Sunday, August 26, 2012

Norwich 1912 Floods

The summer of 2012 in England has been a bit of a wash-out, not just the wettest ever April to June since records began in 1910,  but in fact the wettest summer for over one hundred years.  However, no  matter how dismal this summer's been, no loss of life has occurred from the weather, unlike events in Norwich a century ago. 

After 7 inches of rain fell over several days in late August 1912, the river Wensum which flows through the City finally burst its banks, resulting in floods radiating over a 40 mile area. It's estimated that the rain fell at the rate of one inch of water an hour and in total four people lost their lives. Those who remained in their homes had food and other supplies delivered to them by boat or horse and cart. The city's rail-links to the outside world were  temporarily blocked by flood-water, fallen trees and debris.

On August 31, Henry John Copeman, Lord Mayor of Norwich at the time, wrote to all the nation's leading newspapers - “Following a rainfall unprecedented in the records of the Meteorological Office, whole streets in the low-lying part of the city have been flooded, houses rendered desolate, the furniture and bedding destroyed, and their occupants homeless and resourceless".

But as ever, such a disaster united people and brought out the best in them. Members of the Royal Family donated £300 and the King and Queen of Norway gave £21, but the biggest donation came from the local industrial entrepreneur J. J Colman who donated £1,000,  an enormous amount of money a century ago. The total amount of money given to the people of Norwich came to £24,579 14s 7d. A report outlining how every penny was spent was duly published.

Nowadays we tend to attribute natural disasters to climate change, but in fact natural disasters, in particular flooding in this region, have occurred throughout history. The worst case being the 1953 North Sea floods, which, due to a fatal combination of winds, atmospheric pressure and high tides, affected not only East Anglia, but also Scotland and Holland, resulting in the loss of over 80 lives on the North-West Norfolk coast alone. The 1953 floods claimed over 2,500 lives, the low-lying Netherlands being by far the worst affected nation. 

Wiki-Link - 1953 floods


teegee said...

Much appreciated as we anxiously watch the behaviousr of a storm becoming what we regard (from experience) as the nastiest kind of hurricane: in the hot Gulf of Mexico it grows and strengthens and slows down and gets worse and worse. Typically it brings downed trees and power lines, badly damaged roofs, and loss of electricity just when it is most needed. Every late summer down here I wonder why we didn't just leave it to the native Americans. Of course, it was hunger for wealth from shipping out of the mouth of the Mississippi. I hope it doesn't happen again to Norwich! Pat

stujallen said...

great piece on the flood I take it the colman is the mustard one ,I saw a piece on floods in louth in the museum there a few years ago think that was the same year ,all the best stu