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West Auckland Flood,  Sunday June 4th 2000

As I progressed along Station Road water raced from Station View and The Nursery directly from the River Gaunless Near the Waterfall.  At the top of Mill Bank the scale of flooding in the center of West Auckland became apparent ¾ of the main green was awash with thick grimy water this flowed down along Chapel St where my Mother and Father are living.  

When I arrived I helped in the frantic effort to place sand bags and anything else up against the door, although all credit to my dad because he had almost completed the task before I had arrived. 

What made it worse on Chapel St, was the inconsiderate motorists that ignored the closed road signs and roared through the water causing mini waves that spilt over the tops of the sand bags and into the houses along that street, these included the Earl of Warwick where the cellar was  completely filled, (well I suppose they wont have to try to hard to water down their beer.) 

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It was my brother who raised the alarm. After a drunken Saturday night out, he came home at about 03:30 and sat in the living room eating his mushy peas and pie and then went to go to bed, when he noticed a damp area near the door with water trickling in. He then went upstairs and woke both my mother and father.  By the time they ran down stairs water was then gushing in. Whilst my dad built a blockade at the door my mother started ringing round while my brother knocked everybody up in the street to warn them.

When my task was finished at Chapel St, I returned back to river walk to my sister’s house and started to take the photos en route now that dawn had broken. To get into my sister house I had to climb on top a patio table and in through a window.  Although in a foot of water they had managed to keep another foot and a half out.

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Areas of West that were Flooded

Photos below were Supplied By Joanne Beecham. Many thanks Joanne

After observing the damage that the water had done I carried on my hike around the flooded village, following the road round to the bottom of Oakley Green and on to the old railway line to look at the River Gaunless and the Oakley Beck's flood plane at the area of where they merge.    

Looking up through Oakley you can see the water that gushed off Chapel St flowing along side the Oakley Beck before merging with it at the bottom

I once gain followed the road up into the center of the village and onto the Toad pool and Eden Grove areas where water flowed from just below the spring gardens area of West Auckland.  It is believed that Eden Grove was evacuated quite early on. Notice the stranded car on the main A68 at the Bottom of the Leech Estate. Which still worked after it dried out,  a young man had emailed me to point that out. 

My Story By Darren Fairclough

I remember going to bed at 0100 hours Sunday morning after watching City Central that I had recorded from Saturday evening, I noticed then, lots of flashing blue lights reflecting through the curtains but been so tired, I never bothered investigating.

Then at 04:19 that morning my wife and I were awakened by the phone ringing, my head was spinning as I tried force myself to be fully regain my faculties, my heart racing because you fear the worst answering the phone at that time.

I picked up the receiver, it was my mum, shouting down the phone  “ check your house there’s been a flood, the waters pouring in at our house” I put the phone down on the bed side cabinet and rushed down stairs checking both the back and front of my house and to my relief we were safe. 

My wife and I decided to go too my Mothers and help out, thinking that it was only due to the drainage in that area. So we jumped in the car noticing blue lights in the distance as we did so. Neither of us were expecting what we saw when we drove over the bridge between West and St Helens, suddenly out of sheer amazement and horror I slammed on the brakes. The road in front of us had become a raging torrent of brown filthy muddy water.  I immediately turned the car around and parked up back outside my house. Grabbing some more warm clothes and an old pair of trainers (I didn’t own any waders or Wellingtons) I went back outside armed with my camera and walked over the bridge.

My First destination was my sister’s house on River walk. This is opposite to Meadow View as seen in the picture. I started wading my way through the water, firstly it lapped around my ankles then my knees and then up to tops of my legs it was absolutely bone chilling cold. I decided to turn around because my sister’s house by then would be well and truly flooded.

The next destination would be my mums. Torrents of water flowed along Station Road into Meadow View, pooling in River Walk area and then continuing to re join the once tame River Gaunless at Silver Bridge (yep I know the bridge is green but it was silver at one time)

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On Saturday the 3rd of June 2000 there had been torrential rain in County Durham, in fact three inches the equivalent to one months normal rainfall.  

Heavy rain the previous week meant that the ground was already waterlogged causing the rain to drain into the River Gaunless quickly which could not cope with 70 tonnes a second and thus burst its banks flooding 133 houses in West and 194 in south Church.

The Oakley Beck also in West flooded an additional 33 homes. This flooding was worse than those of 1924 and 1979 where the river rose 10 feet above normal.

Flood Defences Home Page