Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Malcolm Saville on the 1947 floods

I had an e-mail today from someone at a television company who had read this blog and wanted to know if I would go on air to talk about the 1947 floods. But I was busy with the day job and, besides, know little about them. All I have done is post links to sites which will tell you the history.

If I do know a bit more than most about the events of 1947, it is because my favourite writer as a child was Malcolm Saville. A sort of thinking child's Enid Blyton, he set his adventures in real English landscapes and used the natural disasters of the post-war years as background.

The floods of 1947 inspired his story The Luck of Sallowby - a hunt for a Saxon battleaxe which baddies are after too, of course.

But the real enemy is the weather. Here is a passage of description from the book:

Now they were close against the wall they saw it was only a few inches higher than the rising water which stretched before them in a turbulent brown lake, whipped into waves by the gale. And these waves beat against the wall ceaselessly and the spray from them blew over the top and drenched the bags and settled in pools on the tarpaulins and made the blue clay slimy and almost unmanageable.

The sky was full of rain again but they knew now that even if it did not rain in the Fens the danger was coming from the water which fell many miles away in the Midlands and in Bedfordshire, and that the swollen rivers were still rushing down to the plain while the wind which fretted these floods into the banks, made a menace which it was very hard to fight.

So they worked on with them men, laughing and joking with them, until a shout and disturbance about fifty yards away broke the rhythm of their toil. They looked round to see that the water had found a weakness in the wall and was gushing through the cracks between the bags like a fountain. There was another similar leak nearer to them on their other side, and now the gangs plastered these leaks with clay without waiting to bag it.

J. K. Rowling eat your heart out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree - Malcolm Saville's books are fantastic

My grandad used to tell me stories of the 1947 floods in east anglia. His Aunt was flooded out and was evacuated. the water apparently reached the picture rails of her bungalow. After the water receded/went people were allowed in between certain hours to clear up - they had to be out before dusk, all to prevent looting. He said the damage was horrendous