THE FLOODS OF APPLEBY - 20th Century

  ADDITIONS MADE:

  06.07.17. - The creation of separate pages for each century after the page had simply become too big - to read about the floods in the 19th, 20th and 21st century's follow the links below.

  12.06.16. - photograph of floods in 1960

  12.05.16. - further information regarding frequency of flooding and the years in which flooding occurred (see + in the list below showing the years in which flooding occurred).

  05.05.16. - accounts for 1936 and then of flooding and a death by lightning in 1912 + the 1970's 'Flood Siren'.

  18.04.16. - accounts for 1929 + 1947 + 1964.

  09.04.16. - accounts for 1930 + 1924 Christmas floods inc' the tragic death of Harry Whitehead + more detail about 1925 inc' a 'Daring Rescue'.

  16.03.16. - Partial re-write but now including several additional years when floods occurred and additional photographs of 1964, but in particular 1968 - many thanks to Maggie Clowes.

  21.02.16. - Commencement of new and dedicated page on 'The Floods of Appleby' - the section had become too large to be just contained within the 'Appleby' section.

 

  The historic town of Appleby lies in a loop of the river Eden in the Eden valley and in the relatively dry east of the county of Cumbria - it is a delightful town, set within beautiful countryside and is well worth a visit and/or used as a base to explore. You can now visit the castle (by guided tour at fixed times/appointment, speak with Tourist Information) and in equal time be within the national parks of the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales or the 'area of outstanding beauty' that is the northern Pennines.

    There may still be some, but certainly not many, floods from the 20th century that I have yet to unearth, but after much research I feel that the list must be close to being complete. However, flooding in this century was not necessarily excessive, albeit there were still plenty - but more a case of occurring on a regular basis!

  The floods of 1928 and 1968 are probably the two stand-out ones from the century and 1924-1931 was certainly a 'flood rich' period, whilst after 1936 the town entered a fairly settled period that was only broken by the terrible winter of 1947 and the autumn of 1954 which had two particularly wet spells in mid October and at the end of November, before a gradual return to more regular floods in the 1960's.

  From my research, below are the years during which flooding is known to have occurred:

C18th C19th C20th C21st 1733 ? 1815 + 1903 2004 1771 1817 1912 2005 (x3) 1775 1819 1916 + 2007 1790 1820 1924 (x2?) 2009 1792 1822 1925 2011 1794 1829 1928 (x3?) 2015 (x2) 1831 1929 1845 1930 (x2?) 1851 1931 1852 (x2) 1936 1855 (x2) 1947 (x2?) 1856 1954 (x4?) 1861 1960 1868 1964 1869 1965 + 1874 + 1968 1883 1974 ~ 1888 1979 + 1890 1982 + 1891 +(x3) 1987 + 1892 1990 1894 + 1995 (x2) 1895 + 1896 + 1898 (x2) 1899
(+) Smith and Tobin 1979 - 'Topics in applied geography, human adjustment to the flood hazard'. (~) Environment Agency - 'Eden Catchment Flood Management Scoping Report (Oct' 2005) Years annotated (+)(~) - I have yet to find a formal record/account for these years and hence no details appear below. Years annotated (?) - 1733 could be an earlier year - the rest appear in duplicate/triplicate in Smith+Tobin's analysis and need to be confirmed as a year with multiple floods.

  The list above represents 77 different flooding events in 60 years.

 

 

    1903 - 28th January    3 days of heavy rain.

  These floods were widespread and affected not just Appleby, but also Carlisle and others. At Ravenstondale on the 28th 4.11 inch (104.4 mm) of rain was recorded, it was a very wet day. The following is taken from the 'Manchester Courier and Lancashire Advertiser' of 28th January:

 

    190?    the undated postcard

  The postcard below (which also appears above) is possibly one of the floods that I have yet to find. The postcard appears to have been quite popular back in the day - but unfortunately there is nothing on the actual postcard to date it or the flood it depicts.

