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Archives: Flood of 1992

Dramatic pictures from the school magazine of 1992!  We are all conscious of the current concerns about climate change bringing us heavy rainfall and flooding but one night almost 30 years ago brought watery chaos to the school. The Headmaster, Mr Conway, wrote a personal account of the experience.

On the evening of Sunday 31st May he had just finished writing his report to the Governors hailing the completion of the latest building works at school when the caretaker, Mr Appleby, rang him to say that he might like to get down to the school as soon as possible as there was 4 feet of water coursing through the Sports Hall!

Mr Conway battled through extremely heavy rain, flooded roads and abandoned cars to find a Chorleywood in darkness from power cuts and a situation at the school for which he was unprepared.

He found the entrance to the school was a river. “The water was flooding past the Barbirolli Hall and I could hear the sound of a waterfall. This was a gushing torrent down the Music department steps and I saw a pool of water a foot deep across the Music Room floor. My first consideration was to check the Barbirolli Hall and I was hugely relieved to find the stage and hall floor dry. At least the public exams could go ahead provided the electricity was restored”.

At the back of the school he discovered a river flowing past the PE changing rooms towards the maths block although it had not got into the building. Behind the maths block the water was pouring down the gulley into the pond and it was difficult to cross – “we felt like explorers crossing torrential rivers as we made our way round to examine whether or not the flood had entered our new buildings.” Again, there was great relief that the water had not breached them.

Further inspection of the school buildings found that the water had got into the bottom corridor through to the Art and Computer rooms and was flowing gently down the science corridor. The water was relatively shallow in the main building until the party reached the Sports Hall corridor and the student lockers situated there. “Having walked down two steps I realised that there were four more steps beneath the water and that the bottom three tiers of lockers had been flooded. The whole of the Sports Hall corridor was under some five feet of water with table tennis tables and chairs floating in the passage”. It was impossible to get in there.

With the inspection complete it was clear that the school could not open on Monday and indeed the situation had not improved much by then. “There was only four feet of water in the sports hall. We now have an indoor and outdoor swimming pool although the contaminated nature of the water made the whole area look very evil”. Despite the damage, Mr Conway saw the bright side of things. “To an ex Geographer the gully erosion and the nick point caused by the waterfall at the back of the maths block, allied to the arcuate delta of gravel spilling into our school pond made the area a physical Geographers delight and it is clear that at least one department will be able to use this tragedy to its educational advantage.”

The damage was extensive. The insurance claim, covering structural damage, damage to foundations, flooring, decoration, musical instruments, sports equipment, computer equipment, lost text books and many other items took two years to settle.