Our, photographs (which were taken by Mrs. Wrate, Lumley Road) give a vivid idea of what Skegness’s chief thoroughfare looked like on Sunday after one of the most alarming storms and deluge of rain within living memory.
The morning was oppressively close and the hint of “thunder in the air” was strengthened in the early afternoon, when heavy clouds began to bank up in the south-west. Preceded by a short shower, the storm broke about 4 o’clock, and few persons can recall such a torrential downpour as was experienced. Indeed, many persons were under the belief that a cloudburst of a similar nature to those which created such havoc at Louth and Horncastle some years ago had occurred, and genuine alarm began to be felt when the deluge showed no signs of cessation.
The railway company alone carried 8,106 persons to the resort on Sunday, while the road traffic was of huge proportions, parking and garage accommodation in the vicinity of the sea front being at a premium. Consequently thousands of people were scattered for miles along the beach and hundreds who had disregarded the gathering clouds were drenched to the skin within a few minutes.
The downpour was supplemented by vivid flashes of lightning, and huge peals of thunder which seemed to split the very heavens in twain, and the ccombination
of the elements was terrifying in the extreme to those of a nervous temperament. At times, too, the wind resembled a tornado and was of such force as to cause the large tress in the principal thoroughfares to sway alarmingly.
JOLLY FISHERMAN STRUCK.
The Jolly Fisherman who acted as a weather-vane on the top of the flagpole near the South Parade Sports Ground was struck by lightning, and was hurled to the ground, accompanied by about four feet of the pole. The electric fluid ran down the steel rod and scorched the stonework at the bottom. Hundreds of persons who were sheltering around the Boating Lake witnessed the downfall of the famous figure, and portions of the woodwork were scattered on the lake.
The chimney of a house on the parade was also struck by lightening, but no actual damage, resulted, although effect was to dislodge a shower of soot which created a terrible mess in the basement.
It is also stated that a waitress employed at a cafe was so upset by a flash of lightening that she dropped a tray full of tea-things, and the crash, synchronizing with a heavy peal of thunder, caused some consternation among lady patrons of the cafe!
Many ladies fainted during the storm.
A Wainfleet Road resident declares that he saw what resembled a ball of fire descend during the most vivid flash of lightning, owing it is surmised, to the abnormal rainfall, a large subsidence occurred on the Grand Parade apposite Edinburgh Avenue.
The portion was fenced off and the cavity was filled in by Council workmen immediately the storms was over.
Did space permit, several columns of this newspaper could be filled in recording storm incidents and scenes. As our photographs reveal, Lumley Road presented an almost unbelievable sight, and throughout the lengthy duration of the storm tradesmen and their staffs made heroic efforts to stem the “tide” from their premises. Practically every basement and cellar was flooded, many to a depth of several inches and water poured into shops and houses, creating a good deal of minor damage, and great inconvenience.
In Prince George Street a baker had several sacks of flour rained, while at another bakery establishment a stock of coke in the yard was washed into the street.
Crowds of persons sheltering under verandah, and awnings of the Lumley Road found diversion in watching the ‘water splashes” created by passing omnibuses and cars, the water in some cases being thrown to a height of several feet. The water reached the carburettor of one car marooned near the Lion Hotel, and after several ineffectual efforts to start the engine the car had to be pushed into a nearby garage for attention.
The public conveniences Lumley Road had to he closed through flooding.
A section of Butler’s Amusements Park was flooded; the Dodg’em track being submerged and site-holders at the north end of the parade also suffered damage and inconvenience through the abnormal rainfall.
Something akin panic ensued among the passengers in Kettering buses which essayed to leave the town while the storm was at its height, and Mr. Harry Healey, of Wainfleet Road, kindly sheltered no fewer than 42 persons who were too terrified to proceed further until the storm abated.
Only the crown of Lumley Roadd remained clear of water, and directly the storm was over hundreds of persons who had been sheltering along the thoroughfare crowded on this dry section. At the same time several hundred cars and omnibuses poured out of parks and garage for the homeward journey, and as pedestrians refused to be
“pushed” into the water some gigantic “hold-ups” resulted. At frequent intervals vehicles stretched in all unbroken line from the Lumley Square to the Pier entrance, and it is little short of a miracle that no accidents occurred.
The storm was succeeded by brilliant hot sunshine, and within an incredibly short space of time the floods had subsided, and the streets were as “dry as a bone”. In basements and cellars, householders were engaged for several hours in “baling out” operations, and the majority of these will not soon forget the storm of July 12th 1931!
It is sincerely to be hoped that the legend associate with St Swithin’s Day will not be fulfilled!
Source: Skegness Standard 1931