Floods follow Great Thaw – Don and Dearne Overflow

March 1947

South Yorkshire Times March 22, 1947

Floods follow Great Thaw
Don and Dearne Overflow
Mexborough Shipwreck and Rescue

Houses were abandoned, roads made impassable, and bus services interrupted as a result of floods which followed in the wake of the great thaw in South Yorkshire this week.

At some point the river Don and the Sheffield and South Yorkshire navigation Canal merged and the river Dearne burst its banks at Wath and marooned families in Midland Terrace. The front doors of houses near the Don at Conisbrough were half covered by water.

Risked Lives for dog

On Tuesday a dog, tied in its kennel, drifted down the Don and stuck in flooded fields near the Toll Bar Bridge, Mexborough. The police contacted the Swinton Canal Depot and the motorboat with a crew of two were sent out to investigate, and also to contact Mr A Wood, lock keeper at the Toll Bar, who was in danger of being marooned.

When the boat arrived on the scene it was discovered that Mr TE Wakefield, of Ferry Cottage, Conisbrough, had swum over 200 yards in the flooded river to release the dog, which swam to the top of a small tree nearby and would not move.

PC Stancliffe (Denaby) stripped and swam to the tree, but was unable to move the dog. He procured a rope, which he tied round the dog after swimming out again and the animal was then towed to safety, and is now at Denaby Police Station waiting to be claimed. If it is not claimed within seven days it is liable to be destroyed.

In the meantime, the crew of the boat, Mr AE Martin (Conisbrough) and Mr E Beevers, of 23, Highfield Road Swinton had made arrangements to rescue the Toll Bar lock keeper and his family from their isolated home on Tuesday afternoon and started towards the spot where the dog was marooned. As they neared the Toll Bar Bridge the current was so strong that their boat would not make headway. They tied up to a motor branch owned by Messrs EV Waddington Ltd of Swinton, for a tow, but in manoeuvring the motorboat was turned broadside to the current and overturned. The two occupants clung to ropes on the bars were hauled to safety. Personal effects lost in the boat included a haversack and coat belonging to Mr Beevers and Mr Martin’s dinner.

Conisbrough Evacuation

floodwater from the Don necessitated evacuation on Wednesday of nine families from Dufton’s Row, Conisbrough. Although water was over the window sills early on Wednesday afternoon only one family had moved out. The residents, living in bedrooms, were obtaining food through their backdoors.

Later in the day the situation became worse and a small boat was loaned by Doncaster Corporation with which to evacuate the occupants.

One of them said that furniture in the downstairs rooms was floating near the ceilings, and a grocery shop at the highest point in the block the county was under water. The occupants of living quarters above the shop are now the only people left in the block, and include an invalid, Mrs Dufton.

Some of the families, who were evacuated to the Church Hall, Conisbrough, were without ration books, oil change of clothes, and took on essential items from their homes.

At the nearby sickle works water had only tried a foot on Wednesday night to cause production to cease.

The residents of Midland Terrace, Wath, were in a similar plight when the Dearne burst its banks, and had to improvise rafts in which to paddle to the Wath – Bolton Road.

Wath railway station was also cut off from the roadway by the floods and no passengers or road traffic have reached it since Tuesday. Water on the Bolton side of the station was 5 feet deep.

At Swinton, the most seriously affected spot was in Rowns Lane, where water, which reached a depth of about 2 feet, prevented trolleybuses from getting through to Mexborough. The service terminates at Swinton Station, and up to yesterday workers had to use petrol bus services or beg a lift from lorries and cars in fording the flood.

On Tuesday night some buses on the Doncaster – Kilnhurst and Doncaster – Barnsley route were diverted along Roman Terrace and through Queen Street and White Lee Road.

Old Denaby ferry service was discontinued on Monday. Early yesterday morning the Don reached the mark recording a flood in 1839. After this the water began to recede at 9 a.m. yesterday had gone down 8 inches.

Power Station Surrounded

the Yorkshire Electric Power Co’s Mexborough generation station was surrounded on three sides by floodwater by Wednesday, and at the nearby Denaby colliery river bridge the water risen to within a few inches of the roadway. A police watch was kept on this area.

Mexborough Urban Council sewage works, which are also in the vicinity, were endangered, and what was only a foot or so below the door of the pumping plant there.

The high Melton – Mexborough road, across the Pastures, was close on Wednesday, and about 40 acres of farmland near High Melton was inundated.

At Wath Main Colliery rising water on Tuesday threatened to invade the pump house, but after efforts have been made to divert the water the position and had eased on Wednesday.

At the Ferry Boat House, Kilnhurst, a boat was faster near the back door, and the River Don, which had burst its banks and merged with the canal and covered over 30 acres in the vicinity, was streaming into the kitchen and bedroom. Mrs M Smith, the only woman “Ferry man” in the district, whose job is to Ferry barge horses across the river at this point, was on Wednesday preparing to obtain planks to enable the family to walk about in the flooded rooms.

Her brother, Mr Frederick Banks, used a boat to get to an out-house nearby, when he fed fowls sitting on their perches above the water.

In St Helens Ln, Harlington, floodwater poured down the hillside surrounding the Crown Inn, and on Tuesday the licensee, Mr J Horlock, was desperately trying to keep it out of his living quarters.

The trolley bus service from Swinton to Mexborough was resumed yesterday.

Denaby Pit Hold Up

Floodwater Trickles Down Shaft

Some 250 men in the Barnsley seam at Denaby Main Colliery were unable to work yesterday owing to floodwater from the river Don having trickled down the mine shaft.

Men coming out of the same last night had to be withdrawn by the Parkgate seam shaft. Working the Parkgate seam is not disturbed.

About 450 men altogether are employed in the Barnsley seam, but yesterday morning floodwater was slowly receding and early resumption of work was expected.