Saturday, 13 February 2010

The hurricane - of 1882

A storm swept over Stornoway and the Island of Lewis on the evening of Sunday [1 October 1882], and between eight and nine o'clock at night a perfect hurricane raged from the south-west. It was soon observed that the force of the gale told upon the ships in the harbour, the whole of which speedily began to drive, and some of them threw up signals of distress, but no assistance could be rendered to them. About half-past eight o'clock the barque JOHANNES KOSTER, of Stralsund, with timber, from Demerara for the harbour, drove ashore. The barque ELLEN, of Chester, which put in during the afternoon for shelter, and laden with timber, from Norway, followed soon after, and drove ashore within a few feet of the German barque. While driving the crew of the ELLEN cut the mainmast, and it went by the board, carrying with it, the mizenmast and foretopmast. In the afternoon the brig LADY HEAD, of Aberdeen, bound from Archangel to Glasgow with tar and pitch, put in for shelter and anchored outside Goat Island. She was exposed to the full force of the gale, and she drove on the rocks southward of Goat Island. A boat put off from Newton and rescued the crew: the ship has since become a total wreck. The barque ROWENA, of Aberdeen, from Sundswall for Greenock, with timber, also drove a considerable distance, and touched the end of Goat Island, but apparently without doing any damage. The mail steamer LOCHIEL attempted to tow her off yesterday morning without success. The steamer RIVER LAGAN, of Glasgow, which put in at Stornoway with her propeller blades gone, also drove right across the harbour, and struck the schooner BESSIE, of Arbroath, and broke one of her stanchions. The yacht, SUNBEAM, belonging to Mr. Hodge, supervisor, drove opposite the Imperial Hotel, and is seriously damaged. Two large herring fishing boats, and a large number of pleasure and small fishing boats have been sunk, driven ashore, or broken to pieces. The breast wall alond the south beach has been broken down by the sea in several places, and the whole of South Beach Street was covered with boats, wrecks of boats, pieces of timber, and other debris: and a number of houses were flooded. At the fishing stations of Portnaguran, 13 miles from Stornoway, three large herring fishing boats, which arrived late on Saturday night from Loch Hourin, laden with cargoes of herring, and were left at anchor, have totally disappeared: it is supposed they were driven to sea. At Bayble five herring fishing boats are ling fishing boats there are completely destroyed.

Source: Shipping Intelligence, LL, No. 21,352, London, Thursday October 5 1882.
NMRS, MS/829/69 (no. 3309).

(through RCAHMS/Canmore)


  1. Good read and yet another reminder how perilous life can be on rhe seas

  2. The Stornoway Historical Society has a photograph of the aftermath.

  3. Are there any meteorological stats available concerning this event?

    Very interesting Al.

  4. @Lady GarGar I doubt it. The weatherstation at the airport obviously wasn't there in 1882, as the airport didn't open for another 55-60 years. Have contacted Met Office for assistance, am awaiting reply.

  5. Just a thought, the NLB were inveterate log keepers. There might be lighthouse logs extant which record the storm

  6. Can I download a photo as a comment- if so how?
    Maybe should change my name to Dinosaur?

  7. The weather station at Lewis Castle Gardens recorded the following data on 1 October 1882

    Wind SE force 4-5 (11-21 knots)
    Barometer 28.82 inches (975.95 mb)
    Wind SE force 6 (22-27 knots)
    Barometer 29.2 inches (988.82 mb)

    Read at 9pm:
    Maximum temperature 64F (17.8C)
    Minimum temperature 45F (7.2C)

    Barometer at 5.15pm 28.48 ins (964.43mb)
    Severe gale commenced 3pm, moderated at 9pm

    With thanks to Lynne Chambers at Met Office, Edinburgh

  8. The weather data does not match Hurricane conditions which there undoubtedly were