Clearing up after the floods of 1968

Storm Eleanor did her furious best to give 2018 a seriously soggy start – but her efforts have been nothing when compared to the storm of September 1968.

OK, so most of us remember the storm of 1987 as the Big One but, while that one caused more damage to Crawley’s trees, 1968 saw far more flooding. Impressive amounts of flooding!

Neighbours help get rid of the flood water at a house in Buckswood Drive, Gossops Green, in September 1968

These pictures were published in the Crawley & District Observer and show the aftermath of two days of torrential downpours, which saw 10cm of rain flood the town in 24 hours.

The bottom right photo of the three gents is particularly interesting. They worked for Crawley Urban District Council and were snapped as they lugged sodden carpets and rugs from people’s flooded homes.

But they didn’t take them to the tip – they took them to the town’s heated swimming pool, where they were laid out to dry. Imagine that happening today!

The summer of 1968 was recorded as the wettest in south east England since 1931.

The thunderstorms of September 14/15 saw the highest amount of rainfall in the area in 100 years and the flow on the River Mole was the highest recorded at the time.

As well as Crawley, the storms battered Gatwick, Croydon, Guildford, Farnham, Leatherhead, Basingstoke, Lewisham and Greenwich.

More than 14,000 properties were flooded, bridges were washed away, phone lines were down and roads closed. (Source:

What are your memories of the storms of 1968? And can anyone name the three workmen?

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