Great Storm 1987
Outside the Three Horseshoes
Pub plays its part
By Dudley Clarke
I was the landlord of the Three Horseshoes in Charsfield at the time and living above the pub with my then partner, Hilary.
I remember waking up in the early hours of the morning, wind howling, additional noise levels deafening, windows rattling, curtains buffeted by the wind forcing its way through the ageing frames.
We quickly dressed and gingerly made our way down stairs, no lights, howling winds creating a frightening and scary noise.
We lit some candles and ventured to the windows, seeing very little in the darkness, but aware of some large amounts of debris being thrown in the air.
Before: The Three Horseshoes' garden
No electrics, no radio, but yes, let us try the car radio.
I made my way to the back door, opened it and hastily slammed it shut. It was far too dangerous to venture outside in the darkness.
At least the tea pot wasn't damaged
Luckily we used cylinder gas so made a pot of tea. As the time moved on, darkness receding, we were able to see the dramatic picture of the high winds, floating debris and a number of trees in our orchard uprooted, as were some in the front of the pub, and across the road in the fields.
We found a battery operated radio and quickly realised the situation we were in. Soon someone knocked on our door, pleading for help.
To cut a long story short, by 9am we were providing tea, coffee and breakfasts to a large number of residents in the village.
After: The pub garden loses a tree
As the morning progressed it became obvious that Charsfield was cut off from the outside world. No telecommunications, trees uprooted everywhere, no electricity and certainly no vehicle routes out of the village.
Everybody rallied and all houses in the village were visited to check that everyone was ok, especially the elderly.
Local farmers dropped off milk, vegetables, fresh fruit, eggs and in one case, some game.
Hilary and I declared the pub 'open house' and provided food and beverages throughout the day and into the evening. Luckily our cellar was well stocked, so a serious and frightening incident was lightened by Tolly Cobbold ales and some good wines.
Damage to various parts of the village was considerable.
Post storm party at the Three Horseshoes
However the spirit of the inhabitants kept morale up and everyone became a team member, using their particular expertise to repair, replace or discard to return the village to normal.
Three days of living 'rough' certainly created many new friendships.
Yes, it was horrendous, but the true British spirit prevailed. In fact as I write this missive, I must admit that it was a tremendous experience to watch so many people put their heart and soul into the recovery process.
last updated: 19/03/2008 at 12:25