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.
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.
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
Floods of 1936
The Western Gazette Friday 17th January 1936:
We believe the photo below is of this flood.
see also Gas Works
Inundation of the sea wall 1981
Follow this link for Frank Rogers’ first hand account of the storm and flood.