Global warming? Forget it! Whilst recently sorting my archive material, I was amazed to discover a vivid description of a terrible flood endured by Scarborians and local villages in August 1857.
Although many will recall a similar one in 1953, previous disasters seldom were recorded. There always have been extremes of weather, and I guess there always will be. It’s nature’s way.
It began raining on Thursday, August 9, and rapidly increased between 10pm-11pm. That night drains overflowed all over the town, and rain became more violent until 1am.
Aberdeen Terrace resembled a natural lake, and the wall enclosing St Thomas’ Hospital was washed away. William Street was several feet under water, and the North Sands each side of Peasholm were strewn with large uprooted trees, fragments of bathing machines, blocks of earth, and stones from the cliffs.
In St Mary’s Churchyard, part of the south wall collapsed, and the torrent bore away tombstones. Masses of mud and stones slid down Castle Hill, and Quay Street was deep in mud.
The town became shrouded in darkness, for soon after 10pm the fires in the Gas Works were extinguished by the waters rushing down Burr Bank, and Long Greece steps area.
Next morning nearly every house on Sandside was full of water and sand. Fishermen stood in kitchens up to their waists in water, bailing with buckets.
The lower part of one house in King Street was seven feet deep in water which burst through the garden wall and carried it away.
In the Valley, water was eight feet deep, and Huntriss Row three feet. Gardens were carried away in Queen Street.
A parrot in its cage was sadly drowned before its situation was discovered.
The waters rushed through Friargate, inundated the Friends’ Meeting House, and raged in St Sepulchre Street. The mad cataract poured thousands of gallons of water into the Britannica Inn, then situated in Merchants Row.
The rain-gauge kept by the museum curator was constructed to show 9.5 inches. On Friday morning it was over-flowing! There were extremely bad floods in Scalby and Hackness too.
In the August 30, 1912 edition of the Manchester Guardian, it was claimed that Scarborough had the highest floods on record.
The Executive of the Commissioners under the Improvement Act, strong in their sense of duty, met to consider what was to be done.
What can one do against the hand of nature? Men’s efforts are futile and ineffective.
So much for media hysteria about global warming.
In the 1970s we were advised – following the 1976 heatwave – to grow only drought-tolerating plants such as geraniums, varieties of ornamental grasses, and succulents etc.
Even vineyards were recommended for hillside terraces, and peach trees for gardens.
Man will never rule the world. It’s God’s creation, and nature balances life on earth, and always will.