The storm ripped across the south-west of England
leaving devastation in its wake. Buildings were torn apart,
trees uprooted and livestock drowned as rivers rose and overflowed
their banks. Sea walls were breached, piers and quays were
swept away as tides reached unheard of heights. Wrecked vessels
littered the coasts of Hampshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
At Portland there were scenes of destruction and misery as
huge seas swept over Chesil Beach and crashed down on the
village of Chesil, demolishing more than thirty houses and
damaging a hundred others so badly that they were uninhabitable.
Twenty five Portlanders drowned in the deluge, some buried
under their homes, others swept away by the sea. The ferry
between Portland and the mainland was washed away, as were
the boats and nets (and consequently the livelihoods) of the
local fishermen. In the days which followed, not only were
the Portlanders burying their own dead, but also the bodies
of shipwreck victims cast up by the waves.
Seventeen drowned when the West Indiaman 'Colville',
outward bound from London, foundered. At least this vessel's
fate was known. Another ship went down off Portland in that
terrible storm - 'a large vessel of 500 ton burthen, name
unknown, went down and the whole crew perished' - and it is
likely that those waiting at home never knew the fate of the
men who failed to return from the sea.
One 80-ton sloop, the 'Ebenezer', on voyage
from Plymouth to Portsmouth with government stores, was flung
so high up on Chesil Beach that it proved easier to haul her
to the top and down the other side for relaunching once repairs
were carried out. Although her Captain lost his life in the
gale the rest of the crew survived.
At Fleet, enormous seas practically engulfed
the tiny village, knocking down its church and several cottages.
Here, the 'Carvalho' laden with rum and cotton, was lost with
all hands. A little to the west a Danish brig, cargo fruit,
was driven ashore. Four of the five man crew were rescued.