The 1952 floods
Plaque on a wall in Bridge Street, Dulverton marking the great height to which the floodwater rose.
On the night of 15 August 1952 heavy rain fell on an already saturated Exmoor. Several inches of rainfall across the moors resulted in a torrent of water in every stream, brook and river in the area. Worst affected was Lynmouth, a small seaside resort with hotels and guest houses full of visitors. The East and West Lyn rivers and their many tributaries united at Lynmouth and carved a swathe of destruction through the little town. Buildings were reduced to rubble and 34 people were killed. The bodies of 4, presumably swept out to sea, were never found.
It is often forgotten that southern Exmoor also suffered, although mercifuly without the heavy death toll. The Barle and Exe rivers tore their way southwards. Most of the Tarr Steps clapper bridge was washed away. A wall of water carrying timber and other debris swept down the Exe valley through Exford and Winsford. Floodwaters damaged the hotel at Simonsbath and premises in Withypool. There were many stories of narrow escapes from drowning. At Dulverton the river Barle destroyed several buildings and people were rescued from bedroom windows. Ten road bridges were destroyed or seriously damaged.