Nostlagia: Batten down the hatches

A car boards the ferry heading for South Queensferry in 1953

A car boards the ferry heading for South Queensferry in 1953

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WINTER weather usually means icy winds, frozen hail and the occasional blizzard of snow, but earlier this week North Berwick harbour was blasted by a far more ferocious storm front.

Strong winds and rough seas left the area battered, with several ships destroyed and even a 15-metre stretch of the harbour wall at North Berwick being washed away, and more stormy weather is predicted to hit the area this weekend.

Fallen masonry damages this car in 1968

Fallen masonry damages this car in 1968

While such severe storms are thankfully rare, the Capital has seen more than its share over the years. Even in the high winds and ferocious waves that battered the Forth in January 1953, the ever reliable ferry crossing was kept up – although it would have taken a brave soul to drive on to the boat under the spray from the ferocious storm.

In October 1967, the promenade at Portobello suffered similar damage to that seen in North Berwick, when stormy seas washed away a large section. Workmen were quickly on hand, though.

The following January, however, more high winds hit the city, and gale force winds led to the dramatic collapse of a chimney in Balfour Street, with the fallen masonry damaging cars on the street below and trapping 34 people – including ten children – on the top floor of their tenement for nearly five hours before fire crews were able to rescue them. The ferocious weather also saw the closure of the Cramond ferry.

It was the city centre which bore the brunt of bad weather in January 1978, with the windows of Richard Shops’ Hanover Street/Princes Street branch blown out by the storms.

In December 1979, the weather was so ferocious that it caused part of a chimney to crash through the roof of the Royal Bank of Scotland building on The Mound.