Cemeteries around the city have paid tribute to the victims of the Great Sheffield Flood this week by sharing the stories of those who died in the tragedy 157 years ago.
The flood, which happened on 11 March 1864, was caused by the collapse of the Dale Dyke Dam, destroying more than 600 houses and leading to the deaths of over 240 people.
Flood victims are buried across the city, with 77 located at Sheffield General Cemetery. This includes the Gannon family from Neepsend Gardens, where both parents and their six children perished in the disaster.
Regarding the flood, Sheffield General Cemetery said: “The flood was a very significant tragic event in Sheffield’s history. The event affected many lives.
“As a Cemetery, we want to make sure that the stories, memories and lives that are found here get told and that we can provide ways to share and reflect on Sheffield’s past and learn about what happened in that tragic event and afterward.”
The crack in the dam was first reported by William Horsfield, a local quarryman, on his way home from work. Malcolm Nunn, 73, an archivist at Bradfield Archives and a direct descendant of Mr Horsfield, has a direct interest in the flood due to the familial connection.
He said: “Normally we do walks to mark the anniversary but obviously we can’t do anything this year.
“It’s Britain’s biggest natural water disaster. It’s been brought into the forefront more in the last 50-or-so years because schools have been doing it as a project. When I was at school it was never mentioned.
“It didn’t get the notoriety you’d expect in them days because the water companies tried to cover it up. Claims went into the thousands. Some people didn’t get anything.”
Over 7,500 claims were filed against Sheffield Waterworks, who built the dam, and £455,000 was paid out – one of the largest insurance claims of the Victorian period.
Cllr Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said it’s important for people to reflect on the flood and the stories of Sheffield citizens.
She added: “The Great Sheffield Flood is one of the most significant events in our city’s history, that affected so many lives in so many ways.
“Our cemeteries are filled with the memories of Sheffield’s history and they play a very important role in keeping that history alive today and into future generations.”
For more information on the flood, visit https://www.gencem.org/thegreatsheffieldflood.