Skip to main content


Title: Defying the disaster : memories of the 1947 floods and 50 years of flood protection in the Midlands
Author: Environment Agency Midlands Region
Document Type: Monograph
The statistics tell something of the story of the floods of 1947. They came in March, after one of the most severe winters this century, a winter which added hugely to the burdens borne by post-war Britain. Months of blizzards, of high winds and heavy rain, devastated food production, disrupted fuel supplies, isolated communities and paralysed transport. Two million sheep and lambs, and 30,000 cattle, perished. Around 200,000 acres of winter corn and 30,000 tonnes of potatoes were destroyed. After that, large parts of the country had to cope with flooding on a scale not seen for generations. Consider the falls of rain and of snow: in 1946, the national average precipitation was just under 42 inches, nearly 20 per cent higher than average. In the first three months of 1947, it was 12.21 inches - nearly half as much again as the average for the same three months in the preceding 35 years. These heavy and persistent falls met ground which, gripped by a severe frost throughout the winter, could not absorb it. In the early days of March, as it continued to rain and snow and the ground remained impervious, much of the rainfall drained directly into watercourses, swelling them dangerously. Meanwhile, great banks of snow built up, particularly in the hills. A sudden thaw developed from March 9, 1947, and these deep snow banks melted rapidly. The water ran off the ground, which remained frozen, and into already-swollen streams and rivers. Several inches of snow-melt ran off in the space of 24 hours. And all the time, it continued to rain. It was more, far more, than the rivers could take. The catchments of the Severn and Trent were not to escape the devastation which the floods ultimately brought to 690,000 acres of land nationally. The statistics tell something, but not all, of the story.
Publisher: Environment Agency
Publication Date: 1997
Publication Place: Solihull
Subject Keywords: FloodingHistoryFlood controlRiversFlood risk managementFlood defence structures
Geographic Keywords: Midlands (England)Trent (England)DerbyshireNottingham
Extent: n.p.[27]
Total file downloads: 394

Download PDF    Display PDF in separate tab