CHOBHAM has been flooded numerous times down the years, when the Mill Bourne has burst its banks

But the floods in June 1903 appear to have been particularly bad, as we see in this week’s Peeps into the Past.

As Peeps researcher Mark Coxhead discovered via back copies of the News & Mail on microfilm at the Surrey History Centre, the Woking area experienced very heavy rainfall from Tuesday 16 June 1903 for almost 60 hours.

An almost incessant downpour was followed by exceptionally heavy showers at intermittent intervals. The News & Mail reported that virtually all roads leading to Chobham were flooded in places. “At each bridge over the Bourne stream, the water overwhelmed the roads and in places was two feet deep,” it said.  

Just below Benham’s mill, the stream rose well over its banks, flooding the meadows and upper High Street.

It was reported that on the Tuesday night “a terrible hailstorm passed over the village”.

The hail stones that fell were so large that they lay for two to three hours before melting. Plants were badly battered.   

Land adjacent to the cricket ground turned into a lake, and “crops suffered considerably as the hail stones broke off many leaves of cabbages, while other small vegetables such as radishes were washed right out of the ground”.  

There was also flooding in May 1903, followed by a cold blast of frost leading to blight, and much fruit had been destroyed. 

For days the road to Mimbridge was impassable to anything other than vehicular traffic, causing a great deal of inconvenience.

Tis an ill-wind, that blows nobody good, the News & Mail quoted, writing that an enterprising individual was busy with a horse and cart carrying pedestrians and cyclists over the flooded road.

Elsewhere, at Newark Road in Pyrford, where it is crossed by a stream, there was between four to five feet of water.

The report noted: “One man got his feet wet when passing through. His horse accidentally was taken off its feet in the middle of the road. “For several days afterwards, it was impossible to use the footbridge at the side of the road.”

June flooding also occurred in Chobham in 1853 and 1879.  

Flooding in Chobham continues. People still recall the floods of September 1968 and the serious summer floods in 2006 and 2007.

And to complement the postcard view of the floods in 1903, a photo taken 90 years later by Mark’s now late father Peter Coxhead, shows that nothing has changed very much.

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: [email protected]