  I had reason to believe that it could have been from 1906, but this was a dry year in Cumbria and all that I do know is that the postcard that I have seen was sent during the year of 1921, so the flood will obviously pre-date that.

 

    1912 - 9-10th June    flooding and a death by lightning

  Violent thunderstorms wreaked havoc with people 'imprisoned' in their homes from the subsequent flooding with the horse fair washed out, but also the sad death of a gunner in the army camp at Brackenber - this account is from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, dated 12th June.

 

 

    1924 - Christmas Floods    Severe Local Floods and Remarkable Scenes - and a tragic death.

  Despite the Penrith Observer on 30th December describing these floods as 'Severe' and that there were 'Remarkable Scenes' there is no direct mention of flooding in Appleby. However, the flooding was so widespread in the Eden valley and nearby to Appleby that I feel confident enough to include this as a flooding event.

  Heavy rain had fallen on Christmas Day (Thursday) and then there was more on Boxing Day which then resulted in widespread flooding - but one curiosity is that on Christmas Eve the River Eden was frozen over in Appleby - and there lies a tragic story.

  In that same issue of the Penrith Observer the following death of a Harry Cockfield Whitehead was reported, it states:

  Harry Cockfield Whitehead, 18 years, drowned whilst trying to save his brother, Arthur Whitehead, 9 years.  -  the River Eden was described as being frozen over and a number of boys, including Arthur, were skating on the ice just below the bridge. The ice gave way and Arthur went into the water. Harry, who had not been present, heard of what was happening, went to the scene and jumped in to try and save Arthur. Whilst Arthur was rescued, Harry was drawn under the ice into 9ft of water and disappeared from view - his body was recovered 90 minutes later.

 

 

    1925 - 1st January    Worst in 70 years  ( **  and Newspapers)

  And following straight on from the floods at the end of 1924, flooding returned on New Year's Day. It was reported thus: 'In January floodwater reached a depth of 1.5m, flooding many properties and destroying the road surface at Chapel Street' -  EA, please do not re-write history, in 1925 they dealt in feet, not meters!

  However, this flood was reported in the newspapers and the following is taken from 'The Lancaster Evening Post' from the 5th January:

  'It is said to be 70 years since Appleby was flooded to the extent that it was on Friday. The River Eden passes round and through the town in an "S" bend and all the houses on both sides of the river were flooded.

  In those situated in the lowest position - on the Sands - the water reached to the window sills and much damage was done. A remarkable feature of the flood in the Butts was that it lifted over 50 yards of 4 in. thick clinker asphalt and deposited it in the cricket field many yards away. Roads in the vicinity were still blocked on Saturday night and council employees were busy putting up red lamps at the worst places so as to warn road users of the danger.'

  A report in the C+W Herald on the 3rd January 1925 stated that 'The Sands became part of the River Eden.' and that houses were also flooded on Chapel Street and Home Street.

  And these flood waters did not recede quickly as from the Penrith Observer a few days later we read about a daring rescue on the 5th in which it is stated that the Eden was still in flood. That rescue is worth repeating:

 

 

    1928 - 20th August    An Appleby Inundation

  In the report below on the floods of 1968 we read: 'The River Eden rose to its highest level since 1928.'   A fairly typical comment made in a weather report that has to make a comparison to some other previous similar event - they are quite invaluable observations, but cause more research - which is part of the enjoyment!

  That research takes us first to the 'British Rainfall Guides', but looking at 1928, these floods could have been at anytime during the year, let's not forget that 1928 remains the wettest ever year in the complete Appleby data set, but the most likely date for these floods was the 20th August -  and August was the wettest month of the wettest year and then finally a search of the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald confirms that belief.

  In the British Rainfall Guide for that year we read: 'The total recorded at Appleby was 8.89 inches or 269% of the average and as much as 2.87 inches fell on the 20th at this station. The percentage map was in many respects similar to that of August 1927 when the fall at Appleby was 7.75 inches or 235% of the average.'

