Look at the manicured lawns, the peaceful shimmering water and the solid dam wall. This was the starting point of so much death and destruction one night in 1864….
It’s difficult, sometimes, to go fishing on the Five Rivers, especially the Loxley and the Don, and not think about the Sheffield Flood of 1864. We may not recognise the date, but thousands of people living in Sheffield today will have heard of t’ flood.
Over 250 people died as a result of the Dale Dyke Dam collapsing. A ‘three storey’ wall of water swept down the Loxley and Don Valleys. Death and destruction ensued. Water carried bodies and wreckage as far as Rotherham, Mexborough and Doncaster. The force of the flood was almost spent in Doncaster but, even there, some cellars were flooded – a distance of well over twenty miles from the stricken dam wall, a mile or so west of Low Bradfield.
In Peter Machan’s brilliant book* he says:
“The tumult caused as the flood swept down the valley that dismal night disturbed more than the bed of the river. It stirred the mud of mid-Victorian society, revealing its poverty, squalor and shame.”
It seems strange that the country’s greatest loss of life during peacetime, appears to be consistently ignored by any authority. There are monuments the length and breadth of the UK to unfortunate events resulting in death and destruction. Perhaps there ought to be a constructive discussion regarding the potential for a monument, somewhere in Sheffield, to the victims of events that happened on the night of 11th March 1864.
*Peter Machan, 1999, The Dramatic Story of the Sheffield Flood of March 11th 1864, 3rd Edition, Sheffield, ALD Design and Print.