The Great Flood of 1771 affected several rivers, including the Tyne, Tees, Wear and Eden and settlements across northern England from 16 and 17 November 1771. Its cause was a sudden thaw of the ice in upper Teesdale, a cloud burst over the Pennines and a continuous period of rain. The destructive nature of this storm saw damaged to many bridges across the Tyne and the loss of 32 lives across the region.
It’s on the River Wear though that our story begins. Rivers are dynamic systems, constantly eroding and depositing sediment, slowly moving their course across their floodplains. The day of the 17th November 1771 saw this happen in the most extreme of circumstances at what is now Durham Wildlife Trust’s very own Low Barns Nature Reserve.