Keeping a sense of humour when the streets flooded

Many interesting things happened in 1994 '“ the Channel Tunnel opened, Four Weddings and a Funeral hit the cinemas, the National Lottery was born.

And, in Chichester, the new year saw streets flood after the River Lavant burst its banks for the first time in half a century.

These pictures were all published in the Chichester Observer on Thursday, January 6, 1994 and show some hardy souls doing their best King Canute impressions as they attempted to hold back the tide of flood water threatening their businesses.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Others helped those around them – both man and beast – to negotiate the water, while some adopted an ‘if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’ attitude to the entire situation.

The great British sense of humour flourished during the Chichester floods of January 1994 ENGPPP00120140801171356

A somewhat plastic-looking ‘alligator’ was wrestled as it attempted to breach a wall of sandbags; and one wag erected a sign informing passing motorists they could purchase a fishing licence.

Geoffrey Martin was pictured carrying his dog through the flood water – not much exercise for the pooch but no doubt Mr Martin worked up a sweat!

In North End Road, near Barnham, gallant Philip Fogden hoisted Debbie Lawrence on to his shoulder as he waded through the deluge.

The river burst its banks where it crossed a disused building site, sending huge quantities of water into The Hornet and New Park Road.


And, while sandbags prove useful in many a situation, staff at some shops, cafes and pubs found themselves having to bale out.

The Observer reported the damage could have been much worse had it not been for the efforts of firefighters, who pumped water away from the river at Westhampnett, lowering it by nine inches.

This wasn’t the first time flooding had greeted the new year in Chichester. In January 1970, divers were sent into the tunnel under Market Avenue to find out what had caused that year’s flood.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.


Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at

2) Like our Facebook page at

3) Follow us on Twitter @Chiobserver


4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Chichester Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.

Divers check the tunnel under Market Avenue in Chichester to try and discover the cause of the 1970 January floods PP3080 ENGPPP00120140502111206