Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Great Sheffield Flood event brings families together 150 years on

On 11 Mar 1864, 150 years ago today, the Dale Dike Dam at Bradfield collapsed causing a devastating flood.  Water swept down the Loxley valley through Low Bradfield on down to Hillsborough and into Sheffield destroying mills, grinding wheels and warehouses as well as inns and domestic dwellings.  Over 4,000 houses were flooded and 240 deaths were reported.

Last weekend a commemorative event organised by Bradfield Parish Council at Bradfield Village Hall brought together 1,500 people, many of whom travelled thousands of miles, to remember their ancestors lost in the Great Sheffield Flood.  Visitors were able to read first-hand accounts and find the names of their ancestors in the volumes brought along by Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library.

Two of the visitors we met were Millie Carter and Judith Hall.  They found out they were related by researching their family trees and met only recently.  They lost most of their ancestors in the Great Sheffield Flood.  They were able to find the Wostenholme, Spooner and Sellars families in the Sheffield Police Book from Sheffield Archives – a long and sad list of whole families that perished.  The only survivor that terrible night was their great-great-grandmother, Emma Wostenholme who was away in Wales with her husband.  She later had a son called Wilfred and the family line survived.  Many more remarkable tales were shared over the weekend of loss, survival and the bringing together of families 150 years after this devastating event.

The Chairman of the British Dam Society will unveil a new memorial stone at Dale Dike Reservoir tomorrow (12 March) at 11am and further events are scheduled this week: http://www.mick-armitage.staff.shef.ac.uk/sheffield/flood/anniversary.html

If any of your ancestors were affected by the Great Sheffield Flood, search the Flood Claims website set up by Sheffield Archives and Sheffield Hallam University: https://www2.shu.ac.uk/sfca/  This lists everyone who made a claim for loss of property, bodily injury or loss of life.  The original ledgers are available to view at Sheffield Archives.

Pictured (above): Millie Carter and Judith Hall finding their ancestors in the archives, Bradfield Village Hall, 8 March 2014; extract from a Flood Claim ledger detailing the claim made by a confectioner for cough drops, lemon lozenges, aniseed balls, everton toffy etc.