James Stevens recorded local January weather in his Diary…
1895 Tuesday 8th – Snowy : Monday 21st – Hard north wind, two fishermen drowned at St. Ives : Sunday 27th – Six inches of snow.
1899 Sunday 1st – Rough weather : Saturday 21st – Very rough.
1907 Sunday 27th – Last Sunday I saw a little snow on the beacon that fell there 24 days before.
But he also wrote…
Great tidal wave on the east coast, Scarborough etc., doing great damage to piers etc. (Monday 9th January 1905)
Here are some extracts from a report in The Times newspaper on that day…
A north-westerly gale raged in the North sea in the early hours of Saturday morning… The high wind kept the outgoing tide in the Thames and Medway estuary, and at dead low water in Sheerness Harbour on Saturday morning there was 8ft of water above the normal height at this stage.
At Dover the wind blew with the force of a hurricane… Following this at midday there was a high tide in the Channel, the water rising 7ft above the normal. There were some remarkable scenes round the docks, where the water flowed over the quays into the roads… Some of the landings at the piers were practically under water, and the shipping presented a curious spectacle riding high above the quays.
The tide at Lowestoft yesterday morning was the highest experienced for years. Huge waves broke over the sea-wall, and houses were flooded to a depth of 3ft and 4ft, so that people had to be rescued from upper windows in boats. In one house a woman lay dead and the water reached the coffin.
At Cleethorpes the tide broke down parts of the new sea-wall of concrete, carried away large quantities of sand-backing, twisted rails, scattered wagons, and broke up scaffolding. It swept over the old promenade, flooded the shops, and tore up the surface of the carriage-drive. A codfish was caught in Dolphin-road. The new sea-wall which is being constructed between West Harlepool and Seaton Carew has been partially wrecked, several portions, varying in length from 30 to 100 yards, being broken to pieces like pie-crust.
The damage at Scarborough was very severe. The gale began on Friday evening, when the wind blew with such force from the north-north-east. As the night advanced the wind veered round to the north-north-west, and caused a very heavy sea, the full effect of which was felt between midnight and 5’oclock on Saturday morning when it was high tide. With such a sea it was expected that the North Promenade Pier, in its very exposed position, would suffer somewhat, but people were not prepared for what daylight revealed. It was then reported that the pier had been swept away. Thousands of people quickly visited the North Foreshore-road, where an extraordinary scene awaited them. All that remained of the North Promenade Pier was the pavilion end. The intervening stretch of 800ft of deckway had been bodily lifted apparently by a sea of gigantic strength and had been dashed to pieces. The sands were strewn with the wreckage – timber and iron framework – and many poor people were quickly gathering sacks, baskets, and aprons full of firewood. It was a godsend to them, but a serious matter to Mr. William Morgan, the mayor of Scarborough, who bought the pier by public auction for £3,500 last September and had not got it insured. Only recently, it is stated, he refused £6,000 for his bargain. (From: ‘Gale and High Tide’. The Times. Monday 9th January 1905, Issue 37599, page 5)
So not exactly the “tidal wave” James reported, but probably what we’d call a ‘storm surge’ today.
Visit Stories from Scarborough to read more about the Pier, and to see some ‘before and after’ pictures.