'Twern’t a sea – not a bit of it – twer the great sea hisself rose up level like and come on right over the ridge and all, like nothing in this world'
On the evening of the 22nd November 1824, a tremendous hurricane gale of wind from south, producing a significant storm surge of 3-4 metres and lasted 30 hours coincide with extraordinary spring tide causing much damage to the south coast of England (West, 2019). On the 23rd November 1824, ‘when the storm was at its worst and with the largest waves’, the wind was blowing from south-westerly direction The hurricane caused some of the worst flooding ever known on the English Channel coast.
The sea made a breach over a platform, several breaches through the beaches forming wide channels, and other breaches over the rocks 60 to 80 feet high (Boza, 2018). The seawater was breaking over the Cobb in Lyme Regis and the ‘tidal wave’ overflowed’ Chesil Beach (West, 2019). In Portsmouth, the sea breached the coast and created several channels through the beaches (Boza, 2018). Waves covered everything that was exposed to them. Water overflowed mills and marshes. The sea overtopped a promenade and much land.
Receptor and Consequence
This event, which was known as ‘The Great Gale’, saw the worst flooding ever known on the English Channel coast. People were left in destitute having lost their homes, furniture and boats. The loss was estimated to reach £15,000 (about £2.8 million in today’s money) (Mouland, 2013). This event was also mentioned as the cause of the decline of the south coast salt industry.
In Sidmouth, houses were flooded and the coast were eroded (Zong and Tooley, 2003; WWest, 2019). In West Bay, Bridport Harbour flooded drowning three people (West, 2019). Abbotsbury saw 7 metres high of sea flood. In East Fleet, the ‘tidal wave’ overflowed Chesil Beach and swept away a church and the village. In Chiswell, Portland, some 80 houses were damaged by the waves in less than half an hour and 28 of inhabitants were drowned (West, 2019). The Chesil Bank lost its height by twenty to thirty feet by the continuing waves. At Ferrybridge, Wyke Regis, ‘the fury of waves’ destroyed ferry house and killed 2 people. The storm eroded the crossing banks to at least four times the original width. In Weymouth, the quays were entirely inundated and the sea-front houses of Melcombe Regis were flooded as well as the Preston bank and Lodmoor. In Poole, all the quays were also overflowed. Water reached 1.5 metre high and isolated the town. Swanage also reported some flooding. At Christchurch, the lower parts of houses were flooded to about 1 metre. Hurst Castle spit were driven back for 40 metres.
In Portsmouth, many villages and towns were completely inundated by one foot and a half of water. A considerable part of Cowes was completely immersed in water, boats could navigate through streets, and several sheep drowned. The Itchen ferry was under water and most of the houses in Hythe were inundated. At Eling, all houses near the shore or in the low grounds within half a mile of it, were inundated, but the damage was not very serious. In Chidham, 22 acres of wheat were covered with 2 feet of water (Boza, 2018).
|Loss of life||3 people drowned in Bridport Harbour, 28 drowned in Chiswell.|
|Residential property||80 houses were damaged by the wave in Chiswell. Sea-front houses of Melcombe Regis were flooded. Houses were reported to have been flooded in Sidmouth, Christchurch, Portsmouth, Hythe, and Eling.|
|Evacuation & Rescue||*|
|Cost||£15,000 (about £2.8 million in today’s money).|
|Ports||Bridport Harbour flooded.|
|Transport||Streets were flooded and being impassable from the quantity of water which flowed in.|
|Public services||A church in East Fleet was swept away by a tidal wave.|
|Water & wastewater||*|
|Livestock||Horses drowned. Several sheep drowned in Cowes.|
|Agricultural land||In Chidham, 22 acres of wheat were covered with 2 feet of water.|
|Coastal erosion||Coastal erosion in Sidmouth. Chesil Bank lost 20-30 feet of height. The crossing banks were eroded. Hurst Castle spit were driven back for 40 metres.|
|Coastal defences||The Cobb were breached.|
*No known sources of information available
“One of the highest tides ever remembered”
“The hurricane caused some of the worst flooding ever known on the English Channel coast”
“Twern’t a sea – not a bit of it – twer the great sea hisself rose up level like and come on right over the ridge and all, like nothing in this world”
- West, Ian. M. (2019). ‘Chesil Beach: Storms and Floods’. Geology of the Wessex Coast of Southern England. [Online]. Available at: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/chestorm.htm (Accessed: 3 July, 2019).
- Boza, X. (2018). The Reconstruction and Analysis of Historical Coastal Flood Events from 1800’s in the Solent, UK. Southampton MSc Dissertation.
- Mouland, Luke. (2013). ‘The Great Gale of 1824’. Dorset Life. [Online]. Available at: http://www.dorsetlife.co.uk/2013/01/the-great-gale-of-1824/ (Accessed: 3 July 2019).
- Zong, Y. and Tooley, M. J. A. (2003). ‘Historical Record of Coastal Floods in Britain: Frequencies and Associated Storm Tracks’. Natural Hazards, 29, 13–36. Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1022942801531 (Accessed: 5 March 2015).