Inundations: Floods on the Fylde

Reflecting on the recent storms and writing the missive on Shipwrecks, coupled with memories of early adulthood working on South Shore, caused me to put this piece together.image002

The references to early adulthood refer to my time as apprentice chef at the Headlands Hotel on South Prom. Regularly at Easter and other times of High Tide, I was called upon to carry the ladies who worked at the hotel from the hotel front door, wading sometimes at past knee height through the water to the bottom of Harrowside Bridge, so that the ladies didn’t get their feet too wet. I was a big lad in those days, a Rugby player and as strong as an ox. Piggybacking the ladies, I saw as not just a good deed but part of a regime of keeping fit, and a I did it for about 7 years. Needless to say, I paid for that good intention in later life! The hotel never seemed to suffer too much. The cellar flooded of course and oil fired boiler injectors housed down there were brought into the kitchen, serviced by me and the owner, replaced and they and we carried on working, as though it was an everyday occurrence, though nowadays, I feel sure that Health & Food Safety officials would have something to say about that. In the early 1970’s too, I helped colleagues move their goods and chattels in the floods at Larkholme Estate.

image003Getting back to the storms, the massive investment in sea defences have mitigated a lot of the inconvenience and anguish over the regular floods of those days in the early 1960’s. More recent storms have been put down in part to ‘Global Warming’, however, the Fylde coast has a long history of ‘Inundations’ and long before there was any reference to its affects on weather..

A little bit of further investigation at Central Library and a 1937 account lists what are referred to as ‘Inundations’ that occurred regularly if not frequently over the last few hundred years and proimage005bably before that. These inundations wrought havoc in the Fylde flatlands. Fields, houses, hamlets and presumably people and stock losing their place in the landscape, ships and crews lost from the seascape.Indeed, 2 separate occasions hamlets just off the present coastline were consumed by the waves; Waddum Thorpe just off Squires Gate and Singleton Thorpe (aka Singleton Scar) off Rossall Point/Bispham, although there is no evidence that these existed or were lost, but popular folklore and early histories of the area refer to them.

The ‘Saxton Map’ (right) of the 1500’s show the extent and shape of the Fylde Coast, compared its shape and form today, although we can assume some artistic licence. 1752 Emanuel Bowen’s Map of Lancashire confirms the erosion of the coastline over a couple of hundred years.

The following is a record of Inundations over the last 500 years:

Year      Impact
1532     Loss of Waddum Thorpe, a Churchyard and 2 miles of pasture at South Shore
1555     Loss of Singleton Thorpe, west of Cleveleys by Penny Stone Rock
1720     Loss of 6600 Acres in Lancashire including the Fylde Coast
1744     A ‘Disturbance’ or earthquake on Pilling Moss. ‘The Moss rose up and slid South’
1796     Inundation of Fylde Coast
1821     Inundation
1833     Inundation covering Marton Moss, up to Fleetwood
1863     Inundation affecting Rossall and Fleetwood
1870     Loss of the Promenade and ‘White Houses’ at Rossall Point

Mawson’s ‘Amounderness’ report only covers the area to 1937, But we know of many floods since. Research at Durham University cites 15 occasions of severe flooding at Blackpool in the hundred years between 1870 and 1970. even though the Promenade at Blackpool, as the first defence against the sea, was built before 1870.
Clearly, the sea and its floods are an integral to the life and life of Blackpool. Floods have a significant effect on those who suffer as a result, but what a spectacle for those who simply observe!


Books Bibliography
Thornber, William, 1837,The History of Blackpool and Its Neighbourhood
Porter, John (1876). History of the Fylde of Lancashire.
Mawson, T.H., 1937, Amounderness: Being a report of the Regulation Planning Committee for the Area of the Fylde, Batsford Ltd.

Websites Bibliography
Floods of 1720 at: accessed 13/01/14
Flood of 1870 at: Accessed 13/01/14
Floods of 1927 at: accessed 13/01/14
Film of recent floods at: accessed 13/01/14
Zong, Y. and Tooley, M. J. (2003) ’A historical record of coastal floods in Britain : frequencies and associated storm tracks.’, Natural hazards., 29 (1). pp. 13-36 at: Accessed 13/01/14
Recent Blackpool Flood at: Accessed: 15/01/14
Extract from Saxton 1537 Map of Lancashire at: Accessed 15/01/14

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s