St Neots floods of 1947 'the worst in living memory'

Mr Chalkley and Peter Hill pictured during the 1947 floods.

Mr Chalkley and Peter Hill pictured during the 1947 floods. - Credit: Archant

St Neots has had its fair share of flooding in recent years – but when the town was left underwater more than 70 years ago – damage was said to be "the worst in living memory".

The floods of 1947 left a trail of destruction, wrecking the livelihoods of many struggling in post-war Huntingdonshire. 

Damage from the floods, said to be the worst in living memory, ran into thousands of pounds.  

St Neots floods of 1947 'the worst in living memory'

St Neots floods of 1947 'the worst in living memory'. - Credit: Archant

Around 700 homes in St Neots and Eynesbury were affected by the rising water which reach more than three feet in St Neots High Street.  

The river water level at Eaton Socon was eight feel above normal.

Emergency rations were taken to families who were stranded in their homes and some people were without drinking water and fuel for several days. 

People living in Brook Street, had to be evacuated and were taken to a hastily set up emergency centre at the St Neots Youth Centre.  

Tomson and Lendrum staff are pictured during the 1947 floods.

Tomson and Lendrum staff are pictured during the 1947 floods. - Credit: Archant

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Shop manager Joseph Preachy had a narrow escape when his Austin car plunged into a swollen brook.  

He was rescued but a 100-worth of stock, including boots and shoes were washed away downstream. He told The Hunts Post he was “little worse for his experience”. 

Food had to be delivered to marooned families in Eaton Ford by army amphibious vehicles. People used boats on the Market Square. 

Linfords horse and cart at Barretts during the 1947 floods.

Linfords horse and cart at Barretts during the 1947 floods. - Credit: Archant

It was estimated that only 20 per cent of the floodwater was in the river channel. 

It is reported on nostalgia websites online that “St Neots was constantly under threat from floods”.  

Almost every other winter during the 19th century there were floods after heavy rains on frozen ground or during winter snow melt.   

The additional discharge of water from further upstream in the Ouse’s catchment area of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire meant the flood waters lasted three days, sometimes longer. 

About every three or four years the level would be higher and flood parts of Brook Street, Church Street and St Mary’s Street in Eynesbury.  

Sometimes the floods covered the Market Square and the west end of the High Street.