Terrific storm and flooding Feb 1877

Liverpool Journal, Feb 3rd 1877





On Saturday night a severe gale broke out and continued through Sunday with increased force, snow and rain fell heavily in some parts of Scotland, the roads in Fifeshire are impassable due to snow wreaths. On Saturday a schooner was towed into Peterhead with loss of masts, the barque MECATOR from Bergen to Pensacola has put in for shelter in a disabled condition, the master reports one of the crew was washed overboard and drowned. Snow fell heavily on Sunday night on the east coast and drifted to a great depth.

Early on Saturday morning the ferry steamer WOODSIDE came into collision with the schooner STAR OF DUBLIN, which was lying in the river close to Birkenhead landing stage, the steamer had just left the stage when she struck the schooner on the port-bow, causing serious damage. The crew were got off and boarded the ferry, afterwards returning to the schooner which was towed to Monks Ferry slip and subsequently to Tranmere Pool for repair.

Between one and two pm on Sunday, signals of distress were hoisted off the port and the Liverpool and New Brighton lifeboats put off to assist the vessel, which turned out to be the smack DARLING of Beaumaris laden with a cargo of slates from Bangor to Liverpool. The smack had come to anchor between Formby and the Crosby lightships, her sails completely blown away. She was taken in tow by the tug HERCULES and brought to safety to anchor in the river off Tranmere.

The gale blew again between four and five am on Tuesday with redoubled fury, many a sleepless night was passed in consequence of the violent rattling of windows and the whistling of the wind on the housetops and down the chimneys, in several parts of the town the streets were laden with debris from slates and chimney pots blown down in the gale. At 6am there was fresh gales from the north west with heavy rain and hail which continued till after midday, when there was a strong flood tide which swept completely over the pier heads.

It was impossible for outward bound vessels to leave the Mersey, several large vessels and steamers dragged their anchors and were gradually carried up the river by the tide. The deck of the Landing Stage at midday was level with the pier head, and the great pontoon bridge bent and heaved to an alarming effect with the action of the waves, and was lifted at times to the height of the stone balustrade on the piers on either side, at this time not withstanding the difficulty of maintaining a footing and facing the spray which dashed across the stage, large numbers of people assembled and watched with excitement, the movement of the ferries buffeting hopelessly in midstream with the rushing current. Many steamers were carried completely out of their track and consequently there was a good deal of irregularity in the time and number of passages. A portion of the Brunswick Dock was carried away but shipping was in nowise endangered.

Between nine and ten am on Tuesday the “lookout” at New Brighton observed a barque in the Channel flying her ensign union down, her sails had blown away and her mainmast had been cut clear, she was drifting hopelessly towards Formby and it was evident she was in eminent peril. The Liverpool and New Brighton lifeboats were mustered and in face of wind and tide put off to assist the vessel. The New Brighton boat in tow of the UNIVERSE, the Liverpool boat in tow of the FURY, two powerful tugboats, it was with great difficulty that they reached the barque and found she was already in tow of the steam tug GUIDING STAR. With the assistance of the steamers and having the tide behind her she eventually reached the safety of the river and turned out to be the JOHN E. CHASE of Savannah laden with a cargo of cotton for this port. Having slipped both her anchors in the Channel, she held to the steam tug during the day and was docked safely on the night tide.

At 10am the No7 pilot boat lying close off Egremont dragged her anchors and fouled the barque EVANGELINE which was lying in the Sloyne outward bound. The pilot boat was towed by the steam-tug GREAT CONQUEST and brought safely into the Morpeth Dock.

Destruction of property at Bootle

At Bootle the wind increased to a gale with terrific squalls from the westward at 1 o’clock the sea was making a complete breach over the river wall at the North end causing a great deal of damage to the new dock works. Further along the shore the sea washed over the sea walls of several private houses flooding the gardens and penetrating into the lower apartments of the houses, two or three large conservatories had the glass roofs carried away and the buildings damaged. Several immense stocks of deal and other timbers in the timber yards were blown down the lighter portion of the timber became like chaff. The houses and shops at the north end of Regents Rd have been badly damaged. Plate glass windows have been blown in despite the protection of shutters, the debris of slate and chimney pots strewn in the roads show plainly the damage done to the roof tops.

In the Canada Half-tide dock and the Huskisson North and South Branch Docks many of the ships were with difficulty kept to moorings and they were damaged in their spars and rigging.


