A battered but superb 1907 image of a butchers shop that was probably in Crowland given the poster on the far left of the image.
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 !
A lovely August 1933 image of two ladies, marked on the back of the print as “Mrs Wilson & Lily”, retrieving water from Horseshoe Bridge on Peterborough Road in Crowland.
The bridge still exists today albeit the adjacent Horseshoe Farm has gone. The two ladies would have been 62 year old Elizabeth Ann Wilson who was the wife of a labourer at the farm and her 20 year old daughter Lily Wilson.
The photographer also comments that the waterway below, known as Old Pepper Lake, had previously been used to transport a bell to Crowland Abbey albeit the size and location of the drain would make that claim hard to believe !
A nice undated image showing the much photographed Trinity Bridge at Crowland which dates back to the 14th century but sits on the site of a wooden bridge that dates back more than 400 years earlier.
The unique three-arch design originally spanned the River Welland and one of its tributaries that ran through the village …… both of which have long since been re-routed well away from the bridge.
A Peterborough bound bus waiting on North Street, Crowland in 1954.
Alan Watkins adds ….. “This is a former London Transport STL. When they were displaced by the then “new” RT, many of these vehicles found their way to local operators and contractors.”