21 May 1950: The day the tornado came

Fri 14 Feb, 2014

This picture from the report shows a demolished bakery at Linslade. The report was printed by Marshall & Diment, Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, and acknowledges the use of pictures from the Daily Mirror, News Chronicle, The Bucks Advertiser and Planet News Limited.

With the current weather testing the resources of emergency services, local authorities and numerous other organisations, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has dusted off a fascinating public document from its archives.

It’s a detailed report compiled by Edward George Hobbs, Chief Fire Officer of what was then called Buckinghamshire County Council Fire Brigade, which was published after a tornado swept through Buckinghamshire 64 years ago. Click here to see the document.

Entitled “Emergency Operations of the Fire Brigade following the Tornado which severely damaged Properties in the County on Sunday, May 21st, 1950”, it charts the tornado’s 12-mile journey from Dunsmore, about a mile south of Wendover, to a point between Leighton Buzzard and Heath and Reach.

More than 200 properties were damaged, 71 of them severely, and 113 members of brigade staff were involved in the clear-up operation, along with 98 civilians.

Worst-hit areas were Wendover, Aston Clinton and Linslade, which was part of Buckinghamshire until the Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire boundary changed in 1965.

Cars, animals and trees were lifted into the air and dropped “some considerable distance” away, properties were stripped of their roofs and a spout of water 250 feet high was seen on the Grand Union Canal at Wendover.

Mr Hobbs said in the report: “It may well be gathered from the instances quoted above that the appearance of the affected areas shortly after the passing of the tornado was reminiscent of a high explosive or flying bomb incident.”