From 11 till 1 the tide overflowed the Ferry buildings at Woodside and passengers had to walk down planks laid on the flags. When the tide first made its eruption in the buildings the management employed three men with brooms to sweep it back , the men however fared no better than the illustrious Mrs PARKINSON when she valiantly sought to stem the surge of the Atlantic Ocean, the good old lady was a figure of speech invented by Sydney SMITH to show the folly of fighting against the inevitable, but the men at Woodside are facts.

The storm was felt with terrible severity especially at Hoylake and Leasowe, at the latter place is an embankment a mile and three-quarters in length, the northern front of which is built on a slant of about 50yds down to the beach from an elevation of about 20ft, the sea made a complete road over this embankment flooding the valley on the other side, any person standing at Birkenhead station on the Hoylake line could see the water rolling into the valley. The distance being two and a half miles, the embankment is very much damaged along the whole line, it is feared if the gales continue a breach will be made resulting in much damage to farms between Leasowe and Bidston.

Praise must be given to the lifeboat and tug crews for their gallant and persistent efforts in saving a barque in distress off Leasowe Lighthouse. A resident of Leasowe for 50yrs said that in his recollection there had been no tremendous gale and sea as was experienced on Tuesday.


The gale was very violent at Widnes throughout Monday night and Tuesday and at noon there was a higher tide than has been known in 14yrs. With one or two exceptions no attempt was made to remove any vessels from the canal, only one “flat” entered, the FREDERICK which was towed from Runcorn where several “flats” took shelter on Monday night, with rigging and sails more or less damaged. The tide was sufficiently high to wash over the corner of the dock, with the embankment having been built in the neighbourhood the progress of the waves was checked and the lower parts of the town kept free from the disastrous effects of the flood .The wind blew with great force, the roofs of houses throughout the district were in many instances destroyed, in the neighbourhood of the market a travelling-van belonging to Mr WILLIAMS was completely overturned, the contents embracing the scenery, and properties of a marionette entertainment being seriously damaged. 12yds of the boundary wall of the Wesleyan Chapel, Victoria Rd were blown down, while a large window was carried out of the sash in front of the Market Hotel. The roof of the market is seriously damaged several large pieces of glass have been torn out and carried into the body of the building. No personal injury has been recorded.


At Southport on Tuesday the tide rose to a great height sweeping over the Promenade and flooding houses built thereon, boats were taken away from their moorings and dashed to pieces whilst others foundered. Many of the “Swings” on the shore have been destroyed, one of the canoes belonging to the Southport Rowing Club has been swept out to sea. The Pier has withstood the storm having only slight damage. The farms around Southport are entirely flooded and great damage has been done to crops


Long before the time of high tide 12.9pm it was seen that the water would give the inhabitants trouble and many prepared themselves by boarding up windows and doors facing the sea, and using various means to keep the flood out of the cellars, in nearly every instance this was to no avail. The natural height of the tide was 20ft, but it was higher than it had been known for several years. Soon after noon the Promenade was impassable beyond Lane-ends Hotel and in some places north of that inn where the Promenade is supported on pillars the waves rushed beneath, and burst up the roadway in an explosion. In many places beyond Manchester House, further down South Shore, the embankment composed of vast blocks of stone has been damaged.

Iron railings in front of the Gardens have been torn away, their stone beds wrenched from their places. Five pillars of the North Pier near the entrance and several tie-rods have been broken by the violence of the waves. The cellars and ground floor apartments of the South Shore are flooded to a height of 2ft and the doors and windows smashed to match-wood. Bonny St behind Reed’s Baths was flooded to a depth of 5ft and the inmates had to take refuge in upper apartments. The Gas Works sustained some wind damage.


The wind did great damage in all parts of the town un-roofing buildings and demolishing chimney-stacks. The greatest damage occurred at the East Lancashire Railway station at 7-15am, a terrific gust of wind tore off the western side of the roofing of the booking-office, turning it upside down and breaking it into fragments, almost into the place it previously occupied, timbers were strewn across the platform and rails. Several yards of roof about the platform at the southern end of the booking-offices were blown clean away. As there was expected to be a 26-28ft tide at Blackpool scores of people left Preston by the early trains to watch its effect, it is expected to be its full height at noon.


