The much anticipated storm of 27th October passed Aberystwyth with scarcely a ruffling. It had been vaunted as the greatest since 1987 and Michael Fish’s famous pronouncement that some woman was entirely deluded in her belief that a hurricane was on its way. In the event, the storm took a more southerly course and while trees were blown down and four lives lost elsewhere its impact on Aber was non-existent.
Not so last Saturday evening when the still leafy apple trees behind my house creaked and roared with the gale and the last bramleys thundered unceremoniously to the ground. I was relieved to find no trees uprooted the following morning.
The direction of the wind drove great seas across the bay at Aberystwyth, focussing their force especially at the northern end on the promenade. An occasional but exhilarating sight is the explosive force of great waves sending a sheet of spray right over the terraces houses from the Marine Hotel to Alexandra Hall. Some years ago I photographed such a scene on a sunny wintery morning. This time the height of the storm and tide came after dark.
But daylight revealed considerable damage to the promenade opposite the Marine Hotel with the white iron railings uprooted, still attached to their huge anchoring stones and twisted in the air. Where the edge stones of the promenade were displaced the sea made short work decorative sets and small paving slabs with which the prom has been refurbished in recent years. As the waves deposited a slew of gravel across the road they sucked back to the beach, taking the pointing, and whatever substrate secured these small paviors with them.
Cleanup commenced on Monday morning with the combined efforts of men with barrows and road sweepers large and small successively clearing a passage for cars. The handsome dragon seats all remained firmly anchored in place, but several appear to stand now not on paving but on a shingle beach, pockmarked by the tread of passers-by.
The Victorian blue and white timber and glass shelter is the most northerly building on the promenade, rashly placed, it would seem, on a projecting semicircular drum of masonry above the beach. But it has passed through the tempest unscathed. It seems that it is the lower parts of the prom which have failed to break the waves’ force and have proved the most vulnerable in this storm.