Watergate Floods, 1960

Looking along Watergate towards the Junction Inn. Same road and similar position to an earlier shot, but the road, hedges and fields are now under water. The Junction Inn is marooned and isolated.

On the weekend of 26th-27th November, 1960, on the Saturday night – Sunday morning, the River Calder burst its banks and Watergate was quickly submerged in the flood waters. In some places the water was 13 ft deep.

The occupants of the cottages in Watergate had to seek refuge in their upstairs rooms and water even invaded these rooms and bedrooms.

Rescuers rushed to their aid. Peter Garland, a local scoutmaster, swam out to the “Bush” and to the cottages telling them not to panic as help was to hand. and boats were fetched from Pontefract Park Lake by Mr. Wheatley and helpers from the Churchside farm and from Roundhay Park Lake by Savile Transport, owned by Mr. Arthur Marsh.

More than 30 people were rescued from their flooded homes by these rowing boats and willing helpers. Fortunately there was no loss of life. The floods were reported extensively in local newspapers eg. the Yorkshire Post and in the national press on Monday 28th, November. Mr. Turner of Scholey Hill Farm (later demolished) had to rope down his floating hen hut and lost 79 chickens, which were being fattened for Christmas.

The floods were the death knell of Watergate. The area, always low-lying, with groups of pretty but old houses all with large gardens and orchards, never recovered from the disaster. The occupants of the cottages never went back to live premanently in their homes. They were gradually re-housed in other properties in the Rothwell area.

The old cottages were demolished except for two standing on higher ground and less affected by the flood. Today the overgrown orchards and old tracks to the cottages are the only reminder of this small community.

Watergate Floods

A Rowing boat on the flooded forecourt of the Junction Inn. This photo shows one of the boats brought from Pontefract and Roundhay Park Lakes to rescue occupants of flooded homes who took refuge in the upstairs rooms of their dwellings. Note the isolation of the inn in the surrounding flood waters.

Watergate Floods

Watergate Floods – here we have an abandoned milk lorry, partially submerged on the flooded road. The driver was trapped whilst trying to get through the rising water.

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