“And it’s the only thing we’ve had here where everybody’s been absolutely silent. It was incredible.”   Leave a comment

This is how a retired lady from Westgate, Gloucester, remembers a recent presentation she put on in her residential home, with a collection of her photographs of flooding in the area. Despite not being flooded herself, she deems flooding an integral aspect of life in Gloucester.

Well, I mean, everybody knows Gloucester floods. […] If you live by the river you accept it.

She had taken pictures during a flood in October 2006, and many more in July 2007, which she found worthwhile sharing with her neighbours.

I said to them a little while ago, I had lots of pictures and would anybody be interested, and they said yes. And of course this is a building where people retire, so we have lots of people moving in and out. We have had lots of newcomers who wouldn’t have a clue, so of course they were very keen to come and have a look, and they were astonished.

This is one of her images of the 2007 flood, taken from her window. It is taken directly from her slide show, including the caption she wrote.

Although the 2007 floods were bigger than previous floods she experienced there, she did not find them particularly unique.

because it happened in October 2006. Well we are the [lower] end of the city. And if then the water not getting into the river, there’s obviously going to be a delay while it does, so just accept it.

Whereas generally, discussions of the floods focus on 2007 as a one-off event, her presentation put it into a historical context. The first series of images showed a minor flood from the previous year, some of which are shown below.

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When asked about the merits of maintaining memories, she remarked:

I think memories about everything are so essential. And recording things is essential which is why I am so involved in historical things. […] For future generations to know. They should know, shouldn’t they? (Laughs).

Visual material, like pictures and newspaper clippings, provide a crucial stimulant for memories, she maintains. When asked about specific details of the 2007 floods, she refers to her presentation and other images that she collected.

Well again if you look on the DVD, you will see we got rid of it off the quay quite quickly, but the river was still high […]. And again you will see on the slides that we had water running from this corner down to the garage. The dates are the some of the photographs. You work it out for yourself and judge by the newspaper cuttings. We did have flooding out in front of the street, but that didn’t last very long, that went I think just because the drains weren’t taking it, I think.

What this lady’s account makes clear is that

(1) there are flood plain residents who are keen to maintain and develop flood memories, even if they have not personally been flooded; and

(2) photographs provide important support for memories, and means of sharing and developing social memory.


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