THIRTY years ago it bought death and destruction to our doorsteps, as the Great Storm raged, battering the south with ferocious 100mph winds.

Nobody had expected it – including weather forecasters, leaving all shocked when they awoke to scenes of devastation after the worst weather in more than 250 years had hit the region.

Even to this day, TV weatherman Michael Fish can be vividly remembered by many assuring viewers a hurricane was not on its way.

Across the UK 18 lives were lost, hundreds were injured and repair and clean-up costs totalled more than £1 billion.

In Christchurch two firemen, Ernest “Dave” Gregory and Graham White, were killed when a large tree crashed through their engine as they returned from a storm emergency.

In Petersfield a body was found in a Ford Capri crushed by a tree.

The strongest winds occurred during the early hours of October 16, 1987, but if the storm had peaked during a normal working day, it’s likely the death toll would have been significantly higher.

Fifteen million trees across the country were uprooted in gardens, woods, parks and streets – including 500,000 in Hampshire – among them some valuable specimens.

Historic landscapes such as the New Forest, Royal Victoria Country Park and Exbury Gardens were left scarred, while the 93-year-old Shanklin Pier on the Isle of Wight was smashed to pieces.

Cars were destroyed, roofs were ripped from buildings and fallen trees blocked railways and roads, tearing down telephone lines as they crashed to the ground.

More than 50,000 Hampshire homes were plunged into darkness as power supplies were hit.

A house collapsed under the force of the winds in Bridge Terrace and an elderly couple, like many others, narrowly escaped death when a tree fell on their house in City Road.

Nineteen residents were led to safety by firemen from a block of flats in Nashe Way, Fareham after the roof blew off and a balcony crumbled, while a four-storey block of flats collapsed in Lee-on-the-Solent.

A number of people were rescued from a two-storey block of flats in Cliff Terrace, Barton on Sea.

Scores of boats across the coastline were ripped from their moorings and containers in Southampton docks were thrown around like toy bricks.

The brand-new tennis centre in Nursling was blown down and Itchen Bridge was closed due to safety concerns.

Two people were arrested amidst the mayhem, accused of attempting to steal a bed from Allied Carpets in Commercial Road after its windows had blown through.

Five Southampton schools were forced to close due to storm damage.