A Complete History of The Great Flood at Sheffield
by Samuel Harrison
Web Page 9

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A CHILD LOST AND MARVELLOUS ESCAPE.

The next house to Daniel Chapman's was occupied by his brother Thomas Chapman, his wife, four children, and a servant girl. They were aroused by the flood, and by the water rising in their bedrooms and lost no time in looking about for means of safety. Thomas Chapman, seeing that his son William was in danger of being carried out of the window by the flood, seized hold of him with all his might; but just at that moment a falling beam struck him on the abdomen, and compelled him to unloose his hold of his son, who was then swept out of the window before his father's eyes, and carried away and drowned. Thomas Chapman then broke a hole through the wall into his brother Daniel's house; but found that the inmates were all gone, and that the house was in ruins. In a short time a man named Harrison Marshall and a companion came to the rescue of Thomas Chapman and his family. The landlord of the Rock Inn at the top of the hill was up at the time, and says that he both saw and heard the flood coming. Marshall heard some one shout out, "The dam's burst, and they'll all be drowned." It was half an hour before Marshall durst venture over the water to Thomas Chapman's house; but at length he did so, and found them all in the bedroom, in their night clothes. Marshall and another man carried them on their backs, just as they were, across the water, and up the hill to the Rock Inn, where they stopped for the remainder of the night, and in the morning they were provided with clothes and refreshment.


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ONE TAKEN AND THE OTHER LEFT.

Two apprentices, named John Bower and John Denton (son of Mrs. Denton), were working all night at Chapman's wheel. Just before the avalanche of water came, Bower, had gone to the door for a breath of fresh air, when he heard the noise of the approaching flood. He called out to his companion, but could not go to his rescue, as the water was now rushing into the wheel. He ran up the hill to his house, and escaped; but young Denton perished at his post, and was next morning found buried under the ruins of the wheel at which he had been working.

The houses which we have mentioned as occupied by the Chapmans were much damaged, walls being knocked down, and doors and windows washed out. In a stable at the works was a cow; the stable was carried away, and the cow drowned. In another stable, where the water rose to the roof, were two horses, but they escaped by swimming with their heads out of the water.


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FROM LITTLE MATLOCK TO MALIN BRIDGE.-- DESTRUCTION OF WHEELS AND TILTS, AND TWO LIVES LOST.

Descending the stream from Little Matlock, the valley is some what narrow, and the sides, ;n most places, are rather steep, for the distance of about a mile and & half. In the bed of the river here there were no dwelling houses, and only a few on the hill sides, most of them being out of the reach of the flood. There were, however, a succession of wheels and tilts, some of which were entirely destroyed, and all were more or less damaged.

Ashton Carr Wheel, just below Little Matlock, the property of Montagu Burgoyne, Esq., and occupied by Mr. J. Proctor, is entirely washed away. The next is the Green Wheel, occupied by Mr. E. Denton. This place stands on the hill side, on somewhat high ground, and was very little damaged. It is about the only wheel in the valley that has escaped.

The next is what is called the Glass Tilt, belonging to Messrs. Wilson, Hawksworth, and Co., and occupied by Mr. Taylor. The damage here was very great, but no lives were lost. A man had been working in the place, but he had just gone out, and another man, who had to take his place, had not arrived when the flood came, but he was there a few minutes afterwards. Above the Tilt are a few small houses with gardens. The latter were flooded, but the houses escaped. A stable between the tilt and the river was swept away, but a horse which was in it was found, uninjured, in a field at the top of the hill about a hundred yards away from the site of the stable. Lower down was Mr. Thomas Harrison's Tilt and Forge, which was swept away, and its site was only marked by the water wheel, which was left exposed and surrounded by huge stones which had been brought down by the current. At this tilt two young men lost their lives, Joseph Gregory, aged 20, and Walter Booth, aged 16. They were working all night as usual, when the flood came and swept them away. Nothing further than that simple fact is or can be known, because no other person was there, and no one saw or heard them at the time they perished. The body of Gregory was found about half a mile below, but the body of Booth has not been recovered, or at all events has not been identified. Mr. Harrison, the occupier of the tilt, and who lives a little higher up, was awoke by the flood in the middle of the night, and immediately got up; but he could not get out of the house, much less do anything towards rescuing the young men in the tilt, because his house was flooded, and a good deal damaged.

Close to Harrison's Tilt was Broadhead's Wheel, which has disappeared entirely. The bed of the river widens at this point, and the rocks are torn up and scattered about in extraordinary confusion. Lower down is the Scythe Wheel, belonging to Mr. W. I. Horn. One part of the building is still standing, but the portion nearest to the river is knocked to pieces, the water wheel and ponderous machinery being laid bare, and massive iron castings being scattered about in the vicinity. The scene here is one that excites wonder. It could be hardly be believed that such masses of metal and of rock could have been tossed about like play-things by the force of the water.

