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Hurricane Bertha winds smash into country fair at Willesborough Windmill in Ashford

By Sam Lennon

The effects of Hurricane Bertha ravaged a country fair, demolishing gazebos and leaving a powerful steam engine stuck on sodden ground.

Savage wind and rain crashed on Ashford's Willesborough Windmill annual country craft and heritage fair this morning.

Five gazebos were wrecked by the gale force gusts.

Volunteers struggle to keep gazebos in place during the Hurricane Bertha winds.

John White, of organisers Friends of Willesborough Windmill, said: “The wind lifted the sheeting of the gazebos even though they were nailed down. Five were knocked over and wrecked.”

The century-old Burrell engine, brought to the event for display, couldn’t climb a slope because the grass was so wet.

Volunteers unhooked its trailer so it could gradually reverse back down. Mesh was also placed under the wheels to give them more grip.

Mr White said; “It was slipping on the grass, like a car on snow. It couldn’t move forward at all. The driver was in that situation for a quarter of an hour.”

The powerful steam engine, left trapped by the effects of Hurricane Bertha.

The weather was so severe that stallholders packed up before the event was halfway finished.

Mr White’s wife Pat, also from FWW,, said: “This was another event ruined because of of Hurricane Bertha.

“The weather was totally extreme. The rain was coming down horizonally.

“We’ve now offered stallholders free pitches for next years’ event.

“There is nothing you can do about the weather.”

Hurricane Bertha had hit the Caribbean on Monday last week before dissipating over the Atlantic.

But its stormy remnants reached Britain on early today, causing chaos in several parts of the country.

Kent got its share with flooding in places such as Sittingbourne.

The engine that got into trouble at Willesborough was a steam traction engine, the type used for tasks such as road rolling, harvesting and threshing.

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