Last night, hubby and I went to a talk at Sheffield Manor Lodge about the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864. This disaster was the biggest man made disaster of it's time (in terms of loss of life) in Great Britain in the Victorian era, and yet the incident is not know well outside of the local area. The city is commemorating the fact that this event happened 150 years ago on 11th March by holding various events. The talk was fascinating and full of facts that I didn't know. The horrific event happened as the Dam was filled for the first time to capacity, and although a crack was spotted, it was deemed not to be of consequence. The Dam broke at midnight and for 30 minutes, 650 million tons of water poured down the very narrow Loxley Valley, through Hillsborough, and on through the city, wreaking death and destruction on a horrific scale. At least 250 were killed - the exact number is not known as entire families were wiped out in some instances, and it was common in those days for extended family to live together. The chap who gave our talk had once been a headmaster at Malin Bridge school - Malin Bridge hamlet had seen the worst of the casualties. His interest had been stirred when his class had researched the disaster as a project and he realised that many of the children in his class had the same surnames as the victims of the flood. The aftermath of the event was well documented in photographs as mobile darkrooms had just been invented and the town (as it was then) was descended upon by photographers taking "souvenir" photographs. The whole event, and eyewitness reports is well documented too as Samuel Harrison (who was a new journalist on the local Sheffield Newspaper) took it upon himself to interview every one he could find that was involved and write a book on the subject. You can read a copy of this here. It is fascinating stuff, and gives an insight to how these working families lived in Victorian times. We are hoping to explore more of the area where the flood occurred and see what relics we can find.
I dug out these photographs of a newish memorial that had been built in the city to honour the flood victims that I had taken in 2012. Until this monument was erected, I don't think that there had been anything to mark the event - even in the city.