| The news of the floods in Boscastle, North
Cornwall on 16 August 2004 prompted me to find out more than I remembered
about floods in Polperro - which has a very similar topography - a small
village in a deep river valley - which is vulnerable to the same sort of
freak flash floods when there is an exceptional rainfall on the surrounding
hills which drain down into the river which passes through the village.
In recent times there have been two serious floods - in 1976 and 1993. The flood in 1976 was more extensive because it coincided with a high surge tide.
The photos on this page are, at the moment, all of the December 30 1993 flood. We would welcome photos - and recollections - of the earlier flood (and indeed any previous floods in Polperro of which you may have information and/or photos).
As can be seen from the photo to the left, the 1993 flood, whilst not the scale of disaster as has been suffered in Boscastle this week, was serious enough. Fortunately, as in Boscastle, no lives were lost, though there was considerable damage to properties and vehicles.
A consequence of the 1993 flood was the construction of a flood relief scheme which now takes excess flows of water in the river through a new tunnel built southwards through the hill/cliff between the village and the sea and discharges directly into the sea. This should avoid further such scenes, though, of course, even such flood relief measures can be overwhelmed by the "once in ten thousand years" size of storm deluge.
We are grateful to Charles Mayo, a resident of Polperro,
for permission to publish the above photos. He took the above photos
and is the owner of their copyright - they may not be copied or published
in any form or medium without written permission from him. Thanks also
to Brian Shepherd for information and for tracking down Charles' photos.
A more frequent phenomenon in Polperro is minor flooding of the lowest lying parts of the harbour area when there are very high "Spring" tides. At present, this is merely a phenomenon or curiousity which adds extra interest for visitors, but with global warming set to raise average sea levels by up to a metre during this century, these high tide floods could become much more frequent and penetrate further, especially when such high tides combine with storm surges. However, these days the harbour does have a massive power operated gate which can act as a barrage to keep out tidal surges.
Bob Tarr, webmaster, August 2004