New Year’s Day 1877 at Eastbourne
TERRIFIC GALE AND HEAVY DAMAGES AT EASTBOURNE. PIER HALF WASHED AWAY AND NARROW ESCAPE FROM DROWNING.
The most terrific gale which has visited Eastbourne since it has been known as a fashionable watering place occurred Monday last, and the tide being its highest within about hour of the time that the gale slightly dropped, the wind blowing from the west, greater damage was done along the shore than even during the heavy gale of 1875. On Monday a large portion of the pier was washed away, the inner part twisting and snapping under the force of the huge volumes of water, and giving way just at the moment the pier master and three others were endeavouring to save some of the timber in use during the enlargement; in a few moments the huge seas lifted about 150 yards of the Pier bodily from its supports, the pillars giving way rapidly one after the other. The end to seaward sunk, but rising again, was carried away to the eastward at a fearful speed, the waves smashing it like so much matchwood, the ironwork being twisted about if it were no stronger than string or wire. Being drawn down with the sinking irons it was thought by all assembled at the Parade that the unfortunate pier master and his men must be washed under and drowned. With the strength of despair, however, they managed to retain their grasp of the iron work, and as the water receded, scrambled up to the pier entrance and were saved. The waves, dashing against the Parade, had in the meantime washed away a portion of the Marine and several yards of the Grand Parades. Towards Seaside the damage was very heavy, several of the boat-houses and fish-houses being washed away, and the streets presented an appearance of mighty rivers. Telegraph communication between the town and Hastings was interrupted, and for two miles the line of railway between Pevensey and Bexhill was washed away.
The weight of the water on the Grand Parade carried off about twenty yards of concrete, completely lifting the earth out and leaving just the stone wall on the outside. Several other parts on this portion were also damaged, several seats being carried right off out to sea. The rail which was some years ago placed at Splash Point was completely torn out and washed on to the Marine Parade. At this point the sea carried off everything before it, all the steps to the beach, and seats were carried off to sea and ended in several places in the sea wall; down by the library the waves ran down like a river, making complete prisoners of both Mr Gosling and Mr Gilbert in their houses, while further down the sea side the town may said to have been one complete river of water, several store houses for fishing tackle were washed down, the lifeboat was gutted with water, while the door of the Rowing Club’s House was carried right off its hinges, and the waves did considerable damage to some of the boats. Farther along the beach a house that stands close to the sea was completely gutted, and the sea ran right through the Board of Trade’s house, but the coastguardsmen, like knowing jack tars, had removed all the goods from the place sometime beforehand. At the Redoubt, the soldiers had to clear out from their premises at a moment’s notice, the water coming over into the moat like cataract, and soon finding its way to the living quarters of the men, where it lay the depth of between four and five feet; all the families in the Redoubt were kept prisoners at the top, all communication with the town being intercepted by the ocean. Several of the smaller boats got adrift from their moorings and floated off right into the Crumbles; capstans and timbers also drifted that way and this morning (Tuesday) the scene of the wreck is quite a spectacle in this part. The pier men and boatmen are both busy getting all they can of their different properties together. No doubt the damage will amount to some £1000, and it is hoped that it will be a very long time before Father Neptune extends much of his wrath on us as he did Monday.