PICTURES of a flooded Skipton in the last Craven Diary sparked off memories for many, including Roger Ingham who was flooded out of his home twice. Roger also took these pictures, and has shared with us some of his memories of three floods in the 1960s and 1970s.



MY picture of a badly flooded Skipton in the last Craven Diary sparked off some memories of no other than ‘Mr Skipton’ , Roger Ingham.

Roger tells me not only did he probably take the photograph of a flooded Keighley Road in June, 1979, that I featured, a couple of weeks back, but he took many more, and has hunted them out for us.

Roger, who has a photographic memory for dates and names, and was himself flooded out of his home as a young man, along with his family, has provided me with some fascinating details of the flood of 1979 when a sudden downpour put much of Skipton under several feet of water.

Despite the flood being described by the authorities as a ‘once in a century event’ it was the third in the space of 12 years, and one of five to hit the town between 1967 and 1999. Of course, the town is now protected by flood defences, including a very efficient dam at Skipton Golf Club - much to the relief of its current residents, and the members of the golf club - I understand the course is back to being used just hours after the heaviest of downpours.

In the picture of Keighley Road, looking towards Caroline Square, taken in June, 1979, Roger mentions the crowd of people gathered on the far embankment, just below the Woolly Sheep.

If you look carefully, you can see a Mini car which Roger believes was initially washed into Meakin’s shop, behind the Laycock’s van.

“The Mini was washed into the shop via a tidal wave caused by a heavy goods vehicle which tried to drive through the floods when the water was still rising,” says Roger, who adds the driver was ‘subsequently hammered in court’.

In his picture of the bottom of Bunker’s Hill near the junction with Newmarket Street, and with the fairly new court building in the background, the partially submerged van belonged to Burgess Electrician of Keighley Road and was being driven by Dennis Fletcher who, says Roger, had to ‘climb out and swim for it’.

In the boat, ferrying people to safety at the junction of Bobby’s Hill, Shortbank Road and Brougham Street, were rugby player, Mick Jaunzems, with his back to the camera, Ian Baraclough and Robert Heseltine.

Roger says residents of Petyt Grove and Brookside were ferried to safety by the men to higher ground. Some of the flood water was neck deep. One elderly lady sadly died a short while after being rescued.

Amongst the stars of the clean up, says Roger were Derek Grainger, Neville Tomkins, Jim ‘Bull’ Skelton and Norman Robinson, who in their spare time, after work and at weekends, cleaned up and then re-decorated all the flooded bungalows at Shortbank Close, and many at Petyt Grove.

Roger says that the 1979 flood was the third over 12 years - including in 1965 and in 1968.

His family had moved from high up in Shortbank Road to Chapel Hill and had been there for less than two years when in 1967 there was a ‘loud banging and a shouting through the letter box in the middle of the night’.

It was the fire brigade who wanted the keys to his van as it had been carried off to the corn mill from its usual parking spot outside his house, and was blocking the way for the fire engine to get through to the badly flooded corn mill and pump out the flood water.

“As soon as I opened the door to the firemen, a tidal wave swept in, so I promptly slammed the door shut and passed the keys through the letter-box,” says Roger.

Roger’s van was never the same again, so he replaced it with a car - unfortunately, the car was to prove just as unlucky.

A short time later, on a Monday evening in the early summer of 1968, a ‘dirty black cloud swept across town from the direction of Lothersdale and then suddenly, the Heavens opened’ he says.

Roger tried to move his car, but it was too late. “Such was the force of the water pouring down Chapel Hill, my motor set off in the opposite direction; firstly up a slight incline; then across Raikes Road and along the aptly named Water Street.”

Many homes were flooded and one woman had to be rescued from her upstairs bedroom window, said Roger

At Roger’s home, the initial surge of water through the coal-shoot into the cellar, brought a number of rats into the property. Once again, the family had a lot of cleaning up to do.

A QUICK look at what was happening 50 years ago and its a strong case of Deja Vu. In the Craven Herald of March 3, 1972, it was reported that the Skipton Rural District Council had received Government information on local government reorganisation.

The memo included information from the Home Office, of not just one election, but three in 1973. There were to be elections for the new county of Lancashire, the new county of West Yorkshire, and the new metropolitan district of West Yorkshire.

The Lancashire County Council, taking in Barnoldswick and Earby, was to have 97 councillors; West Yorkshire, taking in South Craven, was to have 88, while the metropolitan district, Addingham and Kildwick, 93 councillors.

District council elections were also to take place in 1973, after the county elections and after the approval of wards, which was due to take place at the end of 1972.