Floods, September 1839


Extract from: The Local Historian's Table Book: Of Remarkable Occurrences, Historical Facts, Traditions ... Connected with the Counties of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland and Durham, Volume 5. M.A. Richardson, 1846. pp 134-7.

SUNDAY the 15th September, 1839, the rivers of Northumberland were flooded to a fearful extent in consequence of the very heavy rain which fell on the preceding day, and especially during the whole of the night, when it came down in torrents, and without intermission. As early as five o'clock in the morning, a number of families residing on the banks of the Wansbeck, were roused from their beds by the water rushing into their houses. In Morpeth East Mill and dwelling house the water nearly reached the first story. A wooden bridge at Morpeth Quarry was swept away, and several walls levelled to the ground. A quantity of hay, sheaves of corn, wooden bridges, felled trees and others torn up by the roots, gates, and wreck of every description were swept down the river, with many sheep. Mr Aynsley, of Witton-shiel lost twenty-five lambs. The dam-head at Netherwitton was partly carried away, as well as the battlement of the new bridge. Mr Spearman, of Bothal Mill, suffered the loss of a great deal of corn in the sheaf, a stack of straw, stack stands and various other effects. Mr Leightley, of Bothal Haughs, had a heavy loss, including a pig, and a stack of hay, about three tons of which were taken down the river, and landed upon Newbiggin sands, quite whole the top only taken off in passing the ferry rope at Cambois boat. It was viewed as a curiosity when about four miles out at sea. In some houses at Sheepwash, the water flowed into the second story. There never was a flood in this river which caused so much damage, but no lives were lost.

 

The Coquet presented such a scene as the oldest living man never witnessed. The rain, to use a common saying, "fell whole water" and a strong gale from the east gave it a character of the most fearful description, and created well grounded suspicion that the corn would be completely destroyed; yet no apprehensions were entertained, by those who had corn standing out upon the banks of the Coquet, that the river would so far overflow its boundaries as to cause that destruction which was done. So rapidly did it rise about nine o'clock on Sunday morning, that in twenty minutes whole fields were completely swept off. The appearance of the majestic stream from Felton-bridge was singularly picturesque, rushing from the deep woody recesses of Felton park, covered with autumnal spoils, and bidding defiance to the puny arm of man to strip it of its trophies. For two hours it presented an unbroken stream of sheaves of corn, hay, trees, gates; and several sheep were amongst the tributes which the river had to offer to the ocean. Mr Spearman, of Warton, lost most - about twenty six. Mr Story, of Caistron, and Mr Armstrong, of Thorney-haugh, each lost about ten or twelve. The loss of corn, between Harbottle and Warkworth, was about seventy acres. Many had narrow escapes in attempting to remove property out of the wild career of the flood, A poor hare was seen below Weldon bridge, sailing down on a barley-sheaf. Her frail bark was cast upon a savage shore, and the timid navigator fell a prey to barbarians. The corn grounds upon the Till were inundated and the vale of Wooler, was one sheet of water.

 

The river Tweed, on Sunday forenoon, rose to an unusual height, and, when not confined by the banks, spread itself over a wide extent of land; the increased expanse of water, and its impetuous rush to the ocean, giving the river an appearance of novel and imposing grandeur. In the course of the day the devastating effects of the flood upon property situated higher up the stream became strikingly visible in the singular and indeed melancholy spectacle which the river presented, its whole surface from side to side, in Berwick harbour and above the bridge, being thickly strewn with sheaves of corn, large beams, trunks of trees, fences etc, and the carcases of two or three pigs, as also that of a deer, were observed on the water. Some slight attempts were made to save part of the property thus carried down, but they were only successful to a very limited extent. A considerable quantity of wood was saved by being washed ashore, and next day a bar of iron, fifteen feet long, was found in the salmon nets of one of the fishings beside Berwick bridge. The value of the grain which was carried down, independent of any other kind of property, must have been very considerable. The damage sustained by Norham bridge was of serious character. When the river first assumed a threatening appearance on Sunday morning, people were engaged in removing a flock of sheep, from an island of about fifteen acres of extent, on the eastern point of which the central pillar of the bridge is placed ten o clock the river was much swollen and waxing rapidly; apprehensions were then entertained of the work sustaining damage. It was not, however, till between two and three o’clock in the that the temporary structure, partly supporting the immense arch on the south side gave way before the force of the current which by this time was pursuing its heedless course with awfully majestic grandeur. This accident was wholly owing to quantity of corn, trees etc, which was being carried down the stream, collected in a body against it; a similar structure supporting north arch remained uninjured. Great fear was now entertained the safety of the arch, which was nearly completed, having a span 190 feet. The river continued to increase in size, and about o’clock on Monday morning the entire arch was driven with indescribable violence from the masonry work, and was almost borne away by the impetuous stream - fragments of it were cast the sides of the river and others floated out to sea, and were cast the coast about Spittal, Cheswick etc. The damage done was estimated at about £2,000 or £3,000.