Wisewood Works, also belonging to Mr. Horn, are or were a little lower down the stream, but they have been swept away completely, except that immense water, fly, and other wheels are to be seen in the ground half covered with the mud and the debris of the flood, looking as singular and out of place as the Sphinx partially submerged beneath the sands of Egypt.

Near Wisewood Works, amid other large stones, is one which attracted much notice. It is of immense size, and is supposed to weigh about twenty tons.


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A FARMHOUSE SWEPT AWAY AND ITS TEN INMATES DROWNED.

The fate of Mr. James Trickett and his family, forms one of the most melancholy and striking incidents of this sad narrative. Mr. Trickett's house stood upon a promontory near the junction of the rivers Rivelin and Loxley. It was a substantially built residence and had extensive stables and outbuildings, all of stone. In front of it was a small lawn, and between it and the river Loxley were beautifully laid out gardens, containing fruit trees and ornamental shrubs. Mr. Trickett was a farmer of respectability and of some means, though not above working with his own hands at the operations of agricultural industry. He was well known in the neighbourhood, and was much esteemed for his various good qualities. His family consisted of himself, his wife, his daughter Jemima, aged nearly 13, his son James, aged 11, and his son George, aged 5. In most of the lists published, it is said that he had four children who perished in the flood; but this is a mistake. The fourth child died about two months before the catastrophe which removed the rest of the family. There were also in the house at the time of the flood, Mr. Thomas Kay, aged between seventy and eighty; Mr. Joseph Barker, aged 27; two men servants, and one maid servant. This made the number in the house ten, and not one of these escaped to tell the sad story of that awful night.

The old man Kay was the father of Mrs. Trickett, and up to the day of the flood he used to live in a house of his own at View Fold, on the other side of the hill. On the Wednesday in the same week, he buried his wife, and, having no one to live with him or keep his house, he gave up housekeeping on his own account on Friday, and went to live with his son in law, Mr. Trickett. On the very same night the flood came, and swept him away. It is melancholy to think that his domestic bereavement and change of residence should have been so immediately followed by the loss of his own life.

The case of young Mr. Barker is equally extraordinary. He was the son of Mr. Barker, of Arbourthorne, Sheffield, and was in partnership with Mr. Johnson, at the Limerick Wheel, which is situated near Malin Bridge. Mr. Barker was a young gentleman of respectability and of very good business position and prospects. In order to be near the works he was obliged to take lodgings in the neighbourhood, and for two or three months before the flood he had been one of the inmates of Mr. Trickett's farmhouse, where he possessed comforts and conveniences equal to anything that could be obtained in the immediate locality. On the afternoon before the flood he had been to Sheffield to see his parents, and also to obtain a considerable sum of money to pay the wages of the men at the works on the next day. It was the last night he intended to remain at Mr. Trickett's house. In consequence of the old man Kay going to live at his son in law's, young Barker could no longer be accommodated, and he had made arrangements to remove the very next day to Mrs. Bower's, at Malin Bridge, where he used to lodge before he went to Farmer Trickett's. On the Saturday he was to have left Mr. Trickett's, but on the Friday night the flood came, and carried the house and all its inmates away without a moment's warning.

The manner in which the Tricketts met their fate can only be matter of conjecture. Their habits were regular, and they generally retired to rest for the night at about half past ten. It may be that the flood came upon them while they were all sleeping; but it is more probable that they were aroused by the noise of its approach, and that they got up in haste to see what was the cause of the uproar. We have ascertained beyond doubt that the neighbours saw lights in the chamber window just before the house was swept away, and it was not the practice of the Tricketts to keep lights burning all night. If the inmates of the house were all awake and alive to their danger the scene must have been most harrowing. The consternation which would seize upon them may be imagined as they saw the flood coming nearer and nearer, like an avalanche of snow, till it entered the house, rose up to the chamber floors, and continued to rise, while the inmates sought refuge by standing on beds or tables, and shrieked aloud for that help which none was able to afford. They would naturally suppose that the house was the place of greatest safety, and that its strong stone walls could never be destroyed by the force of the inundation. Besides, escape by running out of doors was impossible, for the waters surrounded the house to a considerable height. For a few moments the house withstands the power of the flood; but now it totters, the foundations are giving way, it is lifted up for an instant on the crest of the waves, and seems to swim down the stream; but in another moment it falls to pieces, its stones are swept down by the flood, its inmates are all engulfed beneath the waters, and swept along after they have ceased to be conscious of the appalling fate by which they have been overtaken. A neighbour named Mrs. Corbett, who lives about fifty yards from where Trickett's house stood, said that she got up when the flood was coming, and saw it approach, like a mountain of snow; she heard the shrieks of the drowning, and saw the lights in Trickett's windows. For a moment the house seemed to be swimming upon the flood, and the lights were still visible; but a second burst of water came, and the house immediately sank, the lights went out, and all was silence, except the roar of the flood as it passed down the valley on its work of destruction and death.

