Hartlepool village became an island in the floods

A cyclist presses on with his journey home to Bruntoft Avenue.
A cyclist presses on with his journey home to Bruntoft Avenue.

We’ve seen the pictures before.

But usually, it’s a sight which has been seen in Yorkshire or the Lake District in recent years.

Firemen battle to control the floodwater in Seaton Carew.

Firemen battle to control the floodwater in Seaton Carew.

Around 50 years ago, it was Hartlepool which went through its own storms nightmare with floodwater seeping into houses, roads blocked, accidents, and a village cut off from the rest of the world for hours.

Firemen had to mount a massive round-the-clock rescue operation in November 1967.

It was bad enough for Chief Fire Officer Bruce McLean to describe the scene as the worst he had seen for 20 years.

Blackspots were springing up all over the town. Valley Drive, the Brus Arms area, South End at Seaton Carew and Seaton Lane - they just kept on coming.

This is the worst flooding I have known in 20 years

Chief Fire Officer Bruce McLean, 1967

First up was South End where locals were desperately trying to stop water getting into their homes. By the time firemen got there, a second report had come in - this time for Valley Drive.

As firemen rushed to get to the scene, they found the road blocked in front of them and got their engines to work. Within minutes, they were pumping away more than 2,000 gallons of floodwater a minute.

But the day of drama was relentless and another call came in. This time it was the Brus Arms area. At the time, the Brus area had its own garage and it had to be closed with more than 2ft of water on top of it. At the same time, firemen were trying to pump water from the basement of the Brus Arms Hotel.

And then came Seaton Carew. Seaton Lane was submerged and firemen were struggling to find anywhere to send the water to.

Still the calls came in. Motorists were finding themselves stranded at Hart which was turned into an island for hours. The A179 was under 2ft of water and the Sheraton Lane End was still closed the next morning.

Drivers trying to get out of town via Newton Bewley found the same problem. They were trapped by rising floodwater.

And anyone trying to leave the area via the Sedgefield to Wolviston road found it was just as bad that way.

As the heavens opened, Hartlepool’s fire service found itself in action all over the town. It was such a huge operation, they had to call 12 auxiliary officers back from weekend exercises in Northumberland.

Ten fire engines were out in the town and six auxiliary female fire brigade workers were called in to look after the watch room - and to take food out to the men scattered around the town.

It went on all day and well into the night and affected Peterlee as well where a bus crashed into a bus shelter.

Who remembers the great storm of 67 and were you affected? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk