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On This Day In History


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  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)
  • Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex (work in Mid Sussex)

    August 3rd 1879. Listed in TORRO's top 50 Most Intense Hailstorms - 1650 to date, this was probably London’s most intense hailstorm on record (although the storm of 1 August 1846 caused severe damage nearer the city centre with many pavements in London beyond repair). In Twickenham, Richmond, and Brentford, “many hailstones were as big as teacups”. Tiled roofs were “holed like bullets” and at Kew Gardens in just five minutes, some ten thousand pounds worth of damage was done, principally to conservatories.

    Max intensity: H6-7

    Swath length: 30 kms

    Swath width: 5-7 kms

    Course of hailstorm: Teddington (Greater London) to Watford (Hertfordshire)

    A lively day of record heat, hail, lightning and floods. Of the numerous lists of Britain’s top hailstorms, for majestic impertinence few match the storms of today in 1879, and of the day before yesterday the 1st in 1846. In, 1879 hailstorm - notable for incessant lightning – destroys almost every glasshouse in the Thames valley. Kew Gardens suffers three thousand panes smashed in the Temperate House and seven hundred in Paxton’s Great Palm House. If this sounds bad, it's nothing compared to the 1846 storm. Mid-Saturday afternoon, in temperatures of 32C, hail shatters more than seven thousand window panes in the Houses of Parliament, three hundred in Old Scotland Yard, ten thousand in Leicester Square, almost every pane of the glass arcades in Regent Street, Somerset House and the Burlington Arcade, and the picture gallery of Buckingham Palace which, as a result, is also flooded (though, amazingly no works are damaged).

    Courtesy 'The Wrong Kind of Snow', Woodwood and Penn)

    From 'Nature', Volume 20, Issue 514, pp. 432 (1879):

    I INCLOSE a tracing of a broken window-pane-one of the numerous cases of damage caused by the hail-storm on the morning of the 3rd inst. in this place. I almost fear the subject is one unworthy the attention of your readers, but I am curious to know what relation the space cut out may bear to the size of the hailstone causing it ; and whether the clean and regular opening made would indicate an almost horizontal direction of the blow, as in the case of a bullet. Mr Charles Frederick White Esq

    Also from the 'Nature' publication "Report on the Progress and Condition A of the Royal Gardens at Kew" for 1879:

    Some idea of the magnitude of the destruction caused by the hailstorm of August 3, 1879, may be obtained from the fact that the number of panes broken was 38,649, and the weight of broken glass eighteen tons.
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