MEMORY LANE: Do you remember the Buxton floods of 1973 and 1998?

Buxton Advertiser archive,October 1998, Lightwood Road area floods
Buxton Advertiser archive,October 1998, Lightwood Road area floods
  • Lightwood Road area suffered almost identical floods in 1973 and 1998
  • 1973 event saw record-breaking 874mm of rain falling in just 24 hours
  • Blocked culvert caused a second flood to compound the misery for residents

People often joke that “if Buxton ever floods, then we really are in trouble!”

Twice in the past 50 years one area has suffered extensive floods following storms that dropped enormous quantities of rain.

As you can see from the archive pictures in our online gallery, the Lightwood Road area suffered almost identical floods in both 1973 and 1998. The YouTube video footage of the ‘98 floods, which was recorded by the late Gordon Sleigh, also shows the devastation.

Water pouring down from the hills turned the streams feeding the River Wye into torrents and the massive amounts of rain simply overwhelmed the watercourses and drains.

The floods covered Ashwood Park, the roundabout at the bottom of Fairfield Road and were waist deep in the streets around the bottom of Lightwood Road.

The water rose incredibly quickly and then fell almost as fast, leaving a trail of destruction behind.

A fireman comes to the rescue of a resident in the Lightwood Road area in July 1973.

A fireman comes to the rescue of a resident in the Lightwood Road area in July 1973.

Both floods were over in a matter of hours but left householders with months of repairs.

To make matters worse, in 1973, when a record-smashing 874mm of rain fell in 24 hours, there were two floods in one day.

Householders returning to their homes to begin cleaning up didn’t know that a second flood was being held behind a blocked culvert further up the valley.

When that gave way, a wall of mud descended on the victims for the second time in a few hours.

Buxton Advertiser archive,October 1998, Lightwood Road area floods

Buxton Advertiser archive,October 1998, Lightwood Road area floods

Both years there were considerable difficulties elsewhere in the district.

In 1973 the New Mills to Chinley railway was closed by a landslide and there was flooding around the Chinley and Chapel areas.

In 1998 as the water passed further down the Wye there was significant flooding in Ashford and Bakewell.

It’s worth noting that neither flood occurred during the winter – and the 1973 one took place in the middle of July!

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