  Unfortunately it does not mention that there was flooding in the town, but does say 'Flooding occurred at times, especially in the Border districts...' However, it was well reported in the C+W Herald, the account of which is:

  'An Appleby Inundation - Houses and shops flooded.'  Appleby and district suffered heavy damage by the flood on Monday night. About ten o'clock the River Eden began to rise and by midnight it had grown into a raging torrent. In Chapel Street, where the flood seemed to be worst, the tar macadam was ripped off the road by the force of the running water, and houses were flooded to the depth of four and five feet. The road on The Sands was flooded to an extent of six feet and when the wall which divides the bowling green and tennis courts from the road gave way it released an extra torrent of water which swept away the doors of Atkinson's garage opposite and carried away tins of petrol and oil. The damage to the garage is estimated at about £70. Considerable damage was of course done to the bowling green and tennis courts.

  The Co-operative stores and Police Station were surrounded and the manager of the stores was marooned in the shop until morning. A young man just reached the Police Station in time, and found himself a prisoner until the dark swirling waters subsided. P.C. Macdonald who was to have reported at the Police Station at 10 p.m. found that he could not reach his goal and therefore was exempt from his night's duty.

  Telephone communication was cut off and the flooded river extinguished the furnaces at the gasworks, thus cutting off the gas supply and making the rescuers' task more difficult. The garage of the King's Head hotel, like other premises, was flooded and one rescuer, clad in waders, failed to notice a submerged motor repair pit and to the horror of his fellows, he suddenly disappeared in the muddy depths. Luckily he was able to scramble out.

  Also reported on the same page of the C+W Herald was:-   'COUNCIL AND RELIEF FOR THE SUFFERERS' -  At the meeting of the Appleby Town Council on Wednesday night (22nd), Councillor Williamson said that, owing to the disastrous flood, there had been a great deal of suffering in the poorer parts of Appleby. He wondered if they, as a council, could do anything or set any machinery in motion that would relieve these distressed people. He thought some of those that had been lucky in the flood should help. Some people had suffered very badly and even if insured, he found that the insurance companies did not pay for damage to oil-cloth and wallpaper.

  Alderman Chatfield said it was usual for the Mayor to deal with these sort of things and he thought the matter should be left until the return of the Mayor. Those matters needed time and consideration.

  Councillor Parkin said the matter should be dealt with immediately. It was quite possible to deal with it in the absence of the Mayor.

  Alderman Chatfield - "I propose we leave it until the Mayor returns."

  Councillor Parkin - "It is a matter of urgency and I do not think there is any need for us to wait until the Mayor returns."

  Councillor Williamson said it was a matter of urgency and he thought it could be dealt with by the Deputy Mayor. Alderman Rigg proposed that the Council discuss the question in committee and this was agreed to.

  And it does not stop there as the C+W Herald also published a letter from a reader on the subject of the floods  -  what I find quite delightful about this letter is that it is from 'A. RATEPAYER'  It reads:

 'APPLEBY FLOOD VICTIMS'   - Sir, Will you kindly allow me space in your valuable paper to ask who is the acting sanitary inspector for the county town of Appleby, also the medical officer for the county, seeing that neither of these officials have taken any action up to the time of writing to alleviate the disgusting conditions under which the victims of Monday night's unprecedented floods are having to live? Most, if not all the houses have no other sanitary convenience than earth closets and as these were flooded out and into the houses, the consequences to any right thinking person are very obvious. Where are our Councillors? Are they more concerned with the flooded bowling green than the inhabitants of the borough they represent? - Yours, etc.'

  Clearly difficult times   - but on a lighter note, that week at Appleby cinema you had the following choice of viewing: Ken Maynard with his wonder horse, 'Tarzan' - in 'The Overland stage' and on the 31st August and 1st September twice a night, Milton Sills in 'The Silent Lover'.

