RSP Home River Severn Tales Chris Witts



Floods are nothing new. The Romans protected their forts at Caersws and Forden by building embankments, but still the river rose over the bank. People living alongside the river have always accepted that they would suffer from the floods each year. Some parishes, like Minsterworth and Arlingham, Glos., would use some of

the church funds to pay for flood defence walls, but with no permanent effect.

Spring tides, or the Bore as it is commonly known, have a dramatic effect on the river when there is freshwater running. The incoming tide from the sea meets the freshwater at Gloucester and causes the river to rise a few feet and then to flood. To relieve the worst of the floods, the river has been

artificially widened for 7 miles below Gloucester.


















A flood known as The Duke of Buckingham's Water helped towards his defeat and death. Many people were drowned in their beds, as were animals in the fields. The same century saw 8ft of water in the friary at Shrewsbury. The Earl of Warwick, as he was buried in his parish church at Worcester, the locals stated that he would be drowned, not buried.

Many hundreds of men, women and children perished during this great flood, which was between Gloucester and the estuary. It was at 9 o'clock in the morning that large waves were to be seen coming up the river. This must have been the Bore, which would have met floodwater coming downstream.

Flood marks for these years are to be seen on the walls near Worcester Cathedral.

February: The deepest and the one that caused the most damage. The cause was due to 2 months of frost and snow, then a quick thaw resulting in much water flowing into the river.

     This was happening all over England and Wales. Many Severn bridges were swept away, including 16 in Shropshire alone.  [The great flood of 1947 was caused by the same reason].

The River Severn was flooded 5 times, but this year also had the longest drought in memory!

The Severn rose 18.5ft in 5 hours.

So much damage was done to Minsterworth Church, Glos., that the floor had to be raised by 4ft.

A train which had left Worcester during the floods, when it arrived at Bridgnorth the band of the Bridgnorth Rifles were playing See the Conquering Hero Comes

Flooding at Caersws destroyed the railway embankment and a train from Newtown went off the rails, killing the driver and fireman.

One of the highest recorded floods on the Severn

Haw Bridge at Tirley, Glos., hit by a tanker barge during floods. Bringing the bridge down onto the vessel, killing the skipper.

A major flood happens on average every 200 years. 1947 was the last one, but smaller, major floods have also occurred in these years.

20th July. 90mm of rain fell in Gloucester causing much localised flooding from watercourses and the Severn. Mythe Waterworks at Tewkesbury was knocked out resulting in Gloucester and Cheltenham being without water for some considerable time. ESRC Flood Memories

Haw Bridge Inn during summer level

Haw Bridge Inn during flooding

During the late 18th century England and Wales suffered 30 years of rain.

A similar weather pattern to which we have today!

The 1940s proved to be an interesting decade. Records broken regarding great floods, great frosts and great droughts.

It is not unknown for the Severn to ice over to a depth of nine inches for a length between fifty and one hundred miles. Sudden thaws then send massive ice flows pounding into bridges, as it did against Buildwas bridge in 1795.

Photomarine . Sharpness Shipping . Links . Gloucester Shipyard