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Roebuck House - near Damflask - March 1864 (Sheffield to the right)

A little under a mile below Bradfield (which is to the left in this photograph), and about a quarter of a mile before reaching the hamlet of Damflask, was Roebuck House - shown here. (The site of this building now lies submerged, approximately at the centre of the Damflask reservoir.)

Samuel Harrison writes of this dwelling:


'At the foot of a steep declivity, embosomed amid trees, lies what is called Roebuck House. It is situated about a mile below Bradfield, and half a mile from Damflask. It consisted of two stone cottages, with the usual out buildings of a small farm. In one of these cottages resided William Marsden, his wife, and a child about two years of age. They had no warning whatever of the approach of the flood, and were all in bed at the time when it swept down the valley. Mr. Marsden, hearing a strange noise, got up, and had just returned to his bed when the water crashed in the house with a noise which he describes as resembling thunder. He said to his wife, "We shall all be drowned." At this time the water had burst into the house, and was rising up into the bedroom. Mr. Marsden, with great presence of mind, broke a leg off the dressing table, and with this improvised instrument knocked a hole through the ceiling of the bedroom. He then got up the hole, and thence escaped to the roof of the house. His wife, standing upon a table in the room, threw the child up to him. He caught it in his arms, and carried it into a wheat field on the side of the hill, where it was out of danger. He then returned to the rescue of his wife, pulled her up the hole in the ceiling, and carried her also to the field already mentioned. As the ground here rises very rapidly, the roof of the house, and the hill side are nearly upon a level, so that there was no difficulty in escaping from the roof to the field beyond, and there they remained in safety until they were able to proceed higher up the hill to the Rock Farm, where they were comfortably accommodated for the rest of the night. Of course they had no time to dress, except that Mr. Marsden just slipped on his trousers, and his wife threw over her some garment which was nearest at hand. Their condition and the sufferings they endured, when exposed to the cold blast of the rough March wind as they stood up on the roof of their house in the darkness, and as they trudged up the hill side, may readily be imagined. Had they remained in the house, it is hardly possible that they could have escaped with their lives. Their house was greatly damaged, a portion of the farm building was destroyed, and some domestic animals were drowned. One large pig was saved. Its stye was swept away, but the sagacious brute found its way up the hill side sooner than its owner, who found it there, alive and well, when he bore his wife and child to that place of safety. The foot bridge at this place was of course entirely swept away.
In the other cottage lived Mr. Tittcomb, his wife, two sons, and four lodgers. When the flood came, Mr. Tittcomb broke a pole off the bedstead, and made a hole in the ceiling, through which all the inmates escaped on to the roof, and thence to the hill side. One of the lodgers, in jumping off the roof, fell to the ground, and was somewhat severely hurt, but not so seriously as to be unable to walk up the hill along with the others who had made their escape.'

It seems a pity that the above photograph was not taken from the opposite direction, such that the holes made in the roof by the escaping inhabitants were visible.


Ruins of Damflask Wire Mill (Sheffield to the left) The Damflask Reservoir (Sheffield to the left)
LEFT: The ruins of the Damflask Wire Mill. Three men and a boy who were working in this mill were drowned (see quoted text below). 'Damflask' was then a small hamlet, situated just over a mile down-valley from Low Bradfield (to the left in this 'old' photograph - Sheffield is to the right).

RIGHT: (Viewed from the opposite direction, with Sheffield to the left) Today, the hamlet has been replaced by the waters of the Damflask reservoir, which was built in the late 1870s; though, due to leakage problems, was not completed until 1896 (capacity: 1,158 million gallons).


Damflask Wire Mill (another view)'A little below Damflask is the wire mill [shown opposite and above], occupied by Messrs. Shaw and Co., and the property of Mr. Tasker, of Sheffield. Here it was usual to keep up work all night, and at the time of the flood three men, named John King, Charles Platts [see newspaper advert, below], and William Longden, and a boy named John Ibbotson, were engaged in the mill at their ordinary occupation. Part of the mill was swept away, and all four were drowned. As there was no one beside themselves at the mill that night, no particulars as to how they met their fate can be ascertained; but there is little doubt that they were at work in an upper room, which was partly destroyed. Had they had the presence of mind to run to the other end of the room, they would probably have escaped, as that part of the building did not sustain much damage. Most likely they were taken quite on a sudden, and had not time even to think what was the course most proper to be adopted.' (GFAS)
THE FLOOD. --- Missing, from Dam Flask, CHARLES PLATTS,
aged 23, Height 5 feet 6, short Black Hair, no Whiskers. - Apply at the
Red Deer, Pitt Street, Sheffield.

