Published: December 13, 2011
30 years ago today: Major 1981 storm hits Burnham-On-Sea

It is exactly 30 years today (Tuesday) since Burnham-On-Sea suffered severe flooding and millions of pounds of damage following a major winter storm.

The events of December 13th, 1981 are still very clear in the memories of many residents - and today takes a special look back at some of the photos and stories from that day.

Widespread damage was caused to the seafront, as pictured, while homes and streets in several parts of the town were flooded following an inundation of sea water caused by a huge high tide, a storm surge and flood water from melting snow flowing down the Bristol Channel.

While fortunately no-one was killed, the conditions caused damage valued at £6million along Somerset's coastline.

It prompted the Environment Agency to build Burnham's new sea defences in the hope of preventing further damage.

Mel Gosling was one of the Burnham Coastguards on duty that evening. He recounts how the storm unfolded: "It was a rainy, bitterly cold night. We were called out at 6pm when the forecasters confirmed the severe weather would be coming to Burnham."

"People were nervous about what was going to happen. We spent much of the evening moving sand bags into position and helping residents move out of basement flats along the seafront."

"Then, in the early hours when the storm hit, the waves just rolled right over the sea wall and into the town. I'd never seen anything like it. The gratings along The Esplanade were thrown upwards by the force of the water under the sea wall - and parts of the wall itself were badly damaged."

Burnham town councillor Neville Jones also remembers the night well: "The sea flooded almost a quarter of a mile inland in Burnham, quickly running down the streets in the town. It was an extraordinary sight to see sea water in Berrow Road and Rectory Road."

"The sea wall was punctured in several places and a lot of work was done to shore it up with sand bags. It certainly was a night to be remembered."

The damage spurred on the Environment Agency to build Burnham's new £7.5m sea defences, which were finally opened in 1988.

Click here for photos of Burnham's 1981 storm

Your memories of Burnham's 1981 storm


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