 

The river Reed was swelled to a tremendous size, overflowing its banks, and carrying away with it considerable quantities of corn and hay, which were standing cut in the fields adjoining its boundaries, and spoiling completely the standing corn and turnips over which it came, constituting the greatest part of the loss. Of the villages in the vicinity, none suffered so much as that of Otterburn, but the damage done to it was not done by the river Reed, (as it stands near a quarter of a mile from it,) but by a small rivulet that winds its course close past the eastern side of the village, and which by the oldest inhabitant never was known to be so large as at this time. The village consists of two rows of houses each of about 110 yards long, with a bridge at the eastern extremity over the rivulet about four o’clock in the morning the water was exceedingly high, being half way up the village the houses, nearest the rivulet were half full of water, in the low stories, causing the inhabitants to take shelter in the upper parts; but about half past four, it rose two feet higher in the course of five minutes, and spread itself much more extensively; it was at its height at a quarter to five, at which time the bridge, would have been swept off had it not been for the giving way of a massy wall near the bridge which gave a new channel to the current. The water was in all the houses excepting two, the under stories of those nearest the rivulet being nearly full of water; much property was of course damaged. All in the village suffered excepting two, or three individuals, and several horses had a narrow escape. This extraordinary swell in the rivulet was caused by the bursting of two fish ponds, one occupying about six acres, and of considerable depth, the much smaller; these gave way sweeping everything before them. 

 

Although the flood in the Tyne was not so high as on former occasions, the plantations at Styford, the residence of Bacon Grey, esq, were quite under water, as were all the low in the vicinity; and at Hexham, the tan yard of Mr John Ridley, situate in Gilesgate, was completely overflowed, and damage done to the bark liquor in the pits. The houses in neighbourhood were so much flooded that the chairs and floated in the rooms. Among the various articles washed down Tyne during the flood, were large quantities of bobbins of thread. Many of these were picked up at Blyth

from http://books.google.co.uk/b...
The Local Historian's Table Book: Of Remarkable Occurrences, Historical Facts, Traditions ... Connected with the Counties of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland and Durham, Volume 5. M.A. Richardson, 1846
- Book from 1846 digitised as a free Google eBook.

Added by
Simon Cotterill
River Wansbeck
  Co-Curate Page
River Wansbeck
- Overview About the River Wansbeck The Wansbeck is a river in Northumberland, which rises above Sweethope Lough on the edge of Forelaws Forest and discharges into the North Sea at ...
1839
  Co-Curate Page
1839
- < 1838 | 1839 | 1840 > In Northern England 15th September 1839: widespread floods in Northumberland. 1839: opening of the Newcastle and North Shields Railway, the world's oldest commuter railway
River Coquet
  Co-Curate Page
River Coquet
- Overview About the River Coquet Bridges The Coquet is a river in Northumberland which rises in the Cheviot Hills and flows eastwards before discharging into the North Sea at Amble. ...
River Till
  Co-Curate Page
River Till
- The River Till is one of a number of tributaries of the River Tweed, but the only one to flow completely in England. The Till iself has several tributaries including, ...
  Co-Curate Page
Felton, Northumberland
- Overview About Felton Map Street View   Felton is a small village in north Northumberland in North East England. Felton is situated about 10 miles south of Alnwick and 9 ...
Weldon Bridge
  Co-Curate Page
Weldon Bridge
- Overview Map Street View Weldon Bridge is a hamlet situated by the River Coquet in Northumberland; located just off the A697 road between Longhorsley and Longframlington. The stone bridge, which ...
River Tweed
  Co-Curate Page
River Tweed
- Overview About the River Tweed   The River Tweed, or Tweed Water (Abhainn Thuaidh, Watter o Tweid), is a river long that flows east across the Border region in Scotland ...
  Co-Curate Page
Norham
- Overview About Norham Map Street View Norham is a village in Northumberland, which is located just south of the River Tweed near the border with Scotland. It is the site ...
Berwick upon Tweed
  Co-Curate Page
Berwick upon Tweed
- Overview About History Map Street View The northernmost town in England, on the East coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. Early history In the post-Roman period, the area ...
Otterburn
  Co-Curate Page
Otterburn
- Overview About Otterburn Map Street View Otterburn is a historic village in Northumberland, on the A696 road and 50 km north west of Newcastle and 26 km from the border ...
River Rede
  Co-Curate Page
River Rede
- The River Rede rises on Carter Fell near the boarder with Scotland. It feeds into Catcleugh Reservoir and flows past Rochester and Otterburn before converging into the River North Tyne ...
River Tyne
  Co-Curate Page
River Tyne
- Overview About the Tyne The Tyne is a major river in North East England, formed by the confluence of the River North Tyne and the River South Tyne, which converge ...

Comments

Add a comment or share a memory.

Login to add a comment. Sign-up if you don't already have an account.

ABOUT US

Co-Curate is a project which brings together online collections, museums, universities, schools and community groups to make and re-make stories and images from North East England and Cumbria. Co-Curate is a trans-disciplinary project that will open up 'official' museum and 'un-officia'l co-created community-based collections and archives through innovative collaborative approaches using social media and open archives/data.

LATEST SHARED RESOURCES