Sandbags and bowsers: A look at floods that have battered Britain through the years

Thames floods of 1947

The flooding of the River Thames in March 1947 came after a particularly severe winter and resulted in tens of thousands of people being displaced.

Efforts being made to close the gap in the north bank of the Little Ouse, near Hockwold, Norfolk.
Efforts being made to close the gap in the north bank of the Little Ouse, near Hockwold, Norfolk. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Coming less than two years after the end of the Second Wold War, the floods hit the nation's food supply as around 70,000 acres of land were underwater leading to the loss of thousands of crops leading rationing being introduced for fresh produce like potatoes.

East London resident queue to get their supply of water from the Wanstead Council Water Wagon.
East London resident queue to get their supply of water from the Wanstead Council Water Wagon. Credit: Topham/Topham Picturepoint/Press Association Images

East Coast flood of 1953

This infamous flood was caused by a combination of strong wind and a deep Atlantic depression in the North Sea at the same time as the UK was experiencing spring tides.

A tidal surge down the North Sea resulted in the tide rising almost six metres above the mean sea level and overwhelmed sea defences all along the East Coast.

Cambridge undergraduates carry sandbags as they help to repair the Ouse bank at Magdalen near King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Cambridge undergraduates carry sandbags as they help to repair the Ouse bank at Magdalen near King's Lynn, Norfolk. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

More than 30,000 people were evacuated and more than 320 people were killed in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Scotland.

A church is surrounded by flood water in the area of Foulness in the Thames Estuary.
A church is surrounded by flood water in the area of Foulness in the Thames Estuary. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

'The Great Storm' of 1968

Eight people died in the floods, with three being washed away in a car in Bedminster in July. Around 25,000 homes were flooded with Surrey bearing the brunt of the damage.

Several road and rail bridges were damaged, six were so badly damaged they had to be completely rebuilt.

Residents of Pensford in Somerset clean up debris left by the flooding of 1968.
Residents of Pensford in Somerset clean up debris left by the flooding of 1968. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Most of the main roads from the south and west to London were closed for at least 24 hours, some were blocked for 3 days.

Caroline Abell, a seventeen month old baby is carried through the swirling flood waters at Frankwell, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
Caroline Abell, a seventeen month old baby is carried through the swirling flood waters at Frankwell, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

East Anglia floods of 2003

Water levels in 2003 reached 1947 flood levels leaving hundreds of homes flooded.

East Anglia and the Midlands saw rising water as did the Thames.

Watch Stephen Smith's report from the time:

Summer floods of 2007

Thirteen people lost their lives in the floods during the summer of 2007. The rising River Severn engulfed a substation leaving 15,000 people without power. The Army Navy and Fire Service were all drafted in to help with the flood damage.

350,000 were left without water and bowsers were put out on streets that had not been flooded, but some families were airlifted when there was no way to get water to them.

The economic costs of the 2007 were estimated to be £3.2 billion.

Watch Helen Callaghan's report from the time: