St Elizabeth’s flood 1421

800px-Sint_Elisabethsvloed_1421

The Dutch have always been in constant war with the sea. Most people know about the 1953 flood but there have been floods throughout the centuries with higher casualties.

I specified the year in the title because today is the 596th of the St Elizabeth’s flood, but technically this is the 2nd flood with that name,because nearly to the date 17 years earlier on the 19th of November 1407, there had been another Elizabeth’s flood.

medieval-flood-woodcut_thumb

The St. Elizabeth’s flood of 1421 was a flooding of an area in what is now the Netherlands. It takes its name from the feast day of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary which was formerly November 19. It ranks 20th in the list of worst floods in history. During the night of November 18 to November 19, 1421 a heavy storm near the North Sea coast caused the dikes to break in a number of places and the lower lying polder land was flooded. A number of villages were swallowed by the flood and were lost, causing between 2,000 and 10,000 casualties. The dike breaks and floods caused widespread devastation in Zeeland and Holland.

Arnold_Houbraken_and_Romeyn_de_Hooghe_-_St._Elisabeth_vloed_1421_-_Mathias_Balen_-_Beschryving_der_stad_Dordrecht_SAD01_489-71401_0106

It is thought that the flood was caused by an extremely heavy north-western storm, followed by an extremely high storm tide. A spring tide was not responsible, as in 1953, but instead, wet weather led to the increase in river water levels. Gaps in the coastal line of the ‘Grote Waard’ (the southern side of the present-day province of South-Holland), resulting from previous floods, increased the severity of the flood. As a result, the flood reached a large sea arm between South-Holland and Zeeland, destroying the Grote Waard. The Grote Waard would never return to its original shape and form again.

This flood separated the cities of Geertruidenberg and Dordrecht which had previously fought against each other during the Hook and Cod (civil) wars. Most of the land remains flooded even today.

wars

At the lowest point in-land where the flood waters reached, which was passed the city of Dordrecht, the water still remains today.

1200px-Dordrecht_luchtfoto_01

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of €2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

€2,00

 

Advertisements

The London beer flood October 1814

breweryNo this is not a Carlsberg ad.”Carlsberg don’t do floods but if they did”

On Monday 17th October 1814, a terrible disaster claimed the lives of at least 8 people in St Giles, London. A bizarre industrial accident resulted in the release of a beer tsunami onto the streets around Tottenham Court Road.

The Horse Shoe Brewery stood at the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road. In 1810 the brewery, Meux and Company, had had a 22 foot high wooden fermentation tank installed on the premises. Held together with massive iron rings, this huge vat held the equivalent of over 3,500 barrels of brown porter ale, a beer not unlike stout.

240px-The_manor_house_of_Toten_Hall_-_1813

On the afternoon of October 17th 1814 one of the iron rings around the tank snapped. About an hour later the whole tank ruptured, releasing the hot fermenting ale with such force that the back wall of the brewery collapsed. The force also blasted open several more vats, adding their contents to the flood which now burst forth onto the street. More than 320,000 gallons of beer were released into the area. This was St Giles Rookery, a densely populated London slum of cheap housing and tenements inhabited by the poor, the destitute, prostitutes and criminals.

The flood reached George Street and New Street within minutes, swamping them with a tide of alcohol. The 15 foot high wave of beer and debris inundated the basements of two houses, causing them to collapse. In one of the houses, Mary Banfield and her daughter Hannah were taking tea when the flood hit; both were killed.

In the basement of the other house, an Irish wake was being held for a 2 year old boy who had died the previous day. The four mourners were all killed. The wave also took out the wall of the Tavistock Arms pub, trapping the teenage barmaid Eleanor Cooper in the rubble. In all, eight people were killed. Three brewery workers were rescued from the waist-high flood and another was pulled alive from the rubble.

londonbeerflood

All this ‘free’ beer led to hundreds of people scooping up the liquid in whatever containers they could. Some resorted to just drinking it, leading to reports of the death of a ninth victim some days later from alcoholic poisoning.

‘The bursting of the brew-house walls, and the fall of heavy timber, materially contributed to aggravate the mischief, by forcing the roofs and walls of the adjoining houses.‘ The Times, 19th October 1814.

Some relatives exhibited the corpses of the victims for money. In one house, the macabre exhibition resulted in the collapse of the floor under the weight of all the visitors, plunging everyone waist-high into a beer-flooded cellar.

The stench of beer in the area persisted for months afterwards.

The brewery was taken to court over the accident but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God, leaving no one responsible.

The flood cost the brewery around £23000 (approx. £1.25 million today). However the company were able to reclaim the excise duty paid on the beer, which saved them from bankruptcy. They were also granted ₤7,250 (₤400,000 today) as compensation for the barrels of lost beer.

Eventually, Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery went to court over the incident where they were found innocent. The brewery’s flood, the judge said, was nothing more than an “Act of God.

This unique disaster was responsible for the gradual phasing out of wooden fermentation casks to be replaced by lined concrete vats. The Horse Shoe Brewery was demolished in 1922; the Dominion Theatre now sits partly on its site.

Now I don’t have a choice but of I did this would be the way to go