  Finally, it should be made clear that this rainfall was not the result of a thunderstorm and was a 'normal' Atlantic depression', albeit for August, quite rare.

 

         1929 - 29th December    'and the game went on ... at least until they ran out of balls - should have used the boat!'

  The end of 1929 saw a period of very wet and stormy weather that 'Proved disastrous for Cumberland and Westmorland' but within the drama and anguish of the floods there was a touch of theatre.

  The following account is taken from the Penrith Observer dated 31st December under the headline 'The Local Floods, Appleby Houses Invaded':

  'The past weekend proved a disastrous one for Cumberland and Westmorland ... for gales and floods. At Appleby vigilant watchers were astir in the small hours of Sunday morning (29th) and about 5 a.m. the police with several assistants roused the residents in low lying parts of town.'

  The River Eden covered the main road and continued to rise very rapidly and houses, shops and garages were been entered. But with the timely warning given, furniture, goods and cars were moved to safety.

  At the Wesleyan church the boiler house was flooded and a boat was sailing along the front when the morning service should have been held. The flood reached its height at 11 a.m. and quickly subsided'

  The boat must have given the scene some sense of theatre, but to add a little more, I quite like this report from the Lancashire Evening Post (28th Dec') regarding the local football league and a match played at Appleby the previous Thursday (26th) and which shows that the Eden running high even before the rains and floods that were to follow:

 

 

    1930 - 14th January

  Refer to 'Time to Take Action' below - and this flood was reported in the Penrith Observer on the 21st January as:

 'As a result of the storm which raged along the Eden valley at the beginning of the week, serious floods were experienced in Appleby on Tuesday when the River Eden overflowed its bank for many miles. Considerable damage was done at Appleby ... houses were flooded. Most of the householders profiting from previous experience of floods, the last one so recent as a fortnight ago.'

  In the report the floods were described as an 'inconvenience' and that apart from The Sands, houses on Chapel Street were also flooded.

 

 

    Time to take Action  ( ^^ 1924-30 p.99)

  Like many other locations, the 1920's is the wettest decade in the Appleby rainfall records and with that in mind, flooding is likely to occur and it did. It prompted this response from the council:

  In accordance with notice of motion Mr. Chatterley proposed that the Health and Highways Committee be instructed to take immediate steps to obviate the possibility of further flooding in certain parts of the borough, and that their attention be drawn to the desirability of widening the river bed below the swings in the Butts. In September 1928, said Mr Chatterley he moved the same resolution, but the Highways committee had done nothing since then he knew of to minimise the flooding of the river bed in that part of the town, and he thought that now, when they had had another two floods, something should be done.

  He lived in the midst of the flooded area, but fortunately out of reach of the water and he had seen the results of the water getting into the houses. It was terrible. No sooner had they got the house dry from one flood when there was another.

  The floods seemed to be becoming more frequent, and one householder who had been there for 16 years up to 1925 told him that during that time there were no floods. In 1925 there was abnormal flooding, and then in 1929 and 1930 they again had floods. It should be made certain, while it was possible that these did not occur again.

  If they did not get floods for 16 years prior to 1925, why should they have them now?

  The Mayor (Mr. Langley) - "I can’t answer that." Laughter.

  Continuing, Mr. Chatfield said the rainfall was no greater now than it was then. They should turn to certain parts of the river and find the cause. The first cause was immediately above the bridge and the sooner the authorities and the landed proprietors there came to some agreement - and that would not be very difficult - the sooner and better the property would be protected. Behind the houses, immediately above the bridge were steps down to the river. He was told that there was six feet of soil over them. Also 60 tons of cement had been dumped in the river by the the County Council, and that must also be an obstruction.

