Royal Charter Storm

The Royal Charter Storm of 25 and 26 October 1859 was considered to be the most severe storm to hit the British Isles in the 19th century, with a total death toll estimated at over 800. It takes its name from the "Royal Charter", driven by the storm onto the east coast of Anglesey, Wales with the loss of over 450 lives.

The storm followed several days of unsettled weather. The first indications were seen in the English Channel about 3 p.m. on the 25th, when there was a sudden increase in wind speed and a shift in its direction. There was extensive structural damage along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall. The storm drifted northwards, hitting Anglesey by about 8 p.m. and not reaching maximum force at the River Mersey until midday on the 26th, then continued northwards to affect Scotland. The winds reached force 12 on the Beaufort scale and were well over 100 mph. At the Mersey a wind force of 28 lbs to the square foot was measured, more than ever previously recorded.

On the north coast of Anglesey, where the "Royal Charter", a steam clipper, was approaching the end of her voyage from Melbourne to Liverpool, the wind at Point Lynas changed direction to ENE at 10 p.m. on the 25th and rose to gale force. By 10 p.m. the wind had reached force 10 and continued to increase, reaching force 12 by midnight. It continued to blow at force 12 until the afternoon of the 26th.

The "Royal Charter" was driven ashore on the east coast of Anglesey just north of the village of Moelfre in the early hours of the morning of the 26th, eventually being smashed to pieces against the rocks, with the loss of over 450 lives. A total of 133 ships were sunk and another 90 badly damaged. The death toll was estimated at around 800, including some people killed on land by falling rocks and masonry. Twice as many people died in these two days as had been lost at sea around the British Isles in the whole of 1858. There was extensive structural damage to many buildings, with the west coast of Great Britain being most severely affected.

This storm had an effect on the development of the Meteorological Office as Captain Robert FitzRoy, who was in charge of the office at the time, brought in the first gale warning service in 1860 to prevent similar tragedies.

ee also

*List of United Kingdom disasters by death toll

References

*cite book|author=Alexander McKee|title=The golden wreck: the tragedy of the "Royal Charter"|publisher=Souvenir Press|year=1986|id=ISBN 0-285-62745-7


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