Shropshire Star

'Rain fell incessantly for sixteen hours!' How flooding in Shropshire was reported 150 years ago

"The heaviest rainfall for some years occurred in South Shropshire on Saturday; rain fell incessantly for sixteen hours."

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Flooding in Shropshire isn't a modern problem.

That was how a journalist writing in 1879 began his short article about the prospect of flooding in the county.

The story featured in a June 12 edition of the Tenby Observer under the headline: "Heavy rainfall in Shropshire - Floods apprehended."

"The Teme rose to its highest point, and the River Corve, at Ludlow, has overflowed and invaded the streets," the story continued. "There are prospects of a heavy flood, the water coming down rapidly from the hills."

The article obviously shines an interesting light on how flooding was reported nearly 150 years ago, but also suggests journalism writing was a little more descriptive in the 19th Century.

"The roaring of the Teme as it passes through the arches of the bridges resembles distant thunder" is distinctly poetic compared to modern styles of news writing.

The article concludes with a warning about the possibility of agricultural disaster if the bad weather continues.

"Should the water continue to rise the meadows will be inundated and the deposit of mud brought down the stream will totally destroy the mowing grass reserved for the hay crops," the reporter warns.

The article is available in the British Newspaper Archive:

But while it mentions the devastation and damage flooding can cause, the above article doesn't reference loss of life.

An article in The Scotsman, dated December 10 1886, reports that flooding caused by a great storm claimed the life of a man in Shrewsbury.

"In Montgomeryshire and Shropshire floods have been caused by the overflow of the Rivers Severn and Verniew," the reporter writes.

"An old man named Lawrence fell into the Severn at Shrewsbury during the gale, and was drowned."

You can read the full report about the storm, which claimed a number of lives, here:

Lawrence's fate and that of many others across the country was reported in a large number of newspapers.

In the archives, it's relatively easy to find reports about flooding in Shropshire.

In 1881, a few years before Lawrence's demise, there are articles in newspapers such as the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette which describes flooding in the region as "alarming."

In 1882, there's a report in the Reading Mercury describing flooding in Shropshire as "very extensive."

The reports become more frequent as we enter the 20th Century, so flooding in our county is obviously not a modern problem.

It's certainly interesting to explore what Salopians of the past experienced and how journalists reported on those experiences at the time.