mackie.Dry Rot and Daffodils, by Marie Mackie.

The financial markets felt an unfortunate knock-on effect of the storm however, with the travel problems and loss of power for many homes meaning that few traders managed to struggle into work in London on Friday, October 16.

Unfortunately this coincided with the Hong Kong and Tokyo stock markets crashing and the financial crisis spreading west through Europe.

When London re-opened on Monday, October 19, there was mass panic selling of stocks.

At one point the FTSE 100 index was down by over 13pc but closed with a fall of 10.8pc. At the time it was the biggest one-day fall ever and destroyed £50bn of market value.

Of course Black Monday was a result of complex global financial problems, but the timing of storm certainly didn’t help.

What followed around Norfolk, Suffolk and much of south-east England was a mass programme to re-plant trees, some of which are still growing towards their former glory today.

One of the Norfolk woodland areas to suffer major damage was Felbrigg Hall, near Cromer.

Chris Mackie, now living in Heacham, near King’s Lynn, was a houseman and chief administrator at Felbrigg and lived at the National Trust estate with his author wife, Mary, who penned her memories of the time in her 1994 book Dry Rot and Daffodils.

Extracts from the book recall: “Twenty-five mature oaks had gone down like skittles, falling right across the entrance drive. TWENTY-FIVE of them, leaving great gaps in what had once been a beautiful archway of trees stretching from the main gate to the corner where a glorious copper beech grows.

“The trees are lying so closely packed that you can’t even see there’s a roadway.”

The book recalls the couple’s time living at Felbrigg and talks of the frightening night of the storm.

Mrs Mackie also wrote: “What no one south of Watford seemed to realise was that the storm swept on further north, diagonally across East Anglia, wreaking more havoc as it went.

“At around 6am wild winds woke us, battering around the hall, a storm of sound and fury and driving rain. We felt the house shake and heard noises as of slates falling, but in the darkness we could see little.”

- For an in-depth look at how Blickling Hall, near Aylsham, has recovered from the storm - with pictures of how its landscape looked in the immediate aftermath, and how it looks today - make sure to see Friday’s 25th anniversary coverage.

- To see many more photos of the 1987 storm, as well as how the shocking news was reported in the EDP and Evening News at the time, see the links at the top-right of this page.

0 comments

Multimedia

Related links

More Lifestyle Articles

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT