‘We must never forget’: Tribute to Louth flood victims

A commemorative plaque has been officially unveiled in memory of those who died in the Louth Flood of 1920, exactly one year after the centenary of the disaster.

Anita Muchall (Louth Museum), Jess Mackett (Spout Yard trustees), and Mayor of Louth, Councillor Darren Hobson

The Mayor of Louth, Councillor Darren Hobson unveiled the plaque in memory of the 23 people – including six children – who were tragically killed in the flooding on May 29, 1920, which also destroyed dozens of homes and left 800 people homeless.

On the anniversary of the flooding (Saturday May 29) Councillor Hobson unveiled the plaque in Spout Yard, which was a site of great destruction and several deaths in the flood.

He was joined by Anita Muchall (chair of volunteers at Louth Museum) and Jess Mackett (chair of Spout Yard trustees).

The commemorative plaque in Spout Yard Park.

Councillor Hobson also planted a rosemary bush – traditionally associated with remembrance and a tribute to loved ones – next to the plaque,

The unveiling of the plaque had, of course, originally been due to take place on the 100th anniversary of the flood in May 2020, but due to the coronavirus pandemic this was postponed.

Anita Muchall told the Leader: “Richard Grimes, who at that time [last Spring] worked as a volunteer for both Louth Museum and Spout Yard, offered to raise money through crowdfunding to buy a plaque remembering both those who lost their lives and the 800 people who had lost all their belongings and homes. These unfortunate people were accommodated under canvas off High Holme Road from June until October. No hotels or B&Bs in those days!

“Jess Mackett from Spout Yard spoke briefly [on Saturday] about the destruction around what is now Spout Yard Park. The mayor planted the rosemary bush and said a few words himself.

“The fact that rosemary was chosen to be planted has a long history. It has been associated with remembrance and death since ancient Roman times, when the herb was used in burial rites.

“Later, there are several accounts of funerals in England where mourners traditionally threw bouquets of rosemary onto coffins.

“Rosemary in this respect is probably best associated with Shakespeare’s Hamlet Act 4 Scene 5.

“Ophelia in her madness names plants that were known for their capacity to ease pain, particularly inwardly felt pain: ‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember’.”

Speaking to the Leader after the event on Saturday, Councillor Hobson said: “The unveiling of the memorial plaque, whilst delayed due to the pandemic, is another opportunity for us to take time to reflect on the remarkable circumstances of 
that fateful day 101 years ago.

“We must never forget the events of that day and the commemorative plaque serves as a lasting and poignant reminder of those from our community that were lost in 1920 and the resilience of those affected through losing their homes, as well as being a testament to the hard work and dedication of those involved in bringing the memorial to fruition.”

• Louth Museum currently has a new exhibition: ‘250 Years of Louth Canal’ by Stuart Sizer. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday, between 10am and 4pm. For further information, visit www.louthmuseum.org.uk.