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Use this window to watch video footage of the wreckage that was left after The Flooding of Spaw Brook, between Talbot Street and Holt Recreation ground, in September 1997.

The clip length is 3 minutes 41 seconds.
Culvert from under Parker Street in December 2002.

This brook runs through the centre of town, starting from near to the reservoir.

Houses on the Blackburn Road estate have been built over part of the brook, and the visibility of this brook is limited now.

It can be seen at the back of Ulveston Drive, up to the point where it meets Harwood Road. A short distance as it runs through the allotments in that area.

At its meeting point with Harwood Road once stood the Cucking Stool. This was a ducking device which was used on unruly woman in the town.

The stream disappears from here, running under the town until it reaches Parker Street. During 1926 there was much debate about the culvert that was here that the stream ran in, and weather the cost of filling in the culvert should be paid by the council or the street owners.

The water still flowing through its new location

There were two wells fed by the brook around the Spring Street area of town, one was the Billy Well, and the other Spaw Well.

The stream now resurfaces at the back of Talbot Street, between the back street and the recreation ground, it then goes through a tunnel and appears on the road to Holt Farm, before disappearing under Tottleworth Road and running down the hill to the Hyndburn River.

The brook derives it name from spa, – Spaw is the same as SPA meaning medicinal as in Boston Spa etc.

Details of the cost of providing this culvert over which the main sewer passes were submitted to the Council on the 22nd May 1952. Arising out of these, the Clerk was requested to submit a monthly statement showing expenditure incurred against the year's estimates.

Spaw Brooks new course after flooding

In the September of 1997, the Spaw brook culvert at the back of Talbot street became blocked. This caused terrible flooding to the holt street recreation ground, and in particular to one of the allotments separating the rec with the back of Talbot Street, which has the stream running through the middle of it.

This allotment became 50 foot deep with water, the course of the stream eventually running along the recreation ground at its lowest points, before sinking into the land and finding its original course.

The reason for the flooding was torrential downpours at the time, the rain was incessant, and the blocked pipe simply created a perfect dam for the stream.

Road closed!!

Unfortunately, this caused problems for Holt farm and also for one of the garage owners, as well as another allotment owner!

The allotment which caused the initial problem belonged to Philip and Kathleen Williams from Talbot Street. They wanted action taken to drain their waterlogged allotment before it claims a life. They feared children would have drowned if they fell in the water which had filled their steep-sided allotment behind Talbot Street, Rishton.

The Lancashire Evening Telegraph reported it with the Headline - "Dream garden vanishes in danger flood" and continued - "A FAMILY'S dream garden has disappeared under a sea of flood water".

The brooks new course

The couple could only watch as flood water washed away 10 years of hard work and hundreds of pounds worth of plants and gardening equipment. Fences were ripped down, plants uprooted, a mower ruined, garden tools lost and the shed left almost submerged when the waters rose during recent downpours.

Shop assistant Mrs Williams, said at the time: "It is dangerous and something needs to be done soon. If any child went in they would never get out again. All my husband's hard work over 10 years has been ruined. He is heartbroken and it is getting him down. The allotment first flooded earlier this year, but the levels dropped. However, it has hardly fallen this time. It is the worst we have seen it."

Farm Track gone

Before the flood, lorry driver Mr Williams had created a picturesque haven for his family with a pond, stream, crazy paving patio, barbecue area and hundreds of plants. The couple's 28-year-old mentally handicapped son Richard helped out with the garden as part of his therapy.

But everything was lying under water after blocked drainage channels caused the flooding. Rubbish dumped down the allotment side was swept down by the stream and heavy rainwater to block the drainage culvert.

Several residents with garages backing on to the side of the allotment moved their cars because they feared the water would have caused their foundations to crumble.

A petition was in the pipeline (sic) from local residents to get the allotment's owner, the Dunkenhalgh estate, to put an end to the problem once and for all.

Looking from Tottleworth Road

Mrs Helen Kay, of Talbot Street, said that it was dangerous. If a child had got in they would have been drowned. They (the neighbourhood) were all really concerned about it. Mrs. Kay had lived on Talbot Street for 31 years at the time, and she had never seen anything like this before.

Mrs Maria Gelemej, of Talbot Street, said: "It was such a beautiful garden, but has been ruined."

The land agent for the allotment, Padiham-based Ingham and Yorke, had tried to take measures to drain the allotment. However, a spokesman said at the time, that on the day workmen started, heavy rain caused the allotment to flood and it became too dangerous to continue. He said work began again once levels had dropped to a reasonable level.

Rebuilding the hillside


Rishton Street Names by E. Furber. Published October 1995.

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 31 December 1997.