Centenary of the Great Flood that hit Wymondham and Attleborough

One hundred years ago this month the Norwich area was hit by a devastating deluge and stories of beleaguered Wymondham appeared in the national dailies.

It was from early on Monday, August 26 1912 that seven inches of rain fell in a day, leading the Daily Sketch to comment: 'Never in its history has the district presented such a desolate appearance.'

By the evening the railway line between Wymondham and Norwich was impassable and the Daily Mirror featured a photograph on its front page showing great piles of baggage and mail bags which had accumulated on the platform of the town's railway station.

The last train to reach Norwich left Wymondham at 6.30pm and when the train from London arrived soon after 8pm, the stationmaster had to tell the passengers that they would have to spend the night on the train or try to seek accommodation in the town's hotels and inns – if they could reach them.

Parts of the line to Dereham were also under several feet of water, while that between the town and Forncett was blocked at Ashwellthorpe.

A party of ladies, who had booked to leave London for Switzerland the following day, were trapped at the village station.

The River Tiffey broke its banks and the rising waters severely damaged bridges at Station Road and Cavick. Near Damgate Bridge the houses of Hubbard and Nicholls were destroyed and even some unfortunate ducks, trapped in a little wooden house, were drowned. Sadly at the Station Road bridge the torrent swept away a pony and cart carrying some pigs. The driver, a youth named Laycock, escaped by the skin of his teeth.

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Stories of the Great Flood, like that of Peter Bullivant, abounded. Bullivant was the manager of Pluck's menswear store in Market Street and so concerned was he about the rising waters that he slept in the shop's window all night.

Being on higher ground Attleborough suffered less than Wymondham, but all roads leading to the town were submerged, cottagers in Silver Street, Besthorpe, having to take refuge in their upper rooms.

The Great Eastern Railway managed to transfer some of the passengers stranded at Wymondham to Attleborough where they were put up in hotels and private houses.

The stream at Bannister Bridge, to the north of the town, normally a couple of yards wide, had extended to one hundred yards in width and an enterprising carter offered to ferry people across 'Bannister Broad' at a 'penny return'.

Mercifully, unlike in Norwich, no one lost their life, but with wrecked homes, destroyed property and drowned livestock, a Wymondham Flood Relief Fund was established following a meeting at Browick Road Council School.

Compensation was distributed from the fund, swelled by a �20 donation from the Coop, 'with equity and fairness.'

A comprehensive exhibition about the 1912 flood is running in the Wymondham Heritage Museum at The Bridewell building until October 31.

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