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THE STORY OF 1927 KEPPLE COVE DAM BURST WHICH FLOODED GLENRIDDING

Another Overnight Disaster

Storm Desmond was not the first time Glenridding has been devastated by flood water. On the night of the 28th and 29th October 1927 Kepple Cove Dam burst sending a sending a torrent of water and debris down Glenridding Beck and into Glenridding village. Once again the disaster was preceded by heavy rainfall and gale force winds, with 3.38 inches of rain recorded in 12 hours. The dam burst around 01:30 am and the surge of water caused huge damage - ripping out Rattlebeck Bridge at Gillside Farm, damaging nearby Rattlebeck Cottage where the Parker family had a narrow escape, sweeping into the village and devastating the shops on Eagle Road before hitting and damaging Glenridding Bridge, and flowing into the Millcrest Hotel (now the Glenridding Hotel) where another drama unfolded. At that time the servants of the hotel all slept in the basement and Ernest Thompson, the hotels “Boots” had to break a window to escape the flood waters, before realised that four of the servant girls were still trapped in their room, clinging to a matress floating towards he ceiling in the rising water. Eventually Ernest and the hotel owner’s daughter, Miss Nellie Millcrest, were able to pull the girls to safety.

In terms of other damage to the village the story in 1927 will seem very familiar to those who experienced Storm Desmond. The village hall basement and caretakers cottage was flooded, The Cooperative store (which is where The Glenridding Mini Market and Catstycam Outdoor shop now are) was devastated, with a huge counter being thrown through the window. Walton’s general store and post office (now Sharmans and the Glenridding Gallery) was similarly badly hit. A Herald newspaper report from the time uses many understandable First World War analogies, saying that “Dawn Shows Village Like Flanders Battlefield”  and Jenkins Field resembling “No Mans Land” with the field “not unlike a Flanders  Battlefield, with a dead pig and a few dead sheep in the middle of it … sand, tree roots and large boulders, which were spread all over the roadway mixed at places with three feet of mud”.  The article also tells of other lucky escapes including a beagle who despite having been asleep in his kennel which was washed down Ullswater, turned up later in the day alive and well.  As in 2015 much debris was washed into the lake and ended up on the opposite shore by Side Farm, including apparently “a tea hut, furniture, wireless sets, dead sheep and meal chests”. Several trout from Kepplecove tarn ended up in unusual places including the cellar of the hotel and “the houses of Messrs Elliot and Holdway, while a half-pounder was found in the roadside opposite Mr Garthwaite’s house”.

As in 2015 the villagers all rallied together to clean up the mess and devastation, forming an emergency committee to oversee the recovery which included the replacement of the bridge in Glenridding.

Let’s hope this particular historical episode has repeated itself for the last time!


1927 FLOOD

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