"Storm Force shows how our gale-lashed island has been spared by the wind-in more ways than one."— Shooting Times & Country Magazine

Storm Force

How Britain Has Been Forged by the Wind

Andrew Beattie

Britain is the windiest country in Europe. The devastating storms of the winter of 2013-4 saw houses collapse into the sea in Norfolk and, on the other side of England, the loss to ferocious waves of a stretch of the main rail line into Devon and Cornwall. Elsewhere in the country such weather is almost routine. Westerly gales regularly smash against the coast of Scotland, creating spectacular natural features such as the Old Man of Hoy on Orkney. Along many other stretches of coastline, wind and waves have created a gentler landscape of beaches backed by sand dunes that provide homes for unique wildlife species.

But it is not just the British landscape that has been forged by the wind. Ever since the fleet of the invading Romans was broken up by storms on the shore of Kent, gales have left their mark on Britain’s sense of itself as a nation: Daniel Defoe’s The Storm, which chronicled the impact of the disaster of 1703, is widely regarded as a pioneering piece of journalistic reportage; in 1953 a tidal surge caused untold misery along the east coast of England and precipitated the construction of the Thames Barrier, while in October 1987 millions of trees were uprooted across southern England during the “Great Storm”, causing an ecological catastrophe whose impact is still evident today.

Yet wind has had positive effects too: in the eighteenth century early venture capitalists used wind pumps to drain the Fens and transform marshland into fertile farmland—and in doing so became the forerunners of those who now claim that wind energy can provide us with a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
Storm Force looks at all aspects of the wind in Britain. From the development of the scientific understanding of storms to their representation in literature, art and music, from the destruction of the storm-tossed Spanish Armada to the devastation wrought by tornadoes, and from the early development of windmills to the contemporary furore surrounding wind turbines, this book shows how the wind has had a surprising and profound impact on Britain’s landscape, history, wildlife, economy and culture.

Andrew Beattie has written for Rough Guides, the Independent on Sunday, and the journal Contemporary Review. He has also contributed to programmes on BBC Radio 4.


Buy now

288 pages February 2016 ISBN: 9781909930377