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The Piccadilly Tornado
Scene of central London's most destructive tornado!
In 1905 the infamous St James Hall was demolished here and renowned architect Richard Norman Shaw (1831-1912) designed the facade for the then new Piccadilly Hotel - his last major project.
A report from the Times said of a weather phenomenon: On October 22nd 1926 at about 8.15pm, in pouring rain, a fearsome gust of wind ripped through the capital from Victoria to Euston station. The areas around Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus were especially badly hit. The roof was lifted off a labour exchange in Great Marlborough Street, narrowly missing one man walking by. There was a terrific crash behind me and I just escaped being crushed by a great mass of debris, Mr Maurice Kaizer told The Times. Amazingly no one was seriously injured or killed, although people were swept off their feet and a taxi was blown several yards down a road.
Shop windows were forced in, electric signs, blinds, chimney pots and huge pieces of masonry of all kinds and projecting portions of buildings were swept away by the gale, reported The Times.
There was pandemonium at The Piccadilly Hotel, where the front doors were blown up by the tornados blast. The wind howled down the lobby and the next thing there was general confusion, said a spokesman for the hotel. The tables at which people had been dining were swept clear of linen, plates and food. Carpets blew up from the floor, and the winds rushed down the chimneys bringing with it a cloud of soot. People were smothered in soot and food.