Major Storms and Floods


There is a record from 30th January 1607 of a huge flood of the Bristol Channel, including the Burnham area, which came without any warning. About 30 villages on the levels were inundated including Berrow, Mark, Lympsham, brean and South & East Brent. The height the water reached is shown on the external wall of The Holy Cross Church at Mark. The waters reached inland as far as Glastonbury Tor. There is a report of 28 drownings at Huntspill. The event was the subject of a London pamphlet entitled “God’s Warning to His People of England.” It seems that the most likely explanation is that this was a ‘storm surge’ similar to that which occured in East Anglia in 1953, the contemporaneous accounts of the weather conditions are said to support this theory. Another hypothesis has been proposed, based on the nature of certain eyewitness accounts, that it could have been a Tsunami. However the lack of evidence of  any immediate causal event for such a wave seems to reduce the likelihood of this.

Contemporary depiction of the 1607 flood. The church is thought to be St Mary’s at Nash, near Newport.

An interesting video about the 1607 flood can be seen here:


The Great Storm of 1703

The book ‘Avalon and Sedgemoor’ by Desmond Hawkins mentions this storm, which afflicted a large part of the south. London suffered a million poinds worth of damage and the Royal Navy lost 12 ships and 1,500 men. Bishop Kidder of Wells was killed by a falling chimney, together with his wife. The south westerly winds sent tides 4 feet over sea defences. Floods spread for 6 miles inland, causing the Bridgwater to Bristol Rd to become impassable in places. Daniel Defoe noted that several vessels were blown ashore and grounded in meadows near the salt works at Burnham. We have no other information about these works.

Severe Gales of 1856 – 63

Below is a report in The Taunton Courier of 22nd October 1856. Note the mention of the Spa pump house, and the destruction of the old Lifeboat House which predated the purpose built structure in Pier St.

A report headed ‘Burnham’  in the Western Daily Press on  Saturday 29th October 1859. Of note here is the mention of the damage to the Customs House boat house where, it seems,  the lifeboat was now being temporarily  housed:

In 1863 there was once more damage to the Customs House boat house and the lifeboat itself, mentioned here in The Bristol Mercury of 5th December 1863 :


Severe Gales  1883

The report below is from the Western Gazette of Friday 26th October 1883.

The report went on to  mention widespread damage around the country.

It was as a result of these floods and their contamination of the wells providing normal water supply that pipes were laid for a new clean water supply from Winscombe.

Mrs Julia Dupuis was instrumental in achieving this and there are two additional news clippings from 1900, describing the 1883 floods among materials in her ‘Diary’, together with a photo of high seas from October 1883.


Snow Storm March 1891


Severe Gales  1897

Another clipping from Mrs Dupiuis’ history:

See the account of the wreck of the Nornen on the Crashes and Wrecks page.

1903 (Sept 10th)

A fishy story:

The Mercator & the tug Bonita



Exact date and source not known – cutting from Dupuis Diaries.

Floods of 1936

The Western Gazette Friday 17th January 1936:

We believe the photo below is of this flood.

Photo courtesy of Ann Popham.

see also Gas Works

Inundation of the sea wall 1981

This image and the following ones were kindly provided by the Environment Agency and are their copyright.
This image and the following ones were kindly”supplied courtesy of the Environment Agency ©” . Taken on the morning of 14 December following the storm
Looking South with flood water remaining along the river Parrett and stockland
Looking South with flood water remaining along the river Parrett and Stockland. Note the flood water on Steart Island.

Dec 13 1981

Western Daily Press 3rd Nov 1983, courtesy of Cedric May.

Follow this link for Frank Rogers’ first hand account of the storm and flood.

See more images here.

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