'At Damflask lived Mr. Joseph Hobson, the village miller. His mill was situated close to the river, and his house some thirty or forty yards on one side. [On the night of the flood] He heard that a young man had gone for Mr. Gunson and Mr. Craven, and he also saw those gentlemen when they were on their way to the dam. Mr. Hobson took the alarm, and made the best use of the time from ten till twelve o'clock at night in preparing for the expected flood. He first went down to his mill, and drew up all the sacks of corn and flour from the ground floor on to the chamber, thinking that the flood could not possibly reach so high as the second story. He then went home, and took his wife away to a place of safety higher up the hill, and also drove his horse and two cows to a place where they would be out of danger. When the flood came, it washed the mill and all its contents entirely away . . . His cows and horses, and his wife, were, however, saved, through his timely precautions. The house was flooded to the height of six feet, and was considerably damaged. A drain which led from the house to the river was torn up with great violence, and in an extraordinary manner. A pig, weighing twenty seven stones, was drowned in its sty, and a large flitch of bacon was carried out of the cellar along the drain and washed away. The garden was swept off, and a large hole, many yards in diameter, and about twelve feet deep was formed in the ground by the action of the water. Many similar holes were to be seen in the course of the river, and it could hardly be believed that they had been formed by the flood, though that such was the case was beyond all doubt.' (GFAS) 

Believed to be Mrs. Kirk with her pets'SHEFFIELD HARRY'

'The bridge at Damflask was destroyed. All the occupants in a house nearby had heeded a warning and got out--bar one. The exception, a navvy who lodged with Thomas Kirk and family, was known officially as Henry Burkinshaw, but familiarly as 'Sheffield Harry'. Despite screams from the women and shouts from the men, he refused to budge from his bed. He worked at the Agden reservoir [not far from the Dale Dyke Dam] and had to be up early, he said, so he needed a good night's rest. What was more, he reportedly added, he had been employed on the Dale Dyke embankment and it was his considered opinion that 'there isn't water enough in Yorkshire to burst that dam'. He wasn't going to move for anything and turned over to go back to sleep. 'Sheffield Harry' did not survive the night. Mrs Kirk almost paid for her own rashness when she went back into the house to collect her cat, a rescue act which cost her no more than a sopping nightdress. It appears she had the luck of the foolish.' (CDDD)

'The body of "Sheffield Harry" was found next morning, about half a mile below, in a frightfully mutilated state. The river has here changed its bed, and now flows over the very spot on which "Sheffield Harry" lived.' (GFAS) 


The 'Loxley Old Wheel' Stables

The Loxley 'Old Wheel' stables, where two horses were drowned while a third one swam to safety.

[About a mile below Damflask] 'The Loxley Old Wheel is situated amid a scene of romantic beauty, the hill sides being crowned with trees, and several rivulets flowing down to join the Loxley. The Old Wheel and the adjoining buildings are the property of Samuel Newbould, Esq., and are, or were, occupied by Messrs. H. and E. R. Denton, and also by Mr. Higginbottom. Messrs. Denton's tilt and forge was greatly damaged; the goit was knocked down, the water wheel smashed, and the machinery displaced and injured. A wagon, which contained three tons of coal, was broken. The stable was knocked down, and two horses were drowned; a third horse escaped by swimming. The grinding wheel here occupied by Mr. Joseph Higginbottom was greatly damaged, and a good deal of machinery spoiled. Two rows of stone houses were considerably injured. The inmates were placed in great peril, as the flood reached to the chambers in which they were sleeping,. They all got up, and were in great distress till the morning light enabled them to ascertain that there was no further danger.' (GFAS) 

'Joseph Denton [aged 14] lost his life [see gravestone below]. He was only a youth and his father was head of H. Denton and Co., renting premises at the Old Wheel. Joseph was at work that night with his younger brother, John [aged 11], and a man named Robert Banner. They must have experienced a living hell as the water poured in. Banner managed to escape by way of a shaking chimney and some beams, but the two boys were dragged under a mass of machinery and timber. Joseph did not re surface. John Denton did and saved himself by clambering up a pole, where he remained until the water dropped about half an hour later. It was found that a haystack, hardly a stalk out of place, had been deposited in the mill weir, having travelled more than a quarter of a mile from a farmer's field. The flood had pushed into the mill itself a cart which, laden with three tons of coal, had been seen shortly before outside a house some distance away. W. D. Tallent, then a nineteen year old apprentice with Samuel Newbould and Co., Sheffield Moor, the firm which owned the forge rented by the Dentons, recalled forty eight years later how he was in a party sent to look for the missing young man, whom they found, after moving 'huge blocks of stone', near one of the hammers in the forge. That was on the Monday following Friday night's disaster. Tallent also remembered seeing holes in one of the roads leading out of Sheffield 'big enough to put a horse and cart in'; they had been made, he said, 'by the swirl of the waters washing the soil away and leaving pits, as it were'. (CDDD)


TH 1861. AGED 10 YEARS. 
TH 1864, AGED 14 YEARS. 

