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The 1960s Floods - some new photos

October and December 1960

Page updated 18th October 2010

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There were many photographs taken of the October and December floods in Exeter, during 1960. Most of this selection of photographs have never been published before. Included are the only quality colour photographs that I have seen, showing the oil stained red-brown water on both sides of the river.

Cowick StreetAt the end of Cowick Street, near the Exe Bridge, people stood around on small islands of slightly higher ground, waiting to be rescued. Some just plunged in and waded home. The rebuilding of the street on the right hand side is in progress, while the left side, where the modern library is located, has still to be demolished. Photo taken by Clifford Stanton.

Okehampton StreetThere are several dramatic photographs from this viewpoint along Okehampton Street, but this is the only colour one I have come across The Royal Oak public house, that lost the famous beer barrel is behind the large building on the right. Photo taken by Clifford Stanton.

Exe Island under waterThe oil streaked muddy red water, in this photograph looking down on Exe Island does not look very pleasant. Now, some of the cars would be a star attraction at a veteran car rally. The photographer was probably hanging out of a window of one of the buildings that were in front of the Mission Hall (Plumb-In Centre). The Frog Street tunnel is to the left. Now, this is the section of Frog Street between the northern bridge and the Bridge Street underpass. Photo taken by Clifford Stanton.

Flooding on the QuaySt Thomas and Exwick took the brunt of the floods, but property on the Exeter side of the city also suffered. Here a Frank Tucker, Westbrick lorry and an Initial Laundry van are caught on the Quay. Photo taken by Clifford Stanton.

The river overflows Okehampton StreetNew The photo by Clifford Stanton of Okehampton Street in flood, above, appears to have been taken from the middle of the deluge. This photo shows the rise of Okehampton Street as it meets the junction by the Exe Bridge from which the photo was taken. It is covered by spectators keen to see the swirling waters. Nowadays there would be police and barriers to keep the public away. Photo taken by Tony Melhuish.

Watching the flood from Exe BridgeNew Exe Bridge was a barrier to the flood waters. It was a popular place for spectators to watch the progress of the floods. This photo shows the bridge with St Thomas on the other side. Photo taken by Tony Melhuish.

Water rises against the bridgeNew Another colour view of the Exe Bridge, lined with curious onlookers, as the flood raged through St Thomas. Photo taken by Tony Melhuish.

The line at Cowley Bridge floodsNew Tony Melhuish travelled from Exeter to Crediton but had to return via, Bickleigh and Cowley due to the rising floods closing the main road. This journey showed him that the Creedy was already in full flood before the Exe flood waters had reached Exeter from the Exe catchments area. He thinks the combined rivers ultimately overwhelmed the city’s river defences. This photo shows the Exe spreading out over the flood plain and engulfing the railway. Photo taken by Tony Melhuish.

A truck rescues peopleThe next six photographs where taken by Raymond Hall, and have also have never been published before. A small flatbed lorry carries people from Cecil Road into flooded Cowick Street. The lorry is pointing towards Buller Road. Photo courtesy of Raymond Hall.

Gervaise AvenueThis photo shows Gervase Avenue with the old malt house in the background. The water is barely over the bank, but it has flooded the ground floors of the houses. Photo courtesy of Raymond Hall.

Flooding by Pikes GarageAlphington Street didn't escape the flooding and cars can be seen passing Pikes Garage, on the left. Photo courtesy of Raymond Hall.

Bus ploughs through floodA City of Exeter bus also passes Pikes Garage on the way to Marsh Barton Road. Photo courtesy of Raymond Hall.


Water under Exe BridgeThis photographs shows quite clearly why the old Exe Bridge was removed in 1971, as the waters back up against the iron archway. The modern bridges are designed to allow the smooth passage of water under them at times of flood. Photo courtesy of Raymond Hall.

Soldier carries woman to shoreThe last photograph from Michael Hall's father shows a soldier carrying a woman to dry ground, as the other gentlemen look on. It is thought to be Church Street, St Thomas. Photo courtesy of Raymond Hall.

Cowick Street by churchA view of Cowick Street with the St Thomas churchyard on the left. The water is quite deep this far from the river and it is still raining hard.

Cowick Street looking towards the riverLooking back down Cowick Street towards the area where the photo left was taken. The water has not yet reached this far, although the man on the bicycle is not going to risk it. Householders look on anxiously, hoping that the water does not come any further along the street.

The flood waters almost reached RedhillsThis photograph is taken in Okehampton Road, just below Redhills Hospital. The post office is a dozen steps further down, on the right. This was the limit of the water in the road, as the ground starts to rise towards the hospital. Photo Exwick Local History Group.

Bakery vehicles park as bakery is floodedThings were just as bad at Exwick, with some parts almost 2 metres under water. The Hill, Palmer and Edwards 'Mothers Pride' bakery was under water, causing their fleet of lorries and vans to park up on Exwick Road from Foxhayes towards the cemetery. Photo Exwick Local History Group.

Shops at Exwick inundatedThese two shops at Valley Road, which was the entrance to the Exwick bakery, are well under water. Photo Mike Ewing.

A fire engine at ExwickLooking in the other direction from the shops at New Valley Road towards Foxhayes, there is a fire engine standing by, although it would have been useless for pumping until the water started to drop. Photo Mike Ewing.

Boating to churchThe British, as an island race have always been fond of boating. Here, folk from Exwick are rowing up Station Road and checking when the next church service is due! Photo Exwick Local History Group.

Exwick Road is like a canalLooking more like a canal than a road, the Exwick Road by Exwick Villas is in full flow. Although the two floods of 1960 were particularly bad, this was a quite common occurrence in Exwick, and almost yearly, the occupiers of these houses had to dry out. Photo Exwick Local History Group.

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