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That fateful night

On the night of the 15th August 1952 , after extremely high rainfall and storms in the area, the rivers of the East Lyn, joined by Hoaroak Water at Watersmeet and the West Lyn burst their banks. The flow water raced down the river valleys

destroying bridges and houses along the way until it reached the sea at Lynmouth.

More than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged (55 lost in Lynmouth approximately 25% of the rateable properties in the village) along with 28 of the 31 bridges. 95 cars were damaged with 38 being washed out to sea.

In total 34 people died (17 in Lynmouth) with a further 420 made homeless. Eleven of the dead were on holiday, four of these being children.

This disaster is the single largest loss of life in Britain from a river flood event. 

  • It has been estimated that 90 million tons of rain fell on Exmoor in 24 hours

  • The flood started at about 6.30pm on Friday evening and continued in pitch dark and thunderous noise until the early hours of Saturday morning.

  • At times, water was flowing through the village at the rate of 651 cubic meters a second. Total river flow after heavy rainfall is usually 7 cubic metres a second.

  • 114,000 tons of solid debris was swept into streets and properties. The West Lyn River deposited 8,000 ton of boulders in the village. Some weighing 50 tons were too big to move and had to be blown up by the army.

  • Debris blocked against 28 bridges on the Lyn Rivers causing the rivers to 'pond'. When each dammed bridge collapsed, an additional surge of water 30ft (9.2m) high swept into an already overwhelmed village.

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