Rain and Floods
There are plenty of references to rain and thunderstorms in the
archive collections. Depending on people’s perspectives and needs at
the time, rain was either good or bad: good when required to bring
on crops and other vegetation and bad if there was too much of it.
delay haymaking, the harvest and other agricultural work, or
it could ruin an event, as at
Blithfield in August 1881.
Heavy rain affected school attendances and children, who had to
walk long distances to school, were easily deterred by wet weather.
Those who succeeded ended up with footwear and clothing so wet that
they had to be sent home again because they had no other shoes or
clothing to change into.
Link to 13 June 1919
The earliest reference to ‘great
floods of rainwater’ occurs in 1330. From the range of archive
sources available, we can see that floods have occurred regularly in
parts of the county over the centuries. Given that Staffordshire has
large rivers, notably the Trent, Tame and Dove with wide flood
plains, this is hardly surprising. Even the smaller rivers, such as
the Sow and the Penk, have caused major problems from flooding in
the past. The geographical situation of some of the County’s major
towns, on slightly higher ground on in the middle of flood plains,
has caused immense difficulties for people from flooding but flood
damage to agricultural activity has been equally significant to
those affected by it.
In the past when snowfalls were much heavier and frosts more
prolonged, floods in February and March were often caused by thawing
snow or a combination of a thaw and accompanying rain. The years
1737 and 1795 saw
significant flooding and damage to bridges as a result of the
thaw setting in during the month of February. In 1820 the level of
the River Trent was recorded as rising by 22 inches following the
thaw of very deep lying snow.
Floods caused by heavy rainfall were frequent. In September 1708,
flooding proved to be very costly for the townspeople of Rugeley. In
1858, continuous rainfall between 7th and 8th of April caused a
flood of 27 inches to be recorded at Trentham.
Severe storms in May
1908 caused the Penk, Sow, Trent, Dove and Tame all to burst their
banks, causing significant problems in adjacent towns and villages
and on agricultural land. Other notably bad
years for flooding were 1852, 1875, 1947. Of all Stafford’s towns,
Burton-upon-Trent was perhaps the most regular victim of flooding
over the centuries.
The impact of thunderstorms, particularly in earlier centuries,
has often been noted in archive sources.
Lightning could be very damaging in earlier centuries when
buildings were not as well constructed and had no lightning
conductors. Accounts also survive of
loss of life during such storms and equally of