On this day in history : 21st May 1950 – Violent storms and a tornado sweep across parts of Southern England, causing devastation and the death of three people….

It was a Sunday afternoon….intense dark clouds were seen accumulating between 2.30pm and 4pm over Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and the Chiltern Hills – and then the thunderstorms broke out…. But worse was to come, as a tornado formed, which first touched down at Missenden in the Wendover Valley…. Uprooting trees on its way it then changed direction towards the town of Wendover – ripping tiles from the roofs of houses as it passed through….

The tornado was to sweep through the counties to the north of London beginning in Buckinghamshire, travelling as far as Cambridgeshire before eventually dying out in North Norfolk…. Its path, at least 66 miles long, is still the longest tornado trail on record in England – its duration, at 2.5 hours, is the longest lasting on record in Europe….

Complete streets of houses lost roof tiles, torrential rain then pouring into the properties…. In Linslade village, Buckinghamshire, approximately 200 houses were damaged, 50 severely…. A shop in Leighton Buzzard was struck by lightening and set ablaze…. Hailstones broke windows, damaged crops, killed poultry and blocked the road at Oakley, Bedfordshire – where they lay a foot deep…. A double decker bus in Ely, Cambridgeshire, overturned….

Many people were made homeless….the Ministry of Supply had to issue some 450 tarpaulins to cover damaged roofs…. Parked cars were lifted up by the tornado – as were horses and cattle…. People were injured and three people lost their lives…. Two, Frederick Cast and James Perry, were struck by lightning in Kempston, Bedfordshire, as they ran for shelter – whilst three others with them were hospitalised…. 8-year-old Jennifer Margaret Reeves was swept away by flood waters and drowned….

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