At 9.30 a portion of the roof of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Co’s potato market, Oldham Rd, gave way and fell with a great crash, the continued rain is affecting other parts of the roof which are considered unsafe. The river Irwell is between 8-9ft above the ordinary level, the low-lying districts are fearing a recurrence of the misfortunes they have so frequently been visited of lately. The large semi-circular roof of the stand at Abbey Hey Gardens, Gorton was carried away by the wind, such was the violence of the wind that it lifted the foundation stone of the solid iron columns, the wall plates in which it was fastened and the whole roof in tact, the roof weighed 25tons.


A severe gale was experienced on Tuesday in the Barrow and in the Furness district, the ships had great difficulty holding their moorings in the docks and harbour. The tide was the highest reached for several years being 29ft 6ins on the dock sill. The quays and the caisson of the graving dock were overflowed. The schooner HANNAH of Dublin, Capt NICHOLLS was driven ashore during the morning in the gale but was saved by the Barrow tugboat. There is still a strong wind and heavy sea.

The North East Coast

A very severe gale passed over the North of England on the North-east coast, at about 10am at Stockton on Tuesday a high brick wall was blown into a shed where a number of men were at work, knocking half of it down. Four men were severely injured, one is not expected to live. Another man named BRIGNAN was killed on the spot. About midday telegraphic communications between the North and London had been stopped, but it was subsequently partially restored.

The Midlands

The Midlands was visited by a terrific gale on Tuesday, trees were uprooted and the roofs of houses carried away, in some parts there are again terrible floods, the rivers in a very flooded condition, in some places overflowing their banks into the meadows.

Wales railway traffic interrupted

A terrific storm of hail, rain and wind blew from the South-west all day on Monday and Tuesday with the violence of a hurricane and caused great damage and interruption to the traffic on the Cambrian and Welsh Coast railways. The down train from Pwllheli was stopped at Towyn by the inroads of the sea on the line between that place Aberdovey and Machynlleth, so that all communication by rail was stopped as the line was washed away for a considerable distance. Telegraph poles and wires have also suffered considerably. On the Aberystwith line all communication was interrupted at Glandovey, the station next to Mochynlleth and the point of the junction for the Welsh Coast section leading from there to Towyn, Barmouth and Pwllheli.

The storm on the coast had been one of the most violent experienced for many years, the sea literally running “mountains high” and its effect on the embanked coast line may be readily imagined. Mr George OWEN. C.E of the Cambrian Railways and a large staff of men left Oswestry for the scene of the disaster as soon as it was known. The line was impassable on Monday night, by the time it had receded it was found to have washed away large portions of the line, trains must be stopped for some time. Mr WALKER the locomotive superintendent of the company left Oswestry on Tuesday afternoon with a ballast train to repair the breaches in a permanent way. The Dovey, Severn and Virniew rose to a great height and in many places overflowed their banks.

The gales in the Vale of Clwyd have been terribly severe, at Rhyl the sea has been boisterous but the damage done slight, in the town though the wind has done a good deal of injury to buildings and houses and above Rhyl a portion of the railway bank was carried away.

At Denbigh the gale was severe and a good deal of damage was done to roofs and chimneys hundreds of acres of land are under water in the vicinity of Clwyd. Near Mostyn station a portion of the railway line was washed into the sea, in consequence the Irish mail was sent round by Denbigh.

Llandudno Tuesday

A violent storm broke last night causing considerable damage to the pile driving in progress on the sands in connection with the new drainage works on Conway shore. At noon the sea completely broke over the parade, such has not been known since the wreck of the Royal Charter. The new pier stood the test admirably. At Llanrwst and Bettws-y-coed in consequence of the embankment having given way between Talycafn and the abbey only the 9 o’clock train was able to go up the line from the junction, traffic afterwards stopped. There was a very high tide at Abergele completely covering the railway and adjoining fields. The 11.30 train from Bangor was detained and all passengers alighted. Considerable damage was done to the wall opposite the Colwyn Bay Hotel.

Aberystwith Tuesday evening

Last night the storm was most violent in Cardigan Bay causing great damage all along the coast, the tide was so high that the sea broke into several lodging-houses on the parade. The wall protecting houses at Victoria Terrace gave way, the waves breaching the promenade and a considerable portion of it was washed away. Fears are that if the storm continues and tonight’s tide be like that already witnessed several handsome lodging-houses will be undermined and demolished. This afternoon people are engaged in removing furniture and a large number of men, horses and carts are at work filling up the gaps in the sea wall. The pier in the harbour was considerably damaged. In Monmouth there has been immense damage.


