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The 1948 Floods

By 12 August 1948, many parts of Berwickshire had been hit by one third of their annual rainfall - in the space of just six days.

The floods it caused have been described as the greatest natural disaster in the history of the Borders.

The rivers Tweed, Blackadder, Whiteadder, Till and Eye Water all overflowed causing huge amounts of damage.

Low lying farmland near Ayton was turned into a giant inland lake estimated to be more than a mile long and 28ft (8.53m) deep containing 400 million gallons (1,820 million litres) of water.

The lake was only held back by a 60ft (18.28m) high railway embankment on the main Berwick to Edinburgh line.

There were fears the embankment could collapse sending the water rushing down a gorge onto nearby Eyemouth.

A survey later showed that 20 bridges in the area had been washed away, while a further seven were badly damaged.

Such was the scale of the disaster that the Army was called in to assist.

The Royal Engineers helped to put up wartime Bailey Bridges in order to allow many routes to reopen.

However, the whole recovery operation took time and the main East Coast railway line was shut for 11 weeks.

The repairs bill for the destruction has been estimated at the equivalent of £40m nowadays.

It was the kind of devastation which anyone who witnessed it was unlikely to forget - even six decades later. 

(extract from BBC news channel)

For more information see British Pathe newsreel from 1948

Repair Work

The work done to repair the main East Coast railway line was documented in a film made by British Railways.

Click below to view the 22 minute film. 

More photos of the repair work which was carried out on the railway can be seen in the photos section or by clicking the button below. Many of these were loaned to the Society by Lorne Anton, to whom we are very grateful.

Ayton Village Damage

Although great damage was done to the railway the village didn't escape the effects of the torrential rain. The burn which runs through the village (now mostly piped underground) became blocked and overflowed into Beanburn. The photo below shows the High Street/Beanburn/ Old Town crossroads.

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