A Complete History of The Great Flood at Sheffield
by Samuel Harrison
Web Page 38

(125 contd.)

Mr. JAMES DODWORTH--(Cheers)--moved the following resolution:

"That as the majority of the victims by the recent melancholy calamity were of the working class, this meeting feels that a most serious and solemn duty devolves not only upon it but upon the entire of the working men of Sheffield? calling upon all imperatively to assist in alleviating the sufferings of the bereaved, or those impoverished by that occurrence; and hereby pledges itself to assist in forwarding the raising of subscriptions to the relief fund by the working classes of the town generally."

Mr. W. DRONFIELD seconded the resolution, and urged the trades of the town to act unitedly in the matter, in order to raise as large a sum as possible.

Mr. H. WOSTENHOLME gave some explanations of the operations of the committee that had undertaken the superintendence of this movement. He stated that beyond the necessary charges for printing, not one penny of expense would be incurred by the committee, all of whom were giving their services gratuitously. With reference to the remark that anything that could be done by these subscriptions would be in mitigation of claims upon the Water Company, he said the amount of mischief done was so vast, that the company would have enough to do to meet the claims against it, even when all the subscriptions both of the working classes and the rich had been applied. (Hear, hear.) The committee had received reports from more than fifty factories in favour of this movement, and they found that the contributions from the working people of Sheffield and other places amounted already to £796. The reports received showed that that sum would be increased to £1500, of which about £1,200 would be contributed by the working men of Sheffield; and he had no doubt, after such an auspicious beginning, that they would raise the sum which it had been said they could and ought to raise, viz., £10,000. (Cheers.)

Mr. ROBINSON moved --

"That this meeting recommends the contribution to the relief fund of ' one day's wage ' by every member of the working class of the town; and that the earnings of Good Friday or some other early day be set apart for that purpose."

The resolution was seconded by Mr. CAMPSALL.

Mr. JOHN WILSON supported the resolution, and referred to the operations of the workmen's tools sub committee. The men who had lost their tools had acted with the most perfect fairness; and whenever, after receiving compensation for tools supposed to be lost, they had found them again, they had made the fact known to the committee, and had deducted the value from the amount they were otherwise entitled to receive. (Cheers.)

Mr. S. JACKSON (nail maker) asked if the men who had suffered by the flooding of their houses would be expected to contribute to their various factories ? (Laughter.)

The MAYOR replied that no man would be expected to give more than he could afford-- The resolution was carried.

Mr. J. W BURNS moved a resolution appointing a committee to carry out the preceding resolutions, and requesting the representatives of trades to communicate with them.

Mr. GEORGE TURNER seconded the motion.

The proposition was carried; and a cordial vote of thanks to the Mayor for presiding, brought the proceedings to a close.


Her Majesty the Queen from the first took a deep interest in the case of the sufferers from the flood, and nobly came forward to set an example to her subjects in all parts of the country. The following is the correspondence which took place with reference to Her Majesty's contribution to the relief fund.

"March 17, 1864.

"My dear Sir,--I send you enclosed the letter I received last night from Col Sir C. B. Phipps, and also its enclosure--viz., a cheque for £200 from Her Majesty. I answered his letter, begging him to express to her Majesty my gratitude and thanks, which I presumed to offer in my own name, and in that of my constituents, to her Majesty, for her kind sympathy and benevolence in this our dread hour of suffering.

"I am much obliged for your appreciation of my efforts, and beg you to believe me, yours very truly,

"J. A. ROEBUCK, [sender]

"Thomas Jessop, Esq, the .Mayor." [recipient]


"Windsor Castle, March 16, 1864.

"Sir,--I have had the honour to submit to her Majesty the Queen your letter received last night.

"Her Majesty had already directed me to make inquiry whether any subscription had been commenced for the relief of the sufferers by the fearful accident which has occurred near Sheffield.

"The Queen has commanded me to inform you that it is her Majesty's intention to contribute £200 towards the objects advocated in your letter.

"Her Majesty has commanded me to add the expression of her deep sympathy for the poor persons thus suddenly overwhelmed with grief and exposed to suffering of every description, in consequence of this unexpected and dire calamity.

"As l am not aware of the name of the treasurer, I shall be very much obliged to you if you will take the trouble to forward the enclosed cheque to the proper quarter.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,

"Your most obedient humble servant,

"C. B. PHIPPS. [sender]

"J. A. Roebuck, Esq., M.P." [recipient]


His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales so early as March 15, authorised Mr. Roebuck, M.P., to say that he would head the subscription. The Princess of Wales and other members of the Royal Family also gave liberal donations.


From the first it was seen that the Sheffield Flood was not merely a local, but also a national calamity, and that nothing less than a national subscription would adequately meet the emergencies of the case. We do not propose to occupy much space with what was done in other towns in aid of the sufferers. It will be sufficient to say that nearly every town in the kingdom came forward in a liberal spirit, and sent in a handsome contribution. The Lord Mayor of London opened a subscription list, which the corporation of the City of London headed with a donation of £500.


It is pleasing to add that in about two months the noble sum of about £50,000 was raised. A list of the subscribers would fill a volume by itself. The sum obtained was more than sufficient to relieve all cases of urgent distress, and in May a notice had to be issued that further subscriptions would not be required.


In consequence of the vast quantities of water and mud carried into the houses and cellars in the low parts of the town, great fears were entertained lest some epidemic should break out, and add pestilence to the other consequences of the flood. Measures were therefore promptly taken to guard against such a contingency.

Every effort was promptly made to clear away the debris which had been deposited by the flood. The engines of the various fire offices were employed in pumping out the water and mud which had accumulated in the cellars of the principal shops in the Wicker. At Trinity Church, in Nursery street, an engine from the Sheffield office, with a body of men under the superintendence of the Rev. J Aldous, was employed to draw the water from the church, in which the water had risen to about the height of three feet, doing considerable damage to the furniture and books.

Drs. Aveling and Allan, Mr. H. Walker, and Mr. Sykes, visited all the worst localities, and their recommendations were actively carried out by the committees of the districts. At the meeting of the Health Committee of the Town Council, Dr. J. C. Hall attended, and offered his services. The committee accepted the offer, and requested Dr. Hall to co-operate with their Inspector, Mr. Chapman. Another resolution authorised Mr. Chapman to procure lime to cover over the heaps of decomposing matter which could not be removed and instructions were also given for the removal of all carcasses of animals, and other sources of effluvium. The men previously employed were reinforced by a number of labourers from the estate of the Duke of Norfolk, and by a force of navvies, with horses and carts, employed by Messrs. Craven upon the Water Company's works. Thus, by prompt and energetic measures, the health of the town was preserved, and the horrors of the flood were not augmented the additional evil of plague or pestilence. Some weeks after the flood fever broke out at Owlerton; but not to a serious extent, and measures to arrest its progress were at once adopted.

   Web Page 37 Web Page 38 Web Page 39   
   Sheffield Flood - 1864   (Main page)    Web Page / Book Contents List
26  -  June  -  99   
Mick Armitage (e-mail)