THIS year’s abundant rainfall has once again highlighted the significant threat of flooding to numerous towns and villages in Dorset.

During a surprising deluge on Monday, July 18, 1955, Dorset experienced an unprecedented downpour that inundated various areas with up to seven inches of rain within a single day.

We’ve included some pictures of this incredible event here, which highlights the unpredictable nature of threats beyond just winter weather.

Many years ago Maureen Marchant of St Martin’s Field, Martinstown, has shared these 1955 photos with us from that day in July 1955 when the Dorset village hit the headlines.

The long-term village resident went around the besieged village taking these photos.

She recalls: “It rained and rained. The water didn’t come into our house but it was lapping at the back door.”

Although the village of Martinstown, near Dorchester, set the Guinness World Record for the highest level of rainfall in 24 hours (12 inches), Maureen remembers that most people showed a resilient attitude.

“If you worked on the farm like our family then you took everything in your stride.

“When you’ve worked on the farm you’ve seen all sorts.

“The flooding was really something, but we’ve seen all weathers and all sorts of blizzards!”

But another part of the village was much worse affected, Maureen said.

“Down in the village along the main road they were much worse affected. The water levels came up and houses were flooded.”

Elsewhere, a street in Weymouth turned into a river and the only way to get around was by boat.

Residents commandeered a rowing boat to get in and out and, by the looks on their faces, the only response to the situation was ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Many people living in the Westham area of Weymouth couldn’t return to their homes because of the amount of water and had to find overnight accommodation elsewhere.

Nostalgia enthusiast Sue Hogben said the 1955 floods are a meaningful date in history.

She said: “It’s the only date I remember because it’s the year I was born and my old mum was forever telling me about the flood. They lived in Hanover Road then right opposite Radipole gardens and she said water came up over the railway lines at one stage.”

This freak weather brought tragedy to Upwey where, in the aftermath of the flooding, schoolboy Robin Crump, aged 12, died when he went to look at the damage the flood had caused and fell into deep water.

In February 1956, John Jewers, 17, of Chapel Lane, was presented with the Royal Humane Society’s certificate by the Mayor for ‘having on 19 July 1955, at personal risk, gone to the rescue of a boy who drowned in an area disturbed by floods … but whose life he gallantly tried to save.’

The flood left a trail of devastation from Upwey right down the river to Weymouth, through Broadwey, Nottington and Radipole.

The clear up operation was huge with all available council workers and the armed forces pitching in to help the locals remove the debris. Families saved what they could, dried out their homes and tried to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

The Mayor of Weymouth, Alderman Lawson Jones, opened an Appeal Fund on 20 July 1955 to assist those who had suffered loss and distress in the floods.

By the beginning of November the fund stood at £2812.

All applications for assistance and, in some cases where no applications were made but which obviously merited help, were personally investigated on the spot by well known townsmen who volunteered to help in any way they could.

n Thanks to the wonderfully informative website for the extra information in this article.