Crowland Floods (1947)

Thanks to Phil Green for this fascinating image capturing the source of the Crowland Floods of 1947.

The Winter of 1947 had been a bitterly cold one and it was compounded when in early March there were strong gales and heavy snowstorms, creating blizzard conditions. Heavy snow fall created drifts up to 15 feet in some parts of the UK.

When the the cold weather ended, the temperatures rose rapidly causing a fast thaw of the lying snow which created serious problems as the still frozen ground caused run off into the streams and rivers. Compounded by hurricane force winds on 16th March, floodwater waves started to pound flood defences and, on Friday 21st March 1947, the old River Welland course breached its banks and water poured quickly onto the surrounding land until Crowland itself was completely surrounded by water, becoming a virtual island. The water eventually reached as far as English Drove, north of Thorney, and as far south as the railway line at Eye. The only route in or out of Crowland was via the B1040 towards Thorney.

On 24th March, due to the difficult access to the site, a three quarter mile stretch of light railway was laid from Crowland to the breach so that stone could be transported to build an encircling wall. The stone to fill the breach came from quarries at Helpston and Yarwell so it had take a roundabout route via Thorney. Villagers, R.E cadets and German Prisoners worked to build stone causeways either side of the breach.

On 26th March, Brigadier G Younghusband, Deputy Commander of the North Midlands District, hatched a “cunning plan” by bringing in 16 amphibious “Water Buffalo” tanks (aka LVT- Landing Vehicle Tracked). The plan was to create a “tank barricade” to reduce or stop the flow of water so repairs could progress faster. The tanks where placed at the extremes of the stone causeways rather than in the breach itself as the tremendous pressure of the water had eroded a hole 28 feet below ground level – the height of two double decker-buses.

On the 29th March, the breach was officially declared “sealed” and work started on pumping water back off the surrounding land ….. but it wasn’t quite resolved just yet !

On Friday 11th April, a second breach occurred at 7am when the water forced its way under five of the LVT’s and they were swept away. The Peterborough Citizen and Advertiser reported the tanks “whirled away like matchsticks”. Three of the tanks were sucked down into the 28 foot hole created by the original breach.

The following day, a further 12 tanks were brought in from York to reinforce the bank repairs and on 21st April, the breach was declared sealed for a second and final time.

Today, the site of the breach is still marked by a rectangular pond with surrounding banks that, according to news reports at the time, still hold 25 buried tanks as well as three vehicles at the foot of the pond itself !


The Light Railway top right
The “tank barricade”
The breach site in 2018 with the old river course on the left

Thompson’s Furniture (c.1914)

The corner of Westgate and Lincoln Road around 1914, later the premises of “Johnson’s Corner” but in the early 1900s it was the base for the Thompson family who were furniture dealers/wood turners/cabinet makers.

The business was established by George Thompson (b.1835) but at this point his son Charles Joseph Thompson was named on the shop signs.

Previously the same building had been home to an undertaker !

Peterborough & Fletton FC Programme (1930)

The match day programme from Peterborough & Fletton FC’s home fixture with Southampton Reserves on 3rd May 1930.

The club was formed by the merger of Peterborough City and Fletton United in 1923 but failed in an attempt to enter the Football League in 1927 and eventually folded after a miserable 1931/32 season in the Southern League.

The club was replaced in 1934 by today’s Peterborough United FC.

Copper Halfpenny Token (1667)

Copper halfpenny token issued in 1667 by George Hamerton of Peterborough.

In the first half of the 17th century the copper coinage in England was in disarray. The King took little interest in providing small denominations and farmed out the Royal prerogative of minting of coppers to courtiers as patentees – Lords Harrington, Richmond, Lennox and Maltravers.  The result of this was a poor, lightweight  coinage that was exceedingly detested by the public.  So after the civil war, with the Royal Prerogative  removed and an essential need for small copper change to facilitate the day-to-day financial transactions of ordinary folk, merchants, innkeepers and city authorities started to make their own pennies, halfpennies and farthings.

They were redeemable in the shop or office of the issuer and to make it easier for the illiterate poor, the coins often exhibit a pictorial clue as to where it came from – such as the guild arms of the issuer, an inn sign or an object that he sold such as a stick of candles or a roll of tobacco.

George Hamerton was a grocer, so his token flies the Guild of Grocers arms.


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