Here are some pictures from the 1997 floods in Whitehaven Market
place when a combination of high tides and heavy rains caused the water to rise
in the centre of the town and spill out of the harbour.
The photos have been taken from old slide film and so the quality isn't great but they are certainly a reminder of the flooding danger before the lock gates.
The swans for some reason are keeping to the harbour, although there seems little to stop them swimming into town.
This photo shows the water washing over the lime tongue as the harbour is completely full, with fishing boats above their moorings and a large tank of diesel almost in the water.
Cars parked where the hub was later built are up to the top of their wheel arches in water and more worryingly the electricity sub-station behind the flats also appears inundated.
Flooding extended along West Strand past the end of Quay Street and the entrance to the car park with what was then the Standard pub surrounded by sea.
The junction of Strand Street and the Market Place before the mini-roundabout was created is also deep enough to cause difficulties for traffic.
The flooding also extends a fair way up Strand Street.
It appears the ground floor of La Chic would have got a soaking but the building next door which appears to have a cellar would have needed pumping out.
Looking down to the Market Place past Arrighi's restaurant and The Vine we can see that the water level was up to the top step of the gazebo.
From the James Street end it can be seen that the entire length of the Market Place was flooded which is not so strange when you think that before the Pow Beck was culverted the market area had the river flowing down the centre into the sea.
The flood water continued for some way up Roper Street to the back entrance of what was then Woolworths.
Much of the lower half of King Street was also affected with
shops obviously damaged including another two in addition to Woolworths that
no longer exist - Victoria Wines and R.A. Byers, mens outfitters.
Thankfully, with the installation of the tidal lock gates this type of flooding seems to be a thing of the past. These gates prevent a high tide entering the inner harbour and if there is also a heavy rainfall predicted, the water in the inner harbour is lowered on the previous tide to accomodate it.
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