Statement of Witnesses
STATEMENT OF PETER WEBSTER
Peter Webster said that, having heard that the reservoir
was in an unsafe state, he went to look at it about half past
ten on Wednesday. He saw a large hole which had been washed
in the inner embankment, about three yards from the top.
The wind was blowing hard at the time; and fearing that the
embankment would break, he gave a warning to that effect to
the inhabitants at Digley Mill, and, owing to his foresight,
not a single life was lost in this place.
From what he saw at the reservoir, he could not rest until
he had visited it again, and went up accordingly after midnight.
While thus proceeding on his journey he met a man, who, in
breathless haste, exclaimed, “Peter, it’s coming ! Run Back
Webster immediately returned, and soon after the whole valley
was inundated. He described the rolling of the tumbling waves
down the valley as being awfully grand.
His house was swept away, but his wife and children escaped
with their clothes on their backs, being the only things they
saved, excepting half a loaf of bread and an old crust of
They formed a pitiable group when we saw them in the upper
room of a small warehouse built higher up the hill side on
the left hand side, and which, fortunately, escaped the wreckage.
STATEMENT OF JAMES ARMITAGE
James Armitage, the miller, said that having been warned
by Webster, he took the precaution to move his family, but
every vestige of his property had been swept away.
He said he stood on an elevated position upon some steps,
and saw the first approach of the waters. According to his
own vivid but homely description, the mill, weaving shed,
and dyehouse went “Crash, Crash, Crash” and in ten minutes
or less the whole of the extensive premises were gone.
He relates a most wonderful escape of a young man named
James Wood, who had been confined to his bed by an attack
Fearing that flood would come, Armitage, along with three
other men, wrapped the sickly man in blankets, and conveyed
him out of the house to a neighbours house high on the hill
side; they had just got him out of the house when the torrent
swept past. One minute later, and the whole five men would
It is providential that this awful calamity occurred during
the night: had it occurred a few hours later, the whole of
the hands employed at these works would have been on the premises,
and the probable loss of life under these circumstances makes
the blood run chill to contemplate. This remark also will
apply to the other mills partially or wholly destroyed by
the rapid descent of this terrible flood.