11 March 2014

Remembered

The Sheffield Flood - March 11th 1864
The Bursting of the Dale Dyke Dam (March 11th 1864)
One hundred and fifty years ago tonight, disaster struck the city of Sheffield and its north western suburbs. March 11th 1864 was the night of The Great Sheffield Flood. and quite shamefully - in terms of national consciousness - this terrible disaster is now  almost lost in the annals of Victorian England's history. If it had happened anywhere near London - everybody would know about it.

In the days leading up to the disaster there had been heavy rain. From the moors above Bradfield small streams gushed their way towards the Dale Dike Dam - only recently constructed to create a massive reservoir that would supply clean water to the city's burgeoning industries and its growing population.

Civil engineering could sometimes be an inexact science back then - especially when profit hungry private businesses got involved. Needless to say, the dam was breached and with very little warning an estimated three million cubic metres of water surged down the Loxley Valley all the way to Malin Bridge, Hillsborough and beyond. This roaring torrent destroyed six hundred homes and killed two hundred and forty one people.

This evening, I say a silent prayer for all the lost ones - the babies, the small children, the mothers, the fathers, The Spooners, The Websters, The Armitages, The Coggans, The Gannons - all good Yorkshire working folk who paid the ultimate price and I remember John Turton of Owlerton who was my age and little Thomas Elston of Neepsend who was only two weeks old. All gone - but not entirely forgotten.
Dale Dyke Memorial plaque
If you would like to know more about The Sheffield Flood - go to Mick Armitage's website.

13 comments:

  1. And how many times since have short cuts been taken with dams?

    Thanks for the history lesson, sobering though it was.

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    1. I wouldn't want to live in the shadow of a dam - unless it was with Charlize Theron and Halle Berry.

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  2. Living in hillsborough, I have always read with interest about the flood which swept a few feet away from our house
    I am surprised there are not more tributes

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    1. There is a rather pathetic "monument" by some new riverside flats at Shalesmoor, It is an insult to the dead and those who were left behind.

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  3. A sad reminder of this disaster.
    I never realised that so many died. It is a miracle that more weren't killed.

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    1. Fortunately, the village of Low Bradfield was evacuated minutes before the first signs of leakage turned into a torrent.

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  4. My mother-in-law (who comes from Thurnscoe and lived in Wath-upon-Dearne until she moved to Ripon a few years ago) often says things like that, that if anything would have happened further down south, nearer London, the news would have been full of it.
    Your blog now is the first place I ever hear about the Sheffield Flood. So many lives that could have easily been saved!

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    1. In the beauty stakes, Thurnscoe and Ripon are poles apart. I am glad that there's now one person in Germany who has heard of The Sheffield Flood. Are you better yet Arian?

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    2. A little, but still not well enough to go out and enjoy all that wonderful sun. Just this morning I heard that we're in for a wet and cold week next week. Why couldn't I have been ill then, and be fine now?!
      Moving to Ripon was the best thing my mother-in-law ever did! Wath was alright, I suppose, but she is now only a 5-minute-drive from her daughter, and has a place just the right size for her.

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  5. Thanks , always amazed how little we know about our own history - it's the first time I've heard about this. I'm with Hippo too, even nowadays dams are not always the 100% safe structures they should be.

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    1. You must have been wagging it when your History teacher covered The Sheffield Flood - up on a slag heap training your pet kestrel!

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  6. Here in the U.S., there is a reason why floods are not remembered...because it would make it more difficult for developers to build houses all over a previous floodplain. The city of Sacramento was built at the confluence of two very big rivers. Levees have saved it from most of the worst in recent years, but it has been very dry in those years. I find that our local newspaper will report flooding events in other parts of the country, usually with an explanation that their flood control was inadequate, or the people there (Louisiana for example) aren't as smart as Californians, or something that would leave the readers to believe it won't happen here. The fact is Sacramento is built on a very active floodplain, it's downstream from several huge dams, and the levees are ancient and inadequate. Someday someone will be placing a little monument to the flood that wiped out Sacramento. Remember the little monuments in Japan that ancestors had placed warning of tsunamis? The ones no one heeded when they built their homes and businesses on low ground?

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  7. Queen Vic donated £200... I can only imagine the terror of sleeping in the inadequate housing in Malin Bridge after some inhumane day's toil to line someone else's pockets and then a deluge of water washing everything away.

    The hardships our ancestors have gone through for us, always thankful.

    Sadly the same tripe is experienced now in other 'developing' parts of the world.

    Remember the Sheffield flood of 2007...

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