  Mr. Chatterley went on to describe the floods of 29th December and 14th January and the points at which the water encroached, and said that if the councillors had been round the Butts and examined the embankment they would see where the surveyor had bared the old water weir immediately below the swings. At that point the weir was the waterline of the river 20 years ago, but the water was now six or seven feet higher than it was then. In the second flood the obstruction backed the water, which on the Sands at the Wesleyan Chapel was 1 ½ inches higher than on 29th December. In Chapel Street it was eight inches higher. If this flooding was dealt with by the General Purposes committee, which was a committee of the whole Council, it would be ventilated and they would get everyone’s opinion on it. Like the electricity scheme, it was not a matter which should be confined to one committee. He thought the matter should be before the General Purposes committee and not he Highways committee.

  Mr. Slack seconded and said he thought it was time something was done.

  Mr. Ewbank as vice-chairman of the Health and Highways Committee, said that every councillor shared Mr. Chatterley’s opinion as to the desirability of obviating the flooding, but they must realise that it was not confined to Appleby, but was general. The farmers in the lower reaches of the Eden Valley had suffered more with every flood than the borough had done. He objected strongly to the form of Mr. Chatterley’s resolution on the grounds that the word instructed was used. He suggested this should be “recommended”.

  After a long discussion it was decided on the motion of Mr. Parkin to pass the resolution in a modified form.

 

    1936 - 14th December    Floods fit for a King - No!

  "I proclaim that these floods are really quite regular and have a terrible sense of timing" - but quite typical of the folk of Appleby, they just got on with it, especially if it was for the king. However, it would have been nice to know what became of those folk that were left marooned - the account is from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intellingencer (15th Dec') and in which it also makes reference to a train derailment north of Kendal which was also attributable to the floods:

 

 

    1947 - January    floods follow the snow.

  The winter of 1947 is one of the most infamous ones as heavy snowfall caused major disruption and then with a quick thaw there was much flooding and Appleby and the Eden valley suffered quite badly.

  The following accounts are following the initial snow fall that was followed by days of 'incessant rain' at the beginning of January. The headline and article on the left are from the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, the one on the right from the Lancashire Evening Post (16th) - but the worst of the winter then followed after this!

  A severe cold spell commenced around the 21st January, lasted through February and the start of March and then dramatically broke with the on-set of a rapid thaw that caused severe flooding - I have yet to establish if Appleby flooded for a second time in March, but an article from 2008 written by the C+W Herald that compares the winters of 1947 and 1963, does not mention further flooding.

 

                                        

 

 

    1954  Four Floods in the Year    Eden Reaches Highest Level For Many Years.

  1954 is a really interesting year and the one and only time when there may have been four separate floods during the year. However, I was only aware of the one flood, in October, but 'Smith+Tobin 1979' make reference to there being four floods in the year.

  I have yet to confirm the dates of those other three events, but mid January looks a strong possibility as I know that there was flooding in the northwest of the UK. However, the autumn is the most likely period, especially when we consider that it is the 2nd wettest in the Appleby data set and one of just two to have recorded in excess of 500 mm. Also the one flood that I do know about (23rd Oct') barely registered at Kendal, which would suffer its worst flood since 1898 on 2nd December.

  Using the rainfall data from Shap demonstrates just how wet the year was, especially the autumn, but more pertinently on individual days and/or short periods, for comparison Appleby's rainfall totals for the same days are ib brackest:

  18th Jan - 3.40 inch   (0.24 in)          12th June - 3.21 inch   (0.0 in)          9th Sept - 3.15"   (0.53 in)          17-18th Oct had a '48 hour total of 6.00 inch'   (1.44 in)          23rd Oct - 3.00 inch   (1.24 in)             27th Nov - 2.53 inch   (1.24 in)          30th Nov - 2.75 inch  (1.19 in)

  And we read that 'During early December the unsettled weather continued and at Shap there was a fall of 6.32 inch for 1st-2nd, bringing the three day total (30th Nov - 2nd Dec) to 9.07 inch. (Appleby 2.22 in).

