I haven’t said much about the flooding that affected the whole of our valley and others. On Christmas Day 2015 the rain started to fall and it continued through the day into the evening, the night and the following day – and will now be forever remembered as ‘the Boxing Day floods’.
The village of Mytholmroyd, little known to the outside world, was suddenly headline news.
We were away at the time, ironically, in the ‘Lake District’. They’d already suffered from heavy flooding with ancient bridges being swept away; people having to make big detours for what had once been short journeys. Watching the waters rising on the news reports, we knew that our house would be safe, but so many just a few hundred yards away, were inundated with floodwaters of biblical proportions.
Mytholmroyd, the name – according to one of my sources – means ‘the meeting of the waters’. It is, in fact, where the Turvin River (now called Elphin or Calder Brook) meets the bigger Calder River that runs through the valley. Through the course of the valley there is also the canal that runs between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge. Too little, too late perhaps – dredging operations are now taking place in the canal. The river is also heavily silted up.
Some businesses have recovered well. The local independent bookstore in Hebden Bridge, The Bookcase, had their grand re-opening last week. They had no insurance, having been completely flooded out in the summer flood event of 2012. Through the help of their landlord, friends, the community, and generous book donations from well-known authors, they are now back in business. Others haven’t fared so well. There are many shop premises and houses still empty, stripped back to the brickwork, under floor cavities exposed.
The church tower in Mytholmroyd is symbolic, I feel, of the extent of the catastrophe. The clock stopped at 11:30. And it hasn’t been fixed yet. The congregation of St Michael’s church has to meet in the local cricket club’s pavilion for their services.
One of the public houses in the village, the Shoulder of Mutton, isn’t likely to re-open until the summer. The collapsed wall behind the car park has yet to be repaired.
The main street through the town has a gap, like a missing front tooth, where one of the buildings fell into the river. Fortunately those premises had been vacant for some time.
The valley will recover. It will take time but the surrounding hills have a timeless quality that permeates not just the landscape but also the consciousness of the inhabitants. We will endure!
If you want a flavour of the area, before the floods, take a look at my latest romance, The Circle Dance – set very much in the heart of the Calder Valley in Hebden Bridge.
Chapter One of The Circle Dance is available to read on the Affinity eBook Press website.
Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:
(All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited)