The 11th November 1977 – defence failure and flooding at Fleetwood, Lancashire

Thirty-eight years ago, on the 11th-12th November 1977, the coastal town of Fleetwood (and the surrounding area) was flooded following extensive overtopping (and possibly some breaching) of defences. The other worst effected towns included Knott End, Pilling, Morecambe, Blackpool, Crossens and Haverigg . As many as 5,000 properties were flooded (FWN, 2007) with almost 2000 of these to over 1 m depth. This event appears in our database with a return period of 13 years registered at Wick (northern Scotland), although this value misrepresents the severity of the event as local sea level data is not available. The return period at Fleetwood was estimated at 30 years (Wicks et al. 2003), although waves were also severe and would be likely to increase the extremity of the sea levels. This event is an example of one for which flooding was severe over a relatively small area (approx. 5km2), but caused perhaps the greatest number of properties flooded in the UK since the east coast floods of 1953! Serious flooding had previously occurred in Fleetwood on 28th-29th October 1927, which inundated over 1,800 properties (Wyre Borough Council, 2013).

References & further reading

Bates, P. D., Dawson, R. J., Hall, J. W., Horritt, M. S., Nicholls, R. J., Wicks, J. & Mohamed Ahmed Ali Mohamed, H., 2005. Simplified two-dimensional numerical modelling of coastal flooding and example applications. Coastal Engineering. 52, pp. 793-810.

FWN (2007). Anniversary of Fleetwood floods marked. Fleetwood Weekly News. Fleetwood, Lancashire. Available here. Accessed 24/08/2014.

Wicks, J., Mocke, R., Bates, P.D., Ramsbottom, D., Evans, E., Green, C., 2003. Selection of appropriate models for flood modelling. Proceedings of the 38th DEFRA Annual Flood and Coastal Management Conference, 16th to 18th July 2003, Keele University, UK.

Wyre Borough Council, 2013. Wyre Urban Core Strategy: Strategy Appraisal Report, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. Available at:

Video of the 1927 flood: