The onset of rainy weather is still a common occurrence in Kendal. It began raining on Tuesday night, November 2, 1898 and soon became torrential.

The usual flooding expected and the customary precautions were taken by those living near the river.

However, the downpour quickly resulted in the worst flood in living memory. The stone slab on Waterside records the flood levels over the centuries with 1898 far above all the others.

The Gazette reported that ‘the River Kent became a turgid flood, spreading out far and wide beyond its banks, inundating thousands of acres of land and a large area of low-lying parts of Kendal, including whole streets, hundreds of houses, shops, factories schools and other buildings.’

At the Sand Area of Stramongate, the water became 5’6” deep and the street was under water from the bridge to the bottom of Blackhall Yard.

The floor and joists of the Sand Area Chapel were lifted and swollen by water, the damage estimated at £80.

Wildman and Ann Streets were totally submerged. The water reached the top of the arches of the bridges and both the Gooseholme and Jennings’ Yard footbridges were torn down. At Benson Green the water rose as high as eight feet. Mr Westwood, whose house faced Victoria Bridge left, for work after breakfast. Returning two hours later he was unable to get back in. The wall on the river side had been destroyed.

Eventually, he watched the water rising until it reached the door knob and in the lower rooms the furniture, including a piano and a heavy harmonium, were floating about.

As in other affected parts attempts were made to rescue stranded people.

The path from Victoria Bridge to Dockwray Hall Mills was badly affected. There was a massive hole several feet deep and lengths of the path were torn up.

Rails embedded in massive blocks of stone were thrown into the river and carried along by the strength of the water.

Railings were lifted and wound round a lamp post, which was bent and twisted.

Barbed wire was fastened so tightly around it