  All this meant that 30.36 inches (6.89 in)of rain fell on these 10 days, which is quite a remarkable 24.08% (15.5%)of the annual total for that year (126.04 inch). 1954 was one of the wettest years last century and with rain falling on 268 days in Shap (236 at Appleby), but to effectively have one quarter of the annual total fall on just 10 days is quite remarkable.

 

    23rd October 1954  

  The following report is from the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald on the 30th October:

 'Torrential rain on Saturday night caused the flooding of Knowles garage, Appleby and about 6.30 p.m. the fire brigade had to turn out to pump away the water. Houses in other parts of the town were flooded while at Coupland Hall and the adjoining cottage were flooded to a depth of 3Ft.

  Anxious householders and shopkeepers watched the Eden rise, overflowing the Sands and main road. The water reached the highest level it has been for some years. The bowling green and tennis courts were completely under water and not until 3 a.m. was there any sign of the water receding.'

  Quite clearly this was a bad year for flooding, I now feel certain that the first flood would have been in January, with one in each month of October, November and December.

 

    1960 - 2nd December    he's a very nice man, he's from the AA

  From the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, on Wednesday 2nd November there was a gale overnight into the 2nd and during the morning a Mr. Wright from Scattergate left for work and as he was driving past the Grammar School a tree fell down onto the bonnet of his car - he survived unhurt, the car did not!

  Winds on Great Dunn Fell were reported to have reached 90 Mph and as for the rain, this was heavy all day, finally easing in the late afternnon. The Eden was reported to have 'rose swiftly' to within a couple feet of the main road - but as the photograph shows, it continued to rise.

 

      1964 - December     Stormy Weather Wreaks Havoc - Mayor gives out free coal.

  This event was indeed a stormy occasion with winds gusting to 112 Mph on Great Dunn Fell and yet more flooding, The telephone exchanged flooded causing Appleby to be 'Cut Off', the new cricket pavilion that was under construction saw 'window frames, door frames and other timbers washed across the pitch' with water upto 3ft deep in 'dozens of properties' and the weight of traffic on Garths Head caused subsidence and a large rut appeared

  And more drama unfolded at nearby Brampton Towers where the roof of a poultry house belonging to Messrs. J.W. Bellas was blown off and wrecking the structure and caused the death of 400 point-of-lay pullets.

  Mrs. Isobel Bellas told the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald "It was terrible. It all happened in a few minutes. The building is a complete write-off" and added that the remaining pullets (2400) would probably have to be slaughtered as they would be no good for laying and there was no place to put them.

  Back in Appleby there was various traffic issues and I just love the photographs (provided by Maggie Clowes).

 

Scenes of the flooding in the town - December 1964   

            

  Below are several snippets from the reports that appeared in the C+W Herald:

                                        

 

 

    23rd March 1968 -     'Business as Usual'

  On the 'Appleby in Westmorland Society' website there is a fascinating account by Maggie Clowes regarding the floods of 23rd March 1968  -  the full account can be read here: Appleby Society    An abridged version along with some curious rainfall data is given below along with a little treasure trove of wonderful photographs.

  ^^   There is also an excellent first-hand account provided by Knowles, M. of 'J. Burne & Son' Sands garage, in a letter to Colonel & Mrs. Heelis dated 9th May and which was re-printed in the Appleby Society's newsletter (No. 51) - the letter is re-printed here, below the photographs of the floods.

  The account of the floods was found in a scrapbook compiled by Mrs Kath Smith which she kindly loaned to the Society  -  these floods were fairly well reported locally and particularly so due to the fact that it was this event that saw the bridge at Langwathby washed away  -  an account of which can be read here: Langwathby Bridge.

