Sheffield evening Telegraph March 11, 1908
The Sheffield Flood 1864 – Bodies recovered at Kilnhurst
March 11, 1864.
Ever Sheffielder knows the date, and the fitful happenings of that night and early morning of the 12th March 1864. A minutes before midnight on the 11th the Bradfield reservoir burst, and a great volume of water broke through the rent, carrying death and destruction to Hillsborough through Malin bridge to the Wicker, and rolling on, though with lessened fury down to the Don Valley to Doncaster.
The flood reached Sheffield a few minutes after midnight. People who were in the street said the stillness of the night was suddenly broken by a loud long roar, accompanied by a hissing noise as of water dashing against a rock. This was followed by the shrieks of men, women and children and directly after as the streets in the vicinity were filled by a panic stricken crowd, frantically fleeing from the surging waters.
A Terrible Death Roll
The loss of life was appalling. The dead and missing reached a total of 240.
Some of the bodies were carried for considerable distances by the flood, several being recovered at Rotherham and Kilnhurst. The wreckage borne down by the water was piled up against the peers of Ladies Bridge as high as a parapet of the structure. The destruction of property was enormous, some 4000 houses being flooded, and many buildings entirely swept away.
From newspapers in March 1864:
“Upon approaching Kilnhurst, the wreak appears even more fearful in its character than at Rotherham. The bodies of a woman and child have already been recovered, and it is stated that several others have been washed ashore. At the same place, beds and bedding were found, as also numerous glitches of bacon, some good and valuable pigs, and furniture of every description – evidently the property of poor and hard-working persons, as well as of others holding a more opulent position in society. Bags of flour, puncheons of spirits and barrels of beer and Porter, were to be seen floating in every direction.”