Third story instalment on Wray flood’s 50th anniversary

Roeburndale Fell, above Mallowdale Farm, Roeburndale West.
Roeburndale Fell, above Mallowdale Farm, Roeburndale West.

In the final week of the Wray floods 50th anniversary series, historian David Kenyon looks back on the bridges damaged or destroyed by the raging torrent.

We begin our journey on Mallowdale Fell, the start of the River Roeburn’s journey of destruction down the Roeburndale Valley towards Wray.

Barkin Bridge, Roeburndale West, 1967.

Barkin Bridge, Roeburndale West, 1967.

The pictures show:

Roeburndale Fell, above Mallowdale Farm, Roeburndale West. This area was the start of the River Roeburn’s journey of destruction. Torrential rain, spiralling downwards, formed a ‘spout’, hitting the ground with tremendous force.

Earth and stones were tossed aside to a depth in excess of six feet.

There was at least four other ‘spouts’ on other areas of Roeburndale Fell.

From Barkin Bridge the huge wall of water surged down the Roeburndale Valley towards Wray.

From Barkin Bridge the huge wall of water surged down the Roeburndale Valley towards Wray.

This huge wall of water headed down the Roeburndale Valley towards Wray, destroying bridges and the farm of Backsbottom on its way.

Barkin Bridge, Roeburndale West, 1967. The tangled mass of trees and roots, which were blocking the bridge, took two days to clear.

This 17th century bridge was widened in 1959 by placing concrete slabs across the bridge. Iron railings replaced the parapet walls, thus giving extra width; this work probably saved this little bridge for future generations.

The local farmers clearing the bridge are, from left: Jack Lord from Lower Salter Farm and Anthony Mickle from Mallowdale.

The fifth bridge to be destroyed by the flood was Kitten Bridge in Wray (which is the correct name and not Kitting Bridge, a name which it seems to have acquired in recent years). This picturesque bridge over the River Roeburn was situated on the lane known locally as The Spout.

The fifth bridge to be destroyed by the flood was Kitten Bridge in Wray (which is the correct name and not Kitting Bridge, a name which it seems to have acquired in recent years). This picturesque bridge over the River Roeburn was situated on the lane known locally as The Spout.

The fifth bridge to be destroyed by the flood was Kitten Bridge in Wray (which is the correct name and not Kitting Bridge, a name which it seems to have acquired in recent years).

This picturesque bridge over the River Roeburn was situated on the lane known locally as The Spout.

Spout Lane starts at Wray Endowed School and follows the River Roeburn until it joins the Roeburndale East road near Wray Mill.

After the flood a new, modern, concrete bridge replaced the old arched stone bridge.

From Barkin Bridge the huge wall of water surged down the Roeburndale Valley towards Wray.

The next obstacle in the torrent’s path was the bridge to Backsbottom Farm from the quarry road.

The flood destroyed the bridge, the farm buildings and most of the farm house.

The next bridge in the path of the raging torrent was Backsbottom Bridge near Wray. This was destroyed including a large part of the Quarry Road.

Photograph of Backsbottom Bridge taken around 1900-1910.

An article in the Lancaster Guardian of September 2 1892 describes the disastrous storms and floods of that year, ‘The Quarry Road near the Stag’s Head was washed away for a distance of 50 years, the lower part of the new bridge was washed away for a distance of 50 yards, the lower part of the new bridge was washed down the river bed and is now where the road was.

‘Practically the road is destroyed for 100 yards below the bridge.’