At Dundee high tides prevailed on Tuesday, and at all Scotch ports on the east-coast the wind blew with hurricane force. Huge breakers swept over the pier at Macduff harbour and the works at the breakwater suffered extensive damage. Several tons of concrete were washed away at the new harbour at Gardenstown, reports that snow is falling in the north of Scotland and a storm is raging with no appearance of abatement.

At Kirkcaldy the roof of the new school sheds was carried away 40yds causing £400 worth of damage. There is no abatement of the storm in the inland districts at Kingussie the snow is the heaviest known for 17yrs, the mail coach from Kingussie to Fort William had not gone 3miles when it was enveloped in a drift, the passengers, many of whom were guests of Sir John RAMSDEN at Ardverikie had to descend and grope their way on foot.


At Lahinch, County Clare, the storm had swept away the sea wall hurling debris in all directions and endangering the houses parallel to the beach. Within the last few years the building and reconstruction of the breakwater has cost the county over £4.000. Lahinch which boasts one of the finest strands in Europe is a watering-place on the estate of Capt STACKPOOL. M.P for Ennis.

General reports

The Admiralty pier Dover is damaged.

At Chippenham 100 trees have been blown down.

At Wednesbury a man was killed through the blowing down of a wall.

A landslip occurred near Swindon, 8 acres with three cottages have slipped from the side of a hill, inhabitants escaped.

At Boston, Lincolnshire, the tide was extraordinary high and gales severe on the coast.

At Birmingham two men were killed and several terribly injured by the fall of a chimney at Messers DEAKINS Works on Tuesday morning.

At London a chimney at Lett’s Wharf, Commercial Rd, fell killing one woman and injuring thirteen others, several it is feared fatally.

At Rochdale a wall left standing after the fire at Ladyhouse Spinning Co’s mills, was blown down killing two men and injuring a third.

At the port of Malden the tide reached above the mark reached in 1874, the low lying districts are flooded, chimneys and fences have been destroyed and there is slight damage to shipping.

Warwickshire suffered considerable damage by the terrific gale, the like not witnessed for many years. In rural districts between Rugby and Stafford trees were blown down, the roofs and window panes in houses were severely damaged. A newly erected workshop at Coventry belonging to Mr GARDNER was blown to a total wreck.

At a meeting at the Bridgewater Inundation Relief Committee a very large number of persons are stated to be homeless.

In Western Zoyland eight houses have been washed down, for two days it had been impossible for anyone to come from or go to Bridgewater even in boats. The rural postman has two days accumulation of mail.

The Parish Church of Northmoor Green has been inaccessible since Christmas.

At Warrington and adjacent districts hundreds of acres of land are under water. In Arpley the fields present the view of an expansive lake, all cattle having had to be removed to avoid destruction. The Cheshire side shows similar results owing to the surplusage of water overflowing from the Irwell and the Mersey. Considerable damage has been done to land sown with wheat which will militate against the next harvest. Houses on the banks of the river at Warrington have their cellars filled with water. Yesterday the Mersey was still rising, its height higher than it has been for 11yrs.

Shipping disasters

Burnham Somerset, steamer JONES BROTHERS was sunk.

Barque CONSTANTINE of Sunderland wrecked on Scroby Island off Yarmouth, crew saved.

Monday the TROW AVON from Sydney to Bristol foundered on Dunball Island in the Bristol river, Captain and one passenger drowned, two men rescued by Cardiff pilot boat.

New York, ADA IREDALE from Androssan for San Francisco, abandoned on fire, crew saved.

Sunday night off Dungeness, the BEN LEVI from London to Wellington New Zealand, four crew washed overboard and drowned.

The Underwriters at Lloyds fear the steamer CEDRIC, 910 tons from Danube to Falmouth with a cargo of grain and 26 men and the HALLEY 882 tons, from Odessa to Falmouth with grain and 24 men, have foundered in the Bay of Biscay with all on board, both are owned in North Sheilds and left in early December last.

The crew of the wrecked schooner LIZZIE MALE of Padstow rescued by the lifeboat PENDOCK NEALE on the Cornish coast.

At Plymouth the French barque MARIE, Capt PREVAL from Harve in ballast for Hayti and the Norwegian, three-masted brigantine HEIMDAL, Capt HAAVIG from Alloa with coals for Demerara collided at 6am, 8miles W.S.W, of the Eddystone, the MARIE sank with her Captain, carpenter and one seaman and a boy, two mates, a steward and four seamen got on the HEIMDAL and were brought here. The HEIMDAL lost her head gear and started a leak.


Copyright 2002 / To date