TH 1903, AGED 74 YEARS.

Grave of Joseph Denton (of the Loxley Old Wheel)On first reading the inscription on this gravestone one gets the impression that the person who was drowned in the flood (highlighted, opposite) was one Joseph Roxbrough: however, no such person is recorded as having died in the flood. On closer inspection of the gravestone details, it becomes evident that this is the grave of the 'Denton' family of Loxley Old Wheel. It seems that the father's middle name was Roxbrough, and it is this feature which leads to the misinterpretation of the family name. There can be no doubt that this is the grave of Joseph Denton who was drowned at the Loxley Old Wheel, aged 14 (see story above); though he is listed as being 16 in the official 'flood victims list.' The gravestone also highlights the further tragedy of this family, where the parents lived to the ages of 74 and 82, while all their listed children died quite young.1

Just a little way below the Loxley Old Wheel is Rowel Lane and Bridge . . .


Ruins of Rowel Wheel (Rowel Bridge Inn in background) Same View Today (Rowel Bridge Inn is now a private residence)

Rowel Lane and Bridge are situated about one and a half miles down the Loxley Valley from Damflask. In the photographs, Rowel Lane runs from just off the left side of the pictures, and makes its way past the right hand side of the large building in the background; indeed, in the modern photograph, a 'priority' road sign can be seen standing on the lane. Close to the house it crosses the river Loxley over Rowel Bridge (the bridge was totally washed away by the flood) then proceeds to make it's way up the steep hill to Storrs - near Stanington. The building in the background was, at the time of the flood, the Rowel Bridge Inn (see quoted text below), but today it has become a private residence. In the foreground of the old picture, are all that remained of the 'Rowel Bridge Wheel' - in which William Bradbury drowned (see quoted text below). The mill that was eventually built to replace it, today stands in a similar condition (though this time due to ageing!).

Geoffrey Amey writes:

'Rowel Bridge, a mile and a half from Damflask towards Sheffield, was washed away; so, too, were two nearby 'Wheels', in one of which William Bradbury, apparently alone, was working overtime. He was carried off and never seen again, leaving a young widow, Esther, and two infants to mourn his sudden departure. The mills employed 60 men and this absolute destruction of the premises and loss of tools meant unemployment for many of them. At least they still had their lives.' (CDDD) 

Samuel Harrison writes:


'At Rowel Bridge Wheel was employed a grinder named Wm. Bradbury, who, being anxious to make a good wage on Saturday night, had stopped behind his companions, and was working all night. The last man, except Bradbury, had left the wheel at half past eleven, only half an hour before the flood came, and another had left at half past ten. No one saw what became of Bradbury, but he has not since been heard of, and there is no doubt he was carried away by the flood. His body has not been recovered, or at least it has not been identified.'


'At Rowel Bridge is the Inn which takes its name from the place, and which is kept by Mr. John Waters. Part of the building is also used as a flour mill. Mrs. Waters, in the middle of the night, was awoke by the roar of the advancing flood, which, she says, sounded like a clap of thunder. She awoke her husband, and the inmates of the house. The water had burst through the doors and windows, and filled the house up to a considerable height. There was no time to dress, and, just as they were, the inmates all escaped through a door which leads from the house to the flour mill thence they proceeded to a hayloft, and got on to the roof. The buildings being situated at the foot of a steep hill, they easily escaped from the roof to the hill side, ran up the hill, and sought shelter at a neighbour's house. There they dressed themselves, as best they could, got some refreshment, and went back to see what was the condition of their own habitation. This was about one o'clock, and as they were going, down the hill, they were met by a grinder named John Stanley, who asked them for a light, and said he was going to work at the wheel where he had left Billy Bradbury. Poor Billy Bradbury had been swept away, and had John Stanley been one hour sooner, he would probably have met a similar fate.   . . . the Rowel Bridge Inn had three twenty-four gallon barrels of beer washed away, beside which the house and mill were much damaged. In the stable were two pigs; one of them was drowned in the place, and the other was carried down the stream a mile into a wood, where it managed to swim to shore, and was afterwards discovered by its lawful owner not much worse for the adventures of the night.' (GFAS)

Copyright © 2001 Michael Armitage

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