A 'tornado' tore through a boatyard, sending boats flying into the air over the weekend.

Richard Attwell was in the office of West Solent Boat Builders when the gate flew open and stones were blown into the air by the fierce wind.

He quickly put on his waterproofs and went outside to find an entire row of fibreglass and wooden dinghies had been turned upside down.

The tornado lasted for about 20 seconds but in that time damaged 20 boats at the business Keyhaven near Lymington for 50 years.

It struck at 9.45am on Saturday when fortunately nobody was outside in the yard.

Richard is owner of the business that maintains and stores boats as well as craning them in and out of the water.

He said: “It was raining heavily and I was inside then noticed the gate swing open violently and stones started flicking up.

“I put on my coat then went outside and saw what it had done to a row of dinghies.

“We have three rows of dinghies and it was only the middle row that was affected, which suggests it was a tornado.

“About 20 dinghies were damaged, with four quite badly.

“The business has been here for 50 years and nothing like this has ever happened before.

“I didn’t actually see the funnel shape of a tornado as you do on the TV, but apparently they are quite common in this country but we just never usually see them.”

On average England is hit by about 34 tornadoes a year – which works out at 2.2 per 10,000km sq.

In 2005 a twister in Birmingham that recorded speeds of 130mph injured 19 people, causing £40million of damage and tearing up more than 1,000 trees.

And, a year later, a tornado in Kensal Green, North-West London, wrecked property worth £10million in just two minutes.