PRESERVING THE PAST . . . . FOR THE FUTURE
FLOOD AT MAUCHLINE By H.S.Nisbet, Printer, Mauchline
20th July 1859:
On Wednesday, this district was visited by a severe thunderstorm, and the village was flooded to an extent never before seen or heard of in this elevated locality. Between three and four o’clock in the afternoon, there came suddenly on a very heavy rain, which accompanied with vivid flashes of lightning, loud peals of thunder and occasionally hailstones of various shapes and sizes, continued for upwards of two hours, all the time falling as if poured from buckets. Such indeed was the quantity that fell, every road and thoroughfare seemed like the channel of a muddy river. Streets were knee deep, and water came gushing out of doors and passages as if from a water wheel. The Chalk, the small burn which flows through Mauchline, being unable to carry off the accumulating waters, rapidly rose in some places from ten to seventeen feet above it’s ordinary level, and formed a loch stretching from the New Road, to far above the property which stands on the site of Castle Daffing. From the lower apartments of this house, Mrs Hamilton and family were glad to make their escape with their lives, leaving all their furniture, bedclothes, and other belongings behind. In the thatched house on the other side of the burn, Mary Goldie, a young woman in a delicate state of health, was alone, and on the water reaching her bed, she managed to creep out upon the dresser, where she remained with her head at the ceiling and the water up to her chin, till rescued from her perilous position by being drawn through a hole in the roof. In the adjoining house, Mr & Mrs Robert Smith fled to the attic, and were rescued in a similar manner by being taken through the roof. From the two adjoining houses, the inmates easily escaped, leaving all behind them, but in the third, Mrs Hay, a frail old woman, lay till the water was up to her bed, and was then taken through a small window by Mr Stewart, out much respected police officer. At this place, Burnside, the lowest house was submerged till up a good piece in the thatch; and in Mrs Hay’s, the furthest up the water stood, was as high as the bed. Opposite on the expanse of water, were seen floating summer houses, boxes, barrels, pieces of furniture, etc etc, and conspicuous among the debris, Burnside wooden bridge, which finally found a resting place near it’s more stable neighbour, the one at the Auld Kiln, as if the Twa Mauchline Brigs were anxious to have a little chat on the strange turn of events, which so unexpectedly brought them together.
As the increasing water could not get quickly enough away beneath the New Road, it flowed over on the street till about knee deep, and then gushed round the Back Causway with all the rapidity and appearance of a mountain torrent. What came boiling and foaming from beneath the road, swept with relentless force through the broadside of the workshop at Grey’s Brig, which was lately occupied by Messrs. Davidson, Wilson, and Amphlett, who fortunately had removed from it nearly everything of value. Another workshop adjoining it, was also torn down, and from the next dwelling house, Mr Loudoun’s family and other two children were with difficulty rescued; also a pig at this place and another on the north side of the New Road. Mrs Tannock, who lived above Mr Loudoun, was caught in the passage, when up to the neck in water, and both Mrs Tannock and the one who was trying to save her would have been carried off, had they not been rescued by another.
All the houses from Grey’s Bridge to the one occupied by Miss Brown, milliner and dressmaker, (Formerly Nance Tannock’s), were flooded more or less, and the water, after passing through the broadside of the workshop, forced down about twenty five yards of the stone wall opposite, swept through some fine gardens, taking away bushes, vegetables, earth, and everything in it’s course.
Next, it broke down the stone walls of the North West Vennel, and afterwards found for itself a more spacious channel through the policies of Netherplace. In the court at the back of the mansion house and in the flower garden, the water stood as high as four feet, and the cellars were so completely filled that it came boiling out at the front. At several places in the lawns, the water burst up from it’s covered channel. At the New Road it carried away about half the breadth of the street, and the other streets were more or less torn and large holes scooped out in them, the worst of which was the Back Causeway.
After passing Netherplace, the waters rushed on without meeting any impediment till they came to the railway embankment, which forced them through the arch into the courtyard and around Bogwood houses, in which they stood as high as four feet in some places. The whole stock of cattle had been lately taken in to prevent injury from lightning, and they were now in danger of drowning, had not all the doors been forced to make a passage for the rising waters which carried off and destroyed a great deal of wheat, oatmeal, and other property.
Great as was the havoc which the flood made in property, the greatest gloom cast over the town was the loss of one of Mr Drummond’s family, an amiable girl about ten years of age. When the waters rose high in the kitchen, all fled to the attics above, and when there, they were in great fear of the flood sapping the foundations of the house. After engaging in prayer, and embracing each other, an aunt and a brother went out at the kitchen window and got safe to the adjoining fields. Mrs Drummond tried to keep the rest in, but Jeannie escaped down the stairs unobserved, passed out the window, and in attempting to reach her aunt, was carried down the stream and drowned. The last words she was heard to utter were, “We will look to Jesus and he will save us”.Her mother knew not that anything was wrong till the aunt gave a scream and cried out to those within, “Keep well together, for Jeannie’s gone”. The dead body was shortly afterwards found caught in a hedge at Templebogwood. Mr Drummond and family are much respected and all deeply sympathise with them in their bereavement, as well as their great loss of property.
Much sympathy is also shown towards the other sufferers, the principal of whom are Mr Borland, Mains, and in the village Messers James Hamilton, Robert Smith, Thomas Hood, Robert Goldie, Thomas McCrorie, William Loudoun, William Tannock, and Messers Davidson, Wilson, and Amphlett, also Miss Paton, Mrs Alexander, Mrs Hay and Mrs Murdoch. The merchants who suffered most were messers William Ronald, James Brownlie and Bruce Taylor. Many gardens were completely destroyed, and during the flood there were seen floating down some of the streets, pieces of furniture, cabbage and other vegetables, hay and large pieces of wood. As the aggregate amount of loss sustained in the town and neighbourhood, no proper estimate can yet be given; and great as the loss is, we have reason to be thankful for had the flood happened during the night, there would have undoubtedly have been a much greater loss of both life, and property. Great praise is due to our constable, Mr Stewart, also to Messers John Davidson, Dumfries Ballantine, William Gibb, Alexander Marshal, Henry Doak, Jame McKie, Robert Goldie, Robert Hay. Hugh Wilson, Thomas Wilson, Robert Glover, James Wilson, James Gibson, Robert Train and a host of others whom we have not space to name. Their daring and hazardous efforts as well as their indefatigable labours were instrumental in saving much life, and property. At Burnside and Grey’s bridge, the houses have frequently been partially been inundated but such a flood as this has never been seen by the oldest inhabitant, and without doubt, has never been experienced in the annals of this ancient village. We were witnesses of the destructive flood in Kilmarnock a few years ago, and did not expect again to see such another dreadful sight. Had our merchants and manufacturers been possessed of sunk cellars for storing their goods, their loss would have been much greater.
It is to be hoped a public meeting will be held immediately, and that some efforts will be made on behalf of those on whom the flood has entailed much privation and suffering.
H.S. Nisbet, Printer, Mauchline