The Great Flood of 1968
The Great Flood of 1968 was a disaster for many in Bitton and the surrounding areas. On Wednesday 10th July the rain had been falling in torrents for most of the day and by the evening thunder and lightening heralded the extent of the calamity. In the worst rainstorm for half a century, more than five inches of rain had fallen in less than twenty-four hours, leaving parts of Bitton flooded. In the High Street the water was six feet deep, flooding many buildings and also the cottages in Mill Rank.
The River Boyd broke its banks, washing away the parapet of the bridge near King’s Square. Fire Brigades from Bristol and Bath came out to help rescue residents from their houses on the High Street. Night-shift workers had climbed on to the roof of their factory to escape the rising waters. Fortunately, William Preece of Oldland Common had a motorboat, which was used to rescue some of the trapped people including the factory workers. Warmley Rural District Council sent an emergency team to work throughout the night under the leadership of Mr Edwin Smailes. He was unfortunately injured later on and taken to Cossham Hospital.
Police Sergeant Trevor Sweetland of Oldland Common, dived fully clothed into the water to help a swimming man reach the rescue boat. The crew of the boat anchored it to a lamp post to stop it being swept away in the swirling waters.
The History Group held a special meeting to commemorate the event and brought together many of those directly affected by the floods. Their stories are told on the pages opposite: