A rising tide of flood issues for the people of Shropshire

Flooding has been at the height of our problems in Shropshire for many a year, as demonstrated by the levels recorded on the door of this pub.

Husband of landlady Jenny Cambridge, Alan Cambridge, takes a look at the record flood level markings on the door, with 'Friday' the dog, at The Boat Inn, Jackfield
Husband of landlady Jenny Cambridge, Alan Cambridge, takes a look at the record flood level markings on the door, with 'Friday' the dog, at The Boat Inn, Jackfield

It makes for startling reading - 29 flood markers in total, five in the last three years, 16 in the last 10. Three of the top six are from the last 12 months.

This scene of floods outside The Abbey in Shrewsbury is believed to be from 1947

Calls have been made for short to medium term measures to be brought into place. More barriers, river dredging in north Wales, or diverting water into open land - whatever the combination of measures that could provide a solution, all residents and business owners know is that it is high time to try and shut the door on flooding disasters.

Husband of landlady Jenny Cambridge, Alan Cambridge, takes a look at the record flood level markings on the door, with 'Friday' the dog, at The Boat Inn, Jackfield

The Boat Inn at Jackfield is the pub which has the flood records painted on the door, etching a constant reminder of the ever present threat into the minds drinkers and staff. It shows that the most recent flooding reached 19ft above the usual river level and was the fifth-worst recorded. The peak last February was only a couple of inches higher and was the third-worst bout of flooding.

Barriers were up at The Wharfage in Ironbridge during the floods last year

Manager Jenny Cambridge said: "I heard a flood officer speaking saying that it wasn't as bad this time round but, as you can see, it was. It was up there with the levels of last year. It's one of the top highest ones. It's in the middle of the two floods we had at the start of last year."

Measures have had to be put in place to guard against the impact of more flooding, including tiled flooring which is less susceptible to damage, and a collapsible bar which can be broken down into pieces and moved to higher ground when the weather forecast looks grim.

The Wharfage in Ironbridge during the floods in 2000 before defences were installed. This picture was taken by reader Richard Starr

"I'm pretty used to it by now," added Jenny. "The brewery did a lot of work last year (to make venue more flood proof). We've had a bar made for us that can be taken apart so we can put it away when we're expecting floods."

The Boat Inn's story will be similar to those shared by many businesses and residents across the county over the years.

Husband of landlady Jenny Cambridge, Alan Cambridge, where the bar has been removed, with 'Friday' the dog, at The Boat Inn, Jackfield

Records on the door go as far back as 1929, though one of the first major floods in the county was back in February 1795, when it flooded to 20ft 3.5ins above the ordinary low water level in Shrewsbury.

There was disastrous flooding for consecutive years in 1946 and 1947. The former was the second highest recorded at 19ft 5ins, but the latter, despite river levels peaking four inches lower, was especially bad because the floods came after the harshest winter for many years.

People make their way across the duck boards in Frankwell, Shrewsbury in December 2000

Fast forward a couple of decades to the 1960s and there were several flood years. But during the 1970s and 1980s Shropshire was relatively flood-free, which led to a mistaken belief among many that reservoirs which had been created in Mid Wales had meant flooding of the River Severn was a thing of the past.

Flood defences for Shrewsbury were proposed in the 1990s, but council and public opinion was against them.

The millennium floods were deemed so bad that Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the county. Here he chats to PC David Meyer in the emergency planning room at the Shirehall with emergency planning officer Ian Sawers, top right and MP at the time Paul Marsden

But the flood disaster of the year 2000, the worst floods in more than 50 years, was a game changer. As you can see on The Boat Inn's record, the millennium floods were the most severe of the lot, with water levels recorded at 19ft 6ins above usual levels.

Frankwell used to be one of Shrewsbury's worst-hit areas until defences were installed. In this picture from 2000, Andrew Burton from Harlescott ploughs his way through with his bike

Flooding hit the county in the last few months of the year, and prompted flood defences to be built which helped save homes and businesses in Frankwell, Shrewsbury, and further measures to be taken across the county's most badly hit areas.

Millions of pounds of government money have been ringfenced for the River Severn Partnership to make long term fixes, but many Salopians like Jenny need something done quickly, and will be hoping that we make it through 2021 without another flood event.

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