  On Saturday 23rd March 1968 there was a flash flood in Appleby; the river broke its banks at 5pm with the water starting to recede seven hours later. However, in that time Jubilee Bridge was badly damaged and people said they felt the St Lawrence Bridge “shudder”. At one point it wasn’t possible to cross the road because of the strong currents. Some businesses carried on regardless: the chip shop didn’t stop cooking chips, the pubs kept pulling pints and Burne’s Garage (actually on the Sands) continued serving petrol until 9p.m.

  DAMAGE OF £250,000, AT FLOOD-STRICKEN APPLEBY  -  Flood water swept through homes, shops and garages and the Sunday saw the start of a massive mopping-up operation at Appleby, where the damage was estimated to be in the region of £250,000. The River Eden rose to its highest level since 1928. All day the swollen river had been nearing danger level and by 4.30 p.m. it was swirling ominously at the pavement edge on the Sands. Then just before 5p.m. it gave way and the water spilled over the A66 road, flooding it to a depth of several feet. Residents on the Sands tried desperately to salvage cars and goods from their shops.

  About midnight the flood water reached its peak, and all low-lying ground on both sides of the river had been transformed into a swirling lake. The main road was completely inaccessible and traffic had to be diverted via Garbridge Lane and the Express Dairy. It was not until about 1a.m. that the waters began to recede, and then for the first few hours, only very slowly. It left a trail of broken wreckage and slime in its wake with pavements ripped up and walls knocked down  -  see photo.

  The flood water badly damaged the Jubilee Bridge, completely sweeping away the Bongate side and buckling the superstructure. Bystanders on the bridge over the Eden were worried about its safety when the archways practically disappeared, and the bridge started to shudder with the pressure of water.

  Several people were trapped by the rapidly rising water, including Mr Harry Horn and Mr Robert Hull, who own a coffee bar and sweet shop on the Sands. Luckily, their kitchen had a flat roof and they were able to climb out of the bathroom window and on to the bridge, via this roof.

  The bit that I particularly like myself is: BUSINESS AS USUAL - ALMOST  -  While many stopped work to watch the flood’s progress, some tradesmen battled grimly on, including the staff at Burne’s garage. They continued selling petrol until 9 p.m., when the garage was standing in 4 ft. of water! When the water became too deep to enter the office for change, they brought the till out on to higher ground and carried on from there. Mrs Marjorie Knowles, who is employed at the garage reported that the water reached nearly 5ft in depth in the lock-up garages. On Sunday morning, they hardly dare look in them, but the cars were not badly damaged and were left to dry out. “We got all the new cars out,” she said, adding that the staff took them to higher ground on Garth Head’s Road. She estimated the damage at around £1,000 and it just had to be the case that: Appleby’s only chip shop kept on frying until 9.30p.m. when the water was lapping around the counter and they were forced to close shop.

  The Bowling Green and Tennis Club ground was flooded to a depth of 5ft., and on Sunday morning the green still looked like a swimming pool and the tennis court - which was completely devastated, 'will be out of action for the whole season'. The football pitch was not only flooded, but was littered with debris from a wall which had collapsed with the pressure of the water in Chapel Street. A spokesman for the club said they anticipated that Saturday’s match would be still on if they could clear all the debris away in time. “It is going to take a lot of hard work,” he said ”but the soil is very sandy and the field should drain in time.”  -  did this match still go ahead?

  But what I find quite curious about this event is this: in 1968 there were two rain gauges in the town, one at the castle and the other at Highfield and this day in March was only the wettest day in Appleby at one of them! At Highfield 58.0 mm was recorded on this day and at Appleby Castle 50.8 mm, but the 12th September was the wettest day that year at the castle with 52.0 mm  -  how odd.

  ** 61 houses and 31 commercial properties were flooded.

  $$ The Jubilee bridge at Bongate was irreparably damaged ... the water stood three feet deep on The Sands and cars and vans floated about: one Mini took off down the river for an unknown destination (this information about the disappearing Mini is credited to Knowles, M. (2003) Letter to Colonel & Mrs Heelis dated 9th May 1968. In Newsletter, Appleby in Westmorland Society, no. 51).

