The Askrigg Flood June 3rd 1908

Beck Bits Worton 1908

On the Wednesday before June Fair Day 1908 the morning was stifling. The suns heat beat down on the fronts of the houses and poured in at open doors. Most of the men had gone to the river to a meet of the otter hounds, and the women were baking in readiness for the relatives and friends who would flock to the village the next day.

About two o’clock a mason working on the south side of the valley noticed that a storm was gathering and, as he looked, a huge cloud hanging over Fair Hill above Askrigg seemed to divide and fall. Meanwhile in the village ‘a blackness and dark fiery aspect brooded over all.’ In a house above Moor Road Chapel the family suddenly heard a roar, and rushing to the window saw a torrent of brown water pouring down the road, carrying with it great boulders. After a few minutes the body of a cow was swept by. In a house at the top of Elm Hill a young girl who had been baking, alarmed by the darkness and noise, rushed to her elderly father asleep in another room. Together they dashed to the door. To their horror they saw waves surging down the moor road and a swirling mass of water half-way up Elm Hill, whilst from a top storey window of one of the partly submerged houses a woman’s figure gesticulated wildly. The nightmare was all the worse for those who witnessed the scene from the knowledge that the majority of the young men were far away.

It rained for three hours. Water lashed through the houses at Town Head. Articles of furniture, loaves of newly baked bread, and personal belongings floated away along The Gate, only to be found days later strew across the fields. A neighbour carried faith and Jane Cloughton out of their house, where the gable end of a building had fallen and through whose lower storey flowed a muddy stream. At Granada Hall a woman who was pregnant was found by her husband clinging to a bacon hook in the ceiling. In many houses the only means of entrance was by bedroom windows. Ten yards of metal were washed from the railway line by the flooded Paddock Beck, and the four o’clock train rocked as it was signaled to slow down by a chance passer by.

 Quickly as it had risen the water fell, leaving chaos behind it. Up the Moor Road a steam roller was embedded in stones, the road itself was rent with a channel two yards deep filled with sand and rocks weighing several tons; the High Bridge was swept away, the Worton Lane resembled a river bed, and debris was piled outside the houses. No lives were lost, but damage to council and personal property amounted to about £3000.
An account of the Flood from Marie Hartley’s Yorkshire Village

Report in Local newspaper
Yesterday and Wednesday Wensleydale was visited with disastrous floods, the town of Askigg being underwater. Scarcely a house escaped, the water in many instances reaching the upper storeys. Several cottages were demolished by a cyclonic downpour of rain from the hills surrounding the town, and three bridges between Askrigg and Aysgarth were washed away. Thousands of acres were flooded, and the damage to cattle, sheep and lambs is estimated at £5000.

Coleby Hall Askrigg the residence of Mr. F.D. Acland, M.P. Financial Secretary to the War Office, who is member for the division, was also under water.

Much damage was also done at Nappa Hall. The railway embankment for twenty yards near Askrigg Station was washed away yesterday. A breakdown gang temporarily repaired it and the traffic was partially reopened.

Thousands of rabbits have been drowned, and the damage to growing crops is very heavy. Last evening the water had considerably abated and the river was lower.

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