The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864
December 9, 2008 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Gunson looked up to see a breach appearing in the top of the dam. Feeling a sudden, violent, vibrating of the ground beneath his feet, he quickly scampered up the side of the embankment, luckily just in time, as a few seconds later there was a total collapse of a large section of the dam, unleashing a colossal mountain of water which thundered down the valley and on to the unsuspecting population below. For two hundred and fifty people who lived in Sheffield and the hamlets in the valley below the dam, this was to be their last night on Earth. Six hundred and fifty million gallons of water roared down the Loxley valley and into Sheffield, wreaking death and destruction on a horrific scale.

Mostly forgotten today, the bursting of the Dale Dyke Dam resulted in the worst man-made flood in British history. Samuel Harrison's detailed account, A Complete History of the Great Flood at Sheffield, was written in the months after. The damage went far beyond the immediate toll on life and a special act of parliament resulted in one of the largest compensation claims of all time. Claimants ranged from servants whose gardens were ruined to an author and publisher whose autobiography was swept away. Even the army claimed for damages to Hillsborough Barracks, where the waters breached three-foot thick walls and drowned two of the Sergeant Paymaster's children.
posted by xchmp (5 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Great post, and nice use of GoogleBook search.
posted by acro at 5:55 AM on December 9, 2008

Those are some opening lines there. Whoever wrote that managed to use the words "violent", "sudden", "colossal" and "horrific" and the structure still doesn't collapse under its own weight.
posted by krilli at 6:16 AM on December 9, 2008

Previously, on Metafilter. For those of you interested in reading more, I highly recommend this book.
posted by wayofthedodo at 8:10 AM on December 9, 2008

See also the Boston Molasses Flood.
posted by lalochezia at 8:18 AM on December 9, 2008

Great post. The first-linked website makes me nostalgic for the "early days" of the web when it seemed like similar sites were waiting to be discovered daily.
posted by maxwelton at 11:20 AM on December 9, 2008

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