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.
Getting 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 probably 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:
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
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!
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.
Floods of 1720 at: http://www.amounderness.co.uk/1720_floods.html accessed 13/01/14
Flood of 1870 at: http://www.amounderness.co.uk/1870_september_storm.html Accessed 13/01/14
Floods of 1927 at: http://www.amounderness.co.uk/1927_storm_&_floods_st.annes.html accessed 13/01/14
Film of recent floods at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwYcUFj2uJs 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: http://dro.dur.ac.uk/1072/1/1072.pdf Accessed 13/01/14
Recent Blackpool Flood at: http://www.halcrow.com/Global/Images/coastal_engineering/wave_overtopping_blackpool.jpg Accessed: 15/01/14
Extract from Saxton 1537 Map of Lancashire at: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genmaps/genfiles/COU_files/ENG/LAN/saxton_lancs_1579.htm Accessed 15/01/14