“It was a beautiful day…”

We’re two months on from the post-Christmas flood, and in 3 weeks time (20th March) the Multi-Story Water team will be hosting a special event called After the Flood at Kirkgate Centre, Shipley… a community conversation to discuss what happened on Boxing Day and what has happened since in terms of the very positive public response. Official details are in the previous post to this one… But this blog reflects a little on the theme of after the flood, by presenting some images taken on the day after Boxing Day — December 27th….

IMG_4531The pictures here were all taken by Martin Spiers, who lives on Bowland Avenue – on the Higher Coach Road estate – and are shared with his permission. The shot above shows the riverside trees along that stretch, suddenly standing in the middle of a much wider river. And the shot below looks back to the row of houses where Martin lives…

IMG_4492As in the shot of the trees, the blue sky, sunshine and reflections in the now-calm water make for quite a beautiful picture. Discussions about the flood have – quite rightly, focused on the miserable conditions in the days and weeks leading up to it – but it is worth remembering, too, that on December 27th the weather was stunning. I’m reminded of a lyric in U2’s song “Beautiful Day” (with its glancing reference to the story of Noah’s Ark): “See the bird with the leaf in her mouth / After the flood, all the colours came out…”


(This shot is the reverse view to the one above, looking east towards Saltaire….)

Let’s not underestimate just how much difficulty the flood caused for some. But it is worth remembering, too, how “the colours came out” — not just literally but metaphorically, as local people showed their best colours, and voluntary flood support groups spontaneously organised themselves through social media, both in Shipley/Baildon and just upstream in Bingley…


This was the view downstream in Saltaire, looking out over the Roberts Park cricket pitch. Rather wonderfully, there was even a strategically placed sign, stating the obvious… But I choose to read this is as further evidence of that general urge people had to help and inform each other…


Below is another, oddly romantic view across the cricket pitch, this time taken from the other side of the river, looking over towards Half Moon Cafe (which the day before had been several feet under).




Further along on the south side of the river, heading back west, the Salts Sports cricket pitch was also still under water on December 27th…


… But notice the debris that had collected on the railings to the right of the picture above… Martin also snapped the fantastic picture below, of one particular railing where the an almost human figure seems to have been created by the flood. Let’s call it Denis… (the Water-man)

IMG_4543Maybe the flood has made us all water-people. If you believe the scientific predictions for climate change, this kind of thing is going to happen more frequently in future. The question is how we respond… And in many ways the public response since the flood has been amazing — in the way people have volunteered not just to help the people worst affected by the flooding, but to pitched in with clean-ups of the debris left by the water. Can this kind of energy and enthusiasm be sustained in positive ways into the future?

“It was a beautiful day… Don’t let it get away…”




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