Row-Boat Dunkirk – The Watergate Floods 1960

Recent floods in England have been described as unprecedented and the latest storms (Ciara and Dennis), have led to further misery in the worst affected areas. Sixty years ago Watergate in Methley was also seriously affected by flooding.

On the weekend of the 26/27th November 1960 the Watergate area of Methley was hit by flooding of biblical proportions after the River Calder burst its banks. Seven small boats where brought in to help, including two from Pontefract boating lake and three from Rounday Park in Leeds. The fire brigade turned up with an inflatable dinghy and the police brought a boat from Tadcaster. The newspapers of the time branded this rescue mission as the ‘Row-Boat Dunkirk’ and the ‘bob-an-hour fleet sails into the floods’.

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.

The floods were the death knell of Watergate, with many of the old cottages demolished and the residents re-housed in Rothwell.

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