 

Scenes of the flooding in the town - March 1968          -        damage to the road at The Sands and 'Do I risk or not?'

            

 

   Chapel Lane and the football pitch - in the picture on the left the old gas works can be seen in the background

            

 

   Down at The Sands

            

 

   Life goes on and the tidy up

            

 

   The car that was swept away  (^^)

            

 

   The letter to Col. Heelis

            

 

 

    1970's

  Somewhat bizarrely I have yet to find anything from this decade, not even a small reference, but I'm sure that there must have been something, most probably during the winter of 1974-75 (January 1975 the most likely).

  The vicar at St. Lawrence during the 1970's was Kenneth Cove and his wife, Judith, tells me that she remembers Ken getting phone calls from someone in a village further upstream telling him that flood water was on its way. She can not remember (but is going to try and check) who that person was and which village along with a month/year, but after taking the call Ken would go and ring the church bells as an early warning to the town. She also remembers having to take up flooring in the church following some flooding.

  If you know more, let me know - my e-mail address is at the bottom of the page.

 

 

    1990 - February    ( **   and C+W Herald)

  Reported thus: '13 residential and 16 commercial properties were flooded to a depth of 1m in The Sands area'.

  But the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald went to town on their reporting of the event, as can be seen in the clips below.

   The Report in the C+W herald

            

    Further Reports from the paper included:

 'Down on the Sands Mr Harold Bainbridge and his JCB was running a ferry service using the digger bucket. He had been out since 7am transporting sandbags and people. PC Dennis Noble said that numbers 7 to 11 in Chapel Street had been worst affected and some people had to be evacuated.

  Where the Eden loops around Appleby’s cricket and football pitches, the flood water had decided to take a short cut and was rushing across both pitches and through homes in Chapel Street. At one point 10ft. of the football pitch wall had to be bulldozed to allow the torrent to escape.'

  And then from the Cumberland News:

  'FOLK CAUGHT ON HOP AS WORST FLOOD HITS TOWN'   -'The huge mopping up operation was still underway in Appleby after it was hit by the worst floods in over 20 years. Thirty houses were flooded and pensioners stranded in upstairs bedrooms as water and mud poured into their homes at 7am on Tuesday. Many people were up all night after sirens sounded the alarm at 2am.

  Council workers worked through the night placing hundreds of sandbags at front doors in Chapel Street, Holme Street and the Sands. The National Rivers Authority has started a survey to find out why Appleby flooded and to plan future defence work.

  The Eden burst its banks at the town’s bowling green and swept down the main street. Electricity supplies were cut off, but have now been restored.

  Keith Morgan, the town’s Mayor, said the worst seemed to be over. He said the mayor’s emergency fund, not used since 1968, could be available for people who were not insured. Pensioner Dorothy Gasgarth said her flat on the Sands was ruined and the carpets finished.

  Tables and chairs floated inside the Grapes pub, but newsagent Jack Sutton still managed to deliver his papers on time even though his shop was under a foot of water by 3.30am. Peter Merton managed to save valuable antiques in his Bridgend shop after wrapping table legs and chairs in plastic bags.

  A police spokesman said they were the worst floods since 1968.'

 

 

    1995 - 31st January     these floods just don't have a sense of timing!! (**)

  A very wet month ended with flooding in the town on the 31st and on the same day there was a fairly major de-railment on the Settle-Carlisle railway line at Ais Gill due to flooding/landslip.

  ** 'Flooding In January just as work had begun on the flood alleviation scheme. Despite extensive sand-bagging 70 residential and commercial properties in The Sands and Chapel Street areas were affected'. The photo says it all.

 

More scenes of flooding in the town - 1995 and 2009    -    both appear to be in the 'typical' category for flooding in the area of The Sands

            

 

   © Darren Rogers 2016

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