6ft-deep pothole and flooded cellars after heavy summer rain 60 years ago

Potholes have long plagued motorists across the area – and it looks like the problems were no better 60 years ago.

In Southwick a 6ft-deep hole formed in the middle of the road on the west side of The Green in February 1959.

The Shoreham Herald of Friday, February 27, 1959, reported underground springs which run beneath Underdown Road and The Green in Southwick had caused the subsidence in the roadway.

Southwick Urban Council workman Bill Sayers trying to find the cause of the 6ft-deep subsidence in The Green

Workmen who examined the hole found an old brick culvert, which suggested the springs had long been a problem.

Southwick Council surveyor Mr E.A. Coates was ‘flooded with complaints from residents’ about the hole and flooding across the area.

Mr Coates said: “It is obvious that with the action of the water the fine sand has been washed away, leaving a weakness in the ground under the road and causing a subsidence.

“The history of the stream, as far as I know, goes back to the Dark Ages. This spring used to run on the surface of the middle of The Green until, I believe, it was covered in about 60 years ago.

Workmen trying to find the cause of the subsidence in The Green, Southwick

“There seems to be a history of this sort of thing happening every time there is an exceptionally wet summer.”

The Herald also said heavy rains in the summer of 1958 had caused the underground springs to swell, and the increased volume of water flooded cellars and basements in early 1959.

Mr J. Hampsey, proprietor of the Underdown Stores at the end of Underdown Road, found 4ft of water in his cellar one morning.

He told the Herald: “I installed a pump, but as soon as the pump had cleared the cellar and stopped working, the water just went up to the old level again. But it never exceeded four feet.

The page from the Shoreham Herald of February 27, 1959

“I found the best solution was to get the water piped away round the bottom of the Rest Garden and I got a local firm of builders to do this. You can still see some of the water coming through, but it is not nearly as bad now.”

The Herald reported many other people whose houses fronted onto The Green on the west side had found the spring water invading their cellars.

In one house the occupier fell into 2ft of water in his cellar while examining the flooding.


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