Awash with history
What on earth is the use of a local historian? Although some of the chosen areas of study by local historians are so esoteric as to be meaningless to ordinary mortals, this doesn't have to be the case. Finding the right local historian can save you a lot of money, especially if you are about to buy that cute cottage in the Stour Valley. Knowing where floods happen and how often is just one of the cases where being a local historian can provide a useful function. The general public seems to have amnesia over major weather events, and householders whose houses flood are curiously reluctant to pass the information on to prospective purchasers.
I was reminded of this recently when advising a niece on a house-purchase in Ballingdon. Nowadays, we remember the September 1967 flood as being the most severe, when water poured through ground-floor windows. However, there have been plenty of others. The January 1947 flood had a catastrophic effect in many parts of East Anglia. Ballingdon was badly hit because a haystack got stuck under one of the arches of the bridge. The floods of november 1762 destroyed several bridges and damaged Ballingdon bridge. In May 1824, owing to incessant rain lasting two days, the Stour at Ballingdon was so swollen it overflowed to such a degree that the inhabitants had to leave their homes.
in January 19th 1841, the water rose so high opposite All Saints Church and in Cross Street and Ballingdon that foot passengers were subject to a wetting and the roaring of the waters as it passed between the piles of Ballingdon bridge was so great it could be heard at a considerable distance, the 1st floors of several houses in Ballingdon were flooded. There was a huge flood in January 1887 when the rail bridge at Rodbridge over the Stour was nearly swept away. Near All Saints church in Church Street, Sudbury, the water was so high that people could not pass. One can imagine how much of Ballingdon was underwater then! January 1918 again found Ballingdon in trouble.
Of course one can go further back in time to see the same thing happening. On November the 4th 1520, the bridge was swept away, and wasn't rebuilt until the following year. Despite the fact that the rebuilt bridge was an eight-arch stone bridge, it was 'broken' by another flood in 1594.
One can go on and on. The same story can be told of so many of our villages, especially Melford, Clare and Cavendish. A quick trawl through the Newspaper archive on this site shows how often floods happen. the poet Michael Drayton wrote of the Stour at Sudbury in Queen Elizabeth Ist's time
"For Stour a dantie flood that duly doth divide
fair Suffolk from this shire, upon her other side.
By Clare first coming in, to Sudbury doth show
the even course she keeps, when far she does not flow"