After recording the wettest April for more than 100 years, the South West has been removed from ‘drought alert’ status. More than 7.7 inches of rain fell during the month which is however nothing compared to the 9 inches of rain that fell on Exmoor in just 24 hours preceding the devastating Lynmouth flood of August 1952.
It’s been 60 years since the worst post-war flood the UK has ever seen ravaged the pretty coastal village of Lynmouth, North Devon. The tragedy cost the village dearly and 34 lives were lost as well as all the boats in the harbour, the harbour itself and almost half the buildings.
Whether the terrible storm and continual torrential rains were caused by natural or more suspicious man-made efforts – yes we have our own conspiracy theories here on Exmoor – the village has commemorated the tragedy every 15 August for the past 60 years.
In 2002 at the 50 year memorial service, Town Councillor Suzette Hibbert remembers: “A huge marquee was erected and we had the most wonderful congregation peppered with Bishops, the Lord Lieutenant and even the High Commissioner of Jamaica who was invited because after the flood bananas and sugar were sent from Jamaica to help the community!”
Lynmouth has moved forwards and now replaces the sombre memorial tone of the past with a Walk of Witness, a Songs of Praise service and a week-long flower festival.
The flower festival in St John the Baptist Church, Lynmouth begins on 11 August. On 15 August two ‘Walks of Witness’ will follow the course of both the East and West Lyn Rivers down to Lynmouth led by National Trust Rangers Julian Gurney and Daniel Ford and accompanied by Reverend Philip Ringer and the Right Reverend Alan Winstanley. There will be an open-air Songs of Praise service on the Manor Green where members of the Lynmouth community who survived will be reading the lessons and taking a major part in the service. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Suzette adds: “The service of praise commemorates the flood by reading all the names of those who died but with the music and the flowers we cannot help but move on.” Opposite Lynmouth Harbour is the Flood Memorial Hall. This permanent free exhibition includes a scale model of the village pre-flood and many personal accounts and photos.
For more detail contact: Suzette Hibbert 01598 753587 firstname.lastname@example.org