Another flood, a forgotten flood

I read an article about a dreadful flood, a flood which happened here in England, a flood where more than a hundred buildings, houses, mills, and farms, 250 people died although the exact figure is not known and it may be that more than 300 people were lost. The youngest person who perished was just two days old, the eldest was 78.

This flood happened when a reservoir eight miles from Sheffield in Yorkshire broke its dam and a torrent raged down the Loxley and Don valleys, engulfing all in its path. The reason that not many people now about it is because this awful inundation took place 150 years ago today, March 11, 1864.

It happened when the Dale Dyke Dam at Bradfield began to collapse… a watchman noticed a crack, just wide enough to put the blade of a knife in… then it was wide enough for a finger… despite the efforts of the work teams which did their best and tried to relieve the build up of water behind the dam, it gave way and disaster ensued. It is unimaginable, the thought of that huge force racing down the valleys sweeping all in its path, many of whom would have drowned as they slept, or were crushed under mud and tumbling buildings.

Whole villages were completely swept away, Bradfield, Damflask, Little Matlock, Loxley, Malin Bridge, Owlerton and Sheffield and Rotherham were feet deep in water, filled with the usual disgusting and toxic detritus of floods.

At the time poor construction was blamed for the disaster, the engineers who designed and built it castigated; however, it hs since been discovered that there were issues with the supposedly watertight clay liner of the embankment on the dam.

Read more about it here, including some contemporary illustrations:

, and here, with some interesting photographs:

Peter Machan has written a book about it:

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