The scene presented next morning was one of extraordinary ruin and desolation. The farmhouse was gone to its very foundations, a large hole in the earth only marking the position of the cellar. The stable was also demolished, except a portion of one wall, which stood out in rugged dilapidation, and attracted great attention from its picturesque appearance, as well as from the melancholy incidents of which it constituted the memorial. Several horses were drowned, and their carcasses were found scattered about in the vicinity. Eleven cows, six calves, and a pig were rescued. Most of them were in the barn, which was not materially injured. The water here seems to have almost missed a field by the river side, and to have made a circuit round the barn, a very large door in which it burst open, to which fact its escape is probably to be attributed. The water, finding a vent through the barn door, would not bear with such force upon the building itself; but it passed on to the house, taking it both at the back and front, and sweeping it away as already described. On the upper side of the field which nearly escaped is a stone wall, against which the debris were washed in a heap, forming a barrier to the progress of the water, which was thus forced further up the hill directly against the farmhouse of Mr. Trickett.

The garden was entirely destroyed, and what was once a scene of luxuriant beauty and verdure was transformed into a sandy and rocky waste, with no sign of vegetation except a slender weeping ash, stripped of its bark, and bowed down by the force of the flood as if weeping over the desolation of the scene of which it was once the ornament. Even this tree was not allowed long to remain, but was taken away piece by piece by visitors who wished to preserve some relic of so appalling a calamity.

The body of Mr. Trickett was recovered, and suitably interred. The body of his wife was found at Aldwark. A large number of the bodies were never identified, the reason being that in many cases entire families were drowned, there was no one surviving who could recognise the features of corpses which were recovered. Miss Trickett was found, as was also the servant girl, the former having on one stocking and a petticoat, the latter both stockings. From this it is inferred that at least some of the family had begun to dress when the flood came; but even if this were so it is evident that they had time to put on only a very small portion of their clothing.

The house was well furnished, and next day many of the articles of domestic use were seen strewn about in the adjacent fields and roads, but most of the furniture was carried down and broken to pieces. It was an extraordinary sight many days after to see men dragging the river, and bringing out bedposts, mattresses, broken tables, chairs, and every conceivable article of furniture and dress. It is supposed that a considerable sum of money was washed out of Mr. Trickett's house, as he was a farmer in good circumstances, and young Barker had in his possession at the time he was drowned the money which was to have paid the wages of the workmen at Limerick Wheel on the same day.

As showing the distance to which some articles were carried, it may be mentioned that an interesting relic of the Tricketts was picked up about twelve miles lower down the river. It consisted of a piece of ornamental worsted work of the old fashioned kind known as a "sampler." Its date was 1815, and it was the work of "Ann Trickett." The sampler is bordered with a running pattern of vine leaves and grapes. At the top of it are some roses growing in crimson pots. Beneath the pots, and as side ornaments to the verses, are two trees. Under the verses is Ann Trickett's name in a wreath of flowers, and on each side of the name are some flowering plants in baskets. Below the wreath are two birds, coloured like parrots; and under them is a large house, with a row of trees in front of it. At the bottom of all, worked on a dark ground, there are waterfowl swimming in a pond, and on the right of it are two peacocks and two sheep, while on the left of it are two deer, one spotted dog, and four sheep. The verses, already mentioned, occupy the centre of the "sampler," and are the well known version of the 23rd Psalm, beginning--

"The Lord my pasture shall prepare
And feed me with a shepherd's care."

There is a melancholy contrast between the scene of rural peace and loveliness described in the verses, and that awful night when house and "sampler" were washed away--between the "peaceful rivers soft and slow," which "amid the verdant landscape flow," and that terrible torrent, loud and rapid, which rushed down amid the desolation and ruin which everywhere accompanied its track--between the wilderness transformed into a fairy scene, "With sudden greens and herbage crowned," and the quiet beauty of the Loxley valley suddenly changed into a howling desert, rent into deep chasms and strewed with fragments of rock. The "sampler" is now in the possession of the finder, George Froggatt, Warren Vale, near Rawmash, and when found had in it one tack of the many which had been used in securing it to the frame. The frame is, of course, gone, and there is a rent on the right hand side of the verses, but in other respects it is entire.


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