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Driffield deluge over 100 years ago

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

It seems as though extreme rainfall is characterising our weather more and more these days.

Maybe that's a misconception, but the fact remains that flood damage is a major problem for all too many people, and here in the Archives at the Treasure House in Beverley, some captivating historic images show that Driffield, the 'Capital of the Wolds' has been no stranger to the effects of flash flooding over the course of history.

Over one hundred years ago, the town of Driffield suffered the effects of a devastating torrent brought on by unusually heavy rainfall. On 20 May 1910, a surge of water came down from the Yorkshire Wolds and flooded many of the town's streets. The Driffield Beck overflowed and spread out across two hundred yards, flooding houses to a depth of around six feet. Bridges were swept away, which forced people to be evacuated by boat.

The archive images show just how severe the flooding was, and confirm that it must have been a frightening sight as the torrent rushed through the town.

Tragically, there was also a fatality, that of Dora Whitehand, aged one year and eleven months. She drowned at her home in Providence Place, and burial records, also held at the Treasure House, show that she was the daughter of Thomas Whitehand, a local labourer, who laid her to rest four days later on 24 May. A memorial plaque in the Cass Hall Community Centre in King Street now commemorates the devastating floods and sad loss of Dora, and here at the East Riding Archives we can also play our part in making sure that the memory of her short life is not forgotten.

The response to the flooding was swift, and this can be seen from the Treasure House's archives of the Driffield Urban District Council, in which the minutes of 21 May 1910 record that an order was made to begin disinfecting the streets and houses that had been affected by the recent floods. The Driffield Times newspaper archives at the Treasure House show that by 28 May a substantial number of generous citizens had already subscribed to the Driffield Flood Relief Fund to help compensate for the thousands of pounds worth of damage that was sustained.

To view archive material relating to the Driffield floods and read local books on the subject, please visit the Archives searchroom at the Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley www.eastriding.gov.uk/archives .

You can also see an image of the flooding on Exchange Street in our 'After the Storm' album on East Riding Archives Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/erarchives/albums

Photo on the left is Riverhead and right photo is Bridge Steet