IT might be thirty years ago but for many the hurricane of 1987 will seem just a few years ago.

This month marks 31 years since the 1987 storm which spread devastation across Britain.

Essex was among a large number of areas badly hit by the extremely high winds

The Great Storm of 1987 wreaked havoc over the county, with boats, caravans and beach huts on the Tendring coast bearing the brunt of their 110mph force.

It was the worst to hit south east England for 300 years, leading to the deaths of 19 people and a litany of destruction.

Olivia Lewis, of Wellesley Road, Colchester, remembers a Chestnut tree crushed a number of cars.

“It was a truly terrifying night.

“Then we we got up and saw the devastation in the morning.”

Among the buildings damaged were the Blue Boar in Maldon, pictured here, while a number of trees fell on cars and into houses.

Some of the last remaining Elm trees not blighted by disease were among those felled by the hurricane winds.

And Earls Colne Fruit Farm feared it could be ten years before parts of the farm recovered.

More than 1,000 apple trees were knocked down by the strong winds and £20,000 of apples were lost in the storm.

Many will remember the eery stillness in the hours leading up to the storm, and weatherman Michael Fish’s famous last words when he assured the nation there was no such hurricane on the way.

Speaking previously, former Essex weatherman Terry Mayes recalled a “definite eeriness.”

“The air was very still and it was also humid. But, no, I had no idea, and nor did anyone else, that such a storm was coming towards us.”

The Met Office had known there were ferocious storms heading for France from the Mediterranean but many of the weather experts did not think it would make it across the channel.

Like most people, Mr Mayes slept through most of the storm. He awoke at 4am.

“Some slates had blown off our roof and we had a garden fence panel down, but nothing serious,” he said. “It wasn’t until I got into work that I saw real damage.”

Mr Mayes was then an accountant with Bracketts, a Colchester engineering firm. The winds had ripped off half of the factory’s roof.

The wind in that area had peaked at 75mph. On the coast it was half that again.

Many weather watchers believes 1987 triggered a dramatic change in UK weather.

Rainfall was very low for the next ten years and in 1988 average temperatures began to rise, and in the past 15 years so have sea temperatures.

January 1990 brought high winds (60mph gusts) and confirmed that Essex was getting windier.

That February the temperatures dropped and the blizzards came. The snow lay on the ground for more than a week.

“But it wasn’t a hurricane,” insisted Mr Mayes. “To be classed as a hurricane, the wind at its peak has to be sustained at a minimum 75mph. Yes, the winds reached much higher speeds than that, but they were not sustained.”