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50 years ago in Eccles: Gale-force storms batter town


With the torrential rain and gales that have hit the area over the past week it only seems fitting to tell this story of storms that ripped across Eccles 50 years ago causing considerable damage and road closures throughout the Borough.

The first indication of trouble came on the evening of Thursday 28 November 1965 when gale force winds hammered shops and houses in the area.

At Patricroft the corner window of Harry Jacobs furniture store at the corner of Liverpool Road and Lewis Street was ‘plucked’ from its frame and was smashed to pieces across the road and pavement.

A policeman was called in to stand guard over the exposed goods on display until emergency shuttering could be found.

Across the road at a unnamed grocers shop the chimney stack crashed through the roof, with rain pouring in through the hole obliterating the shop’s goods.

At the nearby Ellesmere Inn on Liverpool Road, slates were blown from the roof and rainwater seeped through into the bedrooms. The licencee and his family were advised by the police to sleep downstairs for safety whilst they repaired the blown fuses in the cellar.

The window of Parker Bradburn’s cake shop facing Eccles Town Hall had its window cracked by the force of the wind. Eccles Pet Shop, across the road from the train station, had a window cracked that had to be removed for the animals’ safety.

Even Green Lane police station was to suffer damage when the windows of the CID offices were blown in causing shattered glass to scatter over the tables.

Just two days later, on Saturday 30 November 1965, the Eccles and Patricroft Journal reported that a freak electrical storm hit Eccles with vivid flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and a heavy fall of hail that brought traffic to a standstill as the hail turned to slush and the temperature dropped to freezing point.

In various parts of the town electrical lights flickered and some readers reported that their television pictures were affected – for those watching the newly installed BBC 2 there was a complete power breakdown as the transmitter was put out of action, such was the ferocity of the storm.

PICS/VIDEO: Thunder and lightning split the sky in Salford storm (July 2015)

PICS/VIDEO: Lightning breaks in Salford thunderstorms (August 2015)

Houses had roof slates ripped off and television aerials were left scattered on the ground in Ellesmere Park.

As the temperatures continued to drop Eccles Corporation Highways Deparment were called into action and 200 tonnes of salt and sand was spread onto roads in the Borough in order to prevent further road accidents.

So it would appear that these rainstorms are not quite as rare as the news media might have you believe. Let’s just hope that the unseasonal electrical storms are kept at bay for a while longer.

Main image: Steven Broadhurst via Flickr

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Tony Flynn

SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.