Retro: Floods that caused devastation to South Yorks

Flooding at Rivelin Cottages - 30 July 1980
Flooding at Rivelin Cottages - 30 July 1980
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Hurricane Bertha did her worst in South Yorkshire and caused misery for lots of people over the weekend, which prompted this look back at floods that have hit the region in the past.

Looking back in The Star files, it’s amazing how often floods happen, causing chaos on the roads or, worse, damaging homes and businesses.

Sheffield floods - July 2nd 1958'The one speculation of people looking over Heeley Bridge was "Is it going to come over the road?"  And there must have been those who were wondering when the little Sheaf last did that!

Sheffield floods - July 2nd 1958'The one speculation of people looking over Heeley Bridge was "Is it going to come over the road?" And there must have been those who were wondering when the little Sheaf last did that!

On the most extreme occasions lives can be lost, most notably in the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864, where the bursting of Dale Dike Dam on the River Loxley swept at least 238 people to their deaths and damaged more than 600 homes, also destroying hundreds of businesses.

In the worst catastrophe of its kind in recent years, two people were killed in Sheffield in 2007 by the terrible floods that hit huge areas of the city hard, threatened the village of Catcliffe near Rotherham and also badly affected parts of Doncaster.

As we reported in the Saturday Retro recently, widow Evelyn Rowland, aged 83, cheated death during the floods of July 1958 when her home in Yarborough Road “cracked and crashed into the swirling River Sheaf”, as The Star said at the time.

Millhouses Park, the railway station and Bradway rail tunnel were also badly hit.

Roy Biggins of Batemoor told how his family was caught up in the floods.

He said: “At that time I lived on Tamplin Terrace, a small terrace of ten houses which was approached from the end of Tamplin Road.

“Tamplin Road ran off Broadfield Road at the Abbeydale end. These houses were pulled down in 1976 and the area is now a park/playground.

“The front of the houses on Tamplin Terrace were at the side of the River Sheaf; from the front doors of the houses to the river wall was approximately 12 feet.

“We lived at number 5 and didn’t suffer much damage from the floods apart from water in the cellar, which did come right up the cellar steps. Across the river at that time was a factory belonging to Laycock’s and some of the workmen saw that the river was undermining the house which collapsed, and the men called a warning across the river.

“Without this warning the consequences could have been much worse.”

As we reported earlier this week, work continues in Sheffield to clear to keep drains and gullies clear. Flood defences should protect the Lower Don Valley by 2016.

The villages of Toll Bar and Bentley in Doncaster have already benefited from £11m of flood defences.

However, those who suffered will never be free of the nightmare of the devastation to their lives. And no defences can protect all areas from flooding, so sadly it is certain that more people in our area will go through the same heartbreak in future.