Many thanks to Lorna Doone House in Lynmouth for facilitating this camera's location and to the Westcountry Rivers Trust for capitally funding its installation.
This river monitoring webcam is situated on a terrace overlooking the East Lyn River. The Upper East Lyn originates from Malmsmead, formed by two minor tributaries known as the Oare Water and Badgeworthy Water. It meanders for several miles, passing through Brendon, until it converges with Hoar Oak Water at Watersmeet, the location of Watersmeet House. Continuing its course, the river becomes constricted within a narrow gorge section before flowing for another 2.5 miles until it meets the West Lyn River. Finally, it empties into the Bristol Channel at Lynmouth.The streams known as Chalk Water, Weir Water, Oare Water, and Badgeworthy Water cascade down from the picturesque Doone Country of Exmoor and join forces to form the East Lyn. This river then tumbles through the breathtaking wooded ravine of the National Trust's Watersmeet Estate. However, on Friday, August 15, 1952, the tranquil village of Lynmouth experienced what can only be described as the most devastating river flood in English history.On that fateful day, a staggering 9 inches (230mm) of rainfall was recorded, with 6 inches (150mm) falling within a few short hours during the afternoon and early evening. When combined with the 6 inches (150mm) of rain that had already fallen in the first two weeks of August, it is no wonder that the saturated grounds of Exmoor were unable to absorb the downpour and were completely overwhelmed.S. H. Burton, a renowned author, documented that the water reached a depth of 18 inches (450mm) in the moor area surrounding the Chains. Ironically, the road between Lynmouth and Simonsbath, specifically at a location called Dry Bridges, was reported to the Devon Constabulary as washed away and impassable during the early evening. This road lies half a mile above Farley Water, the nearest river. It was estimated that 90 million tons of rain fell in North Devon and West Somerset on that particular day.The excessive rainfall inundated the many tributaries of the East and West Lyn rivers, resulting in torrents of water, soil, boulders, and vegetation cascading through the narrow valleys of Exmoor, ultimately converging at sea level in Lynmouth. Along its path, various bridges impeded the flow until they eventually collapsed, unleashing a devastating surge of water and debris upon Lynmouth late in the evening. The night proved catastrophic, effectively destroying the town.The statistics from the event are staggering. The West Lyn River surged to a height of 60 feet (18.25 meters) above its normal level at its peak. In the broader area, 34 individuals lost their lives, with 28 casualties occurring in the Lynmouth/Barbrook vicinity alone.In 1953, the "58th report of Scientific Memoranda of the Devonshire Association," prepared by specialist Mr. C. H. Dobbie, concluded, among other findings, that the water flow in the tributaries and branches exceeded the definition of an "acute catastrophic flood" in England. Based on preliminary investigations, the flow could be categorized as one of the most extreme flood discharges globally. Furthermore, Mr. Dobbie calculated that the water accumulated in that single day would meet the water needs of Lynmouth's entire population for 108 years.Following the devastation, approximately 114,000 tons of rubble were cleared from the village. Some of the debris was repurposed to expand the Esplanade Car Park, while the majority was disposed of in the channel and dispersed by tidal motion.The process of rebuilding and remodeling Lynmouth took nearly six years. The design of the flood overflow area above the Maybridge was meticulously planned to accommodate one and a half times the volume of water that flowed through the village on that catastrophic day. This precautionary measure aims to prevent such a disaster from ever occurring again.If you have the opportunity to visit Lynmouth in the future, I encourage you to explore the Flood Memorial Hall near the harbor. Alternatively, you can visit the Exmoor National Park Centre at the Lynmouth Pavilion on the seafront, where informative guided walks, featuring photographs and accounts of the tragic events that unfolded that night, are regularly conducted.