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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 11:28 GMT
Storm victims remembered
A painting of the storm
About 130 ships were lost off the Kent coast in the 1703 storm
Thousands of sailors who lost their lives in a huge storm 300 years ago are being remembered in a memorial service.

Some 8,000 people are believed to have died around the UK in the storms of 26 November 1703 - about 2,000 of them off the Kent coast.

The storm tore through a flotilla of ships anchored off Deal and Ramsgate in what was supposed to be a safe haven.

Three naval warships were among 130 craft which sank in one night off Deal, where a two minute silence is being held on Wednesday.

Windmills destroyed

The storm of 1703 is considered by some weather experts to be the worst in European history.

The vast majority of the ships lost on the Goodwin Sands off Ramsgate and Deal were merchant craft but the major loss of life came on the navy ships.

When the bad weather first hit the fleet the ships were moved into apparent safety close to the shore overnight, only for the storm to move towards England and inland, destroying the ships on its way.

Artefacts rescued from shipwrecks
Artefacts rescued from the shipwrecks are on show in Ramsgate

The largest of those lost was the 70-gun warship Stirling Castle, the wreck of which was discovered by divers in 1979.

Artefacts rescued by divers from the ship and others which went down, are on display in Ramsgate's Maritime Museum.

Inland, an estimated 400 windmills were destroyed, many catching fire due to the friction of their rapidly-spinning sails.

The storm inspired writer Daniel Defoe's first book, The Storm, which he put together after travelling around England and Wales inspecting the damage.

It is being republished to mark the anniversary, having been out of print for almost a century.

Wednesday's ceremony is due to feature a procession through Deal before a service on the town's pier.

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30 Oct 00  |  UK News


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