Echoes of the past: Unusual summer flooding in Bailiff Bridge

This photo was taken on 2 July 1968 and shows just how bad the flooding was on that mid-summers day
This photo was taken on 2 July 1968 and shows just how bad the flooding was on that mid-summers day

I like many other residents in the Wakefield Road area leading down into Bailiff Bridge will have received a letter from Yorkshire Water.

The letter is explaining about some important work that needs to be done in respect of reducing the risk of sewer flooding in Bailiff Bridge.

It was good to receive the letter which is very informative and details the traffic diversion that needs to be put in place whilst the work is being carried out. I know that I like many others will set off from home and drive down the hill to Bailiff Bridge and then realise about the diversion. It is at this point I can imagine cursing and chaos with everyone trying to turn around.

That aside, the word flooding in any letter will remind many Bailiff Bridge residents of that strange summer day on 2 July 1968, when at mid-day it was as dark as mid-night. I was working in Wade Street, Halifax on that day and recall people walking through Halifax town centre shouting out that the world was coming to an end.

Within a matter of just a few hours the village was under a few feet of water, with many basements of roadside properties well and truly flooded out.

The barber’s shop on the row of properties back in those days was run by Mr Godfrey, as it had been for many years. A bus driver decided to drive at speed through the flood waters, his actions caused a wave which resulted in the barber’s shop window being pushed through. I am sure Mr Godfrey’s insurance claim would have made interesting reading. When he tried to explain how the damage was caused – ‘a wave….in Bailiff Bridge…’ ’Oh, yeah…’

Previous flooding in Bailiff Bridge prior to 1968 has occurred on fairly regular intervals from as early as 1753. On that occasion the flood washed away the wooden bridge itself. Deciding just who should pay for its replacement went on for some time. Should the residents of Hipperholme cum Brighouse and Hartshead cum Clifton chip-in the £15 it would take to repair and replace the damage bridge. Or should the Turnpike Commissioners pay for it from the toll receipts from users of Wakefield Road, a road that been a turnpike road since 1741. In the end the commissioners agreed to pay it.

Let us hope that the extensive work carried out in the 1980s, when the whole of Bradford Road was dug up and new pipes were laid, has solved the problem once and for all. With this planned work being carried out by Yorkshire Water ensuring the possibility of flooding is a thing of the past.

This featured photograph was taken on 2 July 1968 and shows just how bad the flooding was on that mid-summers day.