Saturday, 15 August 2015

Beware - the rain falls mainly on the plain

I think I should have been grateful that the forecast heavy rain never arrived yesterday. I've been looking at Google today and discovered that when it does rain here, boy oh boy, do bad things happen.

The calm river now compared with 2007 below
Evesham has been a regular, severe victim of flooding from the river for many hundreds of years. The really big one in 2007 was unimaginably huge when you compare these photos of the riverside then and now. It's not just the height of the water that's scary when you're sitting in a boat, it's how quickly the river can rise. Back in 1998, it came up 19 feet in a few hours! Static homes were swept off the nearby caravan site and boats off their moorings to be crushed against the town bridge arches, threatening it with serious damage. There's nowhere off-river you can escape to in that time; just trust your luck to some tall mooring posts.
The park bandstand in 2007
And as it looks from our window today
It's the low lying floodplain land that gives the Vale of Evesham the fertile soil that has made it a centre of fruit and vegetable growing – glass houses and polytunnels abound.
The C15th Round House is one of several old buildings
I remember on many road journeys dropping down from the scenic hills and picture postcard villages of the Cotswolds into the flatlands of the Vale.  It may be a centre of agriculture but that's not where the money is these times and the area always had a reek of being down-at-heel compared to the posh affluence on the Tory hills above it.
Never more than now. Charity shops, cheap stores and closed frontages abound while foreign voices fill the streets. The agri-businesses offer ready work for Poles, Rumanians, Portuguese and every other nationality whose home countries have high unemployment and poor living standards.
Life must be hard back there to work in agriculture here – I've done it as a student and it's the toughest of work – especially for minimum wages, rough accommodation and quite likely exploitation too.
The other side of the river from the main shopping area lies Dock Street, a ramshackle road of small shops that has become the home for ethnic stores of every sort. Without them it would doubtless be even more down-at-heel than it is.
The Abbey's surviving tower is under repair
All that said, riverside Evesham is pretty enough. There's a large park sweeping uphill to the remains of the old Abbey that must have dominated the scene before Henry VIII flattened it. Now just a tower survives, clad in scaffolding for restoration at the moment to ensure it continues to survive for many more years.
And the weather forecast remains fine for the next few days so I don't need to have bad dreams about those flooding pictures.


  1. If you want to see a boaters point of view of the floods then look at this blog

  2. Wow! That is an extraordinary and gripping story. Thanks for sharing it.