The restorative work on the river defence wall along Broadgate has started and apparently the work will last a couple of months. It got me thinking as to what it would have been like before the wall was built so I went along to the Library to see if there are any flood records.
The earliest records I could find were from 1771, 1799, 1833 and 1840 when on the 17th August Preston experienced ‘a perfect hurricane’. In 1866 on the 16th November the most serious and wide spread damage for 200 years was experienced. ‘The Ribble and the Darwen are one’ and ‘the old portion of Avenham Park was filled up and rose much above the level of the lake in the park’ ( what lake would that be? ). In Broadgate there was a sea of water with houses jutting out of it. Occupants bundled furniture upstairs and sailed off to Fishergate Hill. People in the centre of South Meadow Lane were hemmed in on all sides to a depth of 3 to 4 feet. Some houses were flooded at the bottom of Grafton, Lauderdale and Beech Streets. Water overflowed the end of Ribble Place and ran in the end of Taylor Street. The Regatta Inn had 4 foot of water flowing past its door. Workmen had to abandon Strand Road and move to Fishergate Hill. At its peak at 10-30pm water was running down Elm Street. In Fishergate water had risen as high as the base of Stanley Terrace.
After the flood subsided it was said that Strand road looked like the bed of a river. The foundations of the Pleasure Boat Inn were exposed ‘to the very bottom’.
In 1880 flood water washed against the houses of Broadgate.
There were other floods through the years at regular intervals and I don’t intend to just give a list of dates. However, I did find an interesting snippet in The Preston Guardian of 1921. It was dated the 31st December and there was a photograph of the river bank in Broadgate during a flood and the picture shows a street lamp standard half submerged. The words describe ‘ a big fresh down the Ribble, the water travelling at a great rate. A sixth of the West Cliff Cricket Ground was under water.’
What I couldn’t find, however, was the background to the building of the original Broadgate wall. This was partly as I would like to leave that for another month but mostly because I found it difficult to drag myself away from the adverts in the papers of the time.
One of my favourites was for ‘correct and distinctive Dress Wear from Austin Reed.’
‘Dress ties – the latest dress tie is the Regent tie, it’s the latest word in simplicity and an explanatory diagram is supplied’
‘Discerning men appreciate that Austin Read Dress Wear is not only correct in style and detail but possesses a distinctive, quiet simplicity rather than any suggestion of the extreme.’
I rather like to think that this would also describe this columnist.