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Norwich floods centenary: ‘People went from trying to protect their property to fighting for their lives’

12:33 20 August 2012

Bread arrives in Orchard Street during the floods.

Bread arrives in Orchard Street during the floods.

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Derek James continues his look back at the devastating floods which hit Norwich in August 1912.

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Huge throngs gathered on St George’s Bridge before the police moved them on for their own safety.

Debris from the courts, yards and factories upstream came down in an unending succession – butchers blocks, dog kennels, garden pailings, bakers’ troughs and brewery barrels.

It was a time of ruin and calamity for so many struggling families as the waters continued to get higher and higher, bringing devastation and danger. From upstairs windows it was possible to see the grief-stricken faces of men and women, while everywhere the piteous wailing of children could be heard.

The downstairs rooms of thousands of homes were full of water, almost to the ceiling. Teams of rescue workers swung into action, taking people from their homes to the schools and other shelters which had been opened up.

People went from trying to protect their property to fighting for their lives. Many more would have died if it had not been for the brave efforts of others.

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