Glossop Heritage Trust

The Great Glossop Flood of 1834.

Pigot's Directory of 1835 contains a short, but dramatic, paragraph:
On Wednesday, the 30th of July, 1834, the neighbourhood of Glossop was visited by a most tremendous tempest; the village appeared, at one time, to be enveloped in one almost continuous blaze of lightning, while the thunder, pealing amongst the hills, was unusually loud and terrific, and the rain and hail poured down in quantities, of which no description can present an adequate idea : an overwhelming flood was the consequence, which swept down the valley with impetuous force, carrying devastation in its resistless course, and striking with dismay the inhabitants. The brook which waters Glossop, increased by the streams from the hills, assumed a most appalling appearance, and, rushing onward, threatened destruction to all erections on its banks, and to bridges which crossed it. Several mills received great injury ; amongst which, Mr. John Kershaw’s factory, at Hurst, sustained damage to the amount of upwards of £1000.: two young women and a child, belonging to these works, perished in the flood, and others were severely bruised. In addition to the mischief done to the factories and works, very extensive injury occurred to the fields, gardens, fences, roads, and bridges, of which last, four were entirely destroyed. Such was the suddenness, violence, and rapidity of the torrent, that not only sheep and lambs, but hares, rabbits, and even birds, were carried away by it; and it is said that some fish were caught on the turnpike road.

The following longer article was first published in Peak Sketches in 1882.

On Saturday (sic), July 30th, 1834, occurred a calamitous phenomenon which has passed into history as the “Glossop Flood”, when three lives were lost and great damage accrued to property. Glossop was then in its infancy, the valley where now stands Howardtown was all “Smiling fields and hedgerows green”, through which the old stage coaches between Manchester and Sheffield bowled merrily on their way; the mammoth factories of Mr Wood and Mr Sumner were then mere dreams of the future, those enterprising manufacturers being at this period but at the bottom of the ladder of their prosperity. Old Glossop was then the Glossop, and the population numbered but a thousand or two, the secluded inhabitants being in blissful ignorance of the march of progress as exemplified by a Mayor and Corporation and excessive rates.

The morning of the day was as bright as a summer day should be until about dinner-time, when ominous clouds began to gather and the muttering of distant thunder foretold the probability of a storm. Soon after 2 o'clock it made its appearance and the rain descended in torrents. The intensity of the clouds threw a gloom over the valley which for the time was appalling, and about 3 o'clock there came a crash of thunder which shook the very ground, and the rain poured as the unbroken sheet of a waterfall. The top end of the valley seemed the centre of a hurricane, and shrieks of distress in the neighbourhood of the Hurst told that the storm had brought some calamity in its train. A black lowering cloud burst over Hurst Moor, and so vast was the body of water discharged that it ploughed a cavity in the earth 100 yards square and a considerable depth. The water rushed down the valley as though a reservoir had burst its banks, and the first object with which it came in contact was the Hurst mill, then worked by the late Mr. Kershaw. The blowing- room and cotton storehouse were swept clean away, whilst the water dashed through the mill, filling the cardroom from floor to ceiling and completely burying the machinery in peat and slush. Fortunately no one was working in this room at the time, but some of the workpeople were only rescued from other parts of the building by being drawn through the ceiling. In the mill yard were five or six cottages, two of which were occupied as one house by Mr. Kershaw, the others being inhabited by workpeople. The torrent dashed against the cottages, and before the occupants had time to escape, two women and a child were carried away by the rushing waters and drowned. The body of one of the victims was found hanging by her dress to the branches of a tree at Cowbrook, another one a little lower down, and the body of the child near Shepley mill.

Continuing its course, the flood swept through Milltown, submerging the few houses then standing there, carrying away the furniture wholesale and greatly jeopardising the panic-stricken residents, it flooded the small weaving shed, which Mr. Wood at this time worked, the mud and debris playing great havoc with the machinery and materials, and when the waters had subsided a great collection of household furniture and the body of a sheep were found inside the weaving shed. Mr. Wood had gone to Simmondley to look alter his hay, but hearing the shouts and observing the torrent rushing down the valley he made his way towards his mill as quickly as possible, apprehension lending speed to his feet.

On reaching the neighbourhood of Shepley mill he found what is now High Street West become a broad river, the flood having carried away the battlements of the bridge itself for a considerable distance on either side of the road. He plunged into the stream and waded through it, with water up to his middle in his great anxiety to reach his factory.

Victoria Bridge was originally a small affair, narrow and rough in construction. It had just been widened by having a piece put to it, and this was carried clean away, not a trace being left. Another small bridge spanned the brook above old Shepley mill (now the site of the glove factory) and this also was swept away bodily.

On the site of the Wesley Chapel stood a barn; the present High Street was a turnpike, skirted with thorn hedges, and oh either side were meadows, not a house being seen where now stand George Street, Cross Street. Chapel Street, Market Street, Edward Street. Bernard Street, Henry Street, Arundel Street, and the gas works; and the lower portion of this land was converted into a large lake. At the corner of Shepley mill stood two or three old houses (about the spot where Mr. Walter Oliver's shop now stands), and on the opposite side below the bridge were two more cottages occupied by the late Mr. Thomas Braddock (father of the veteran postman, Mr, Robert Braddock). These houses and the mill were like islands in a waste of water and in a boulder yard fronting Mr. Braddock's house, the flood left part of a huge trough which conveyed water to the large waterwheel then used at Hurst mill. Pursuing its way, the torrent deluged the little mill at Wren Nest, which was then only eight or nine windows long, and which modestly stands to-day, with its little turret. The Logwood mill was then a paper mill worked by Mr. Oliver, and a trough carried water from the Primrose Lane reservoir to the building. The appalling nature of the flood will be imagined when we say that it reached up to this trough a distance of ten or twelve feet to the ordinary level of the brook and the bales of cotton and debris were hurled against the trough with such force as to carry it clear away.

The printworks, then a small concern, suffered but little damage, the torrent having somewhat abated ere it reached this point. Altogether the flood was unprecedented, and for years was looked back upon with terror, and spoken of as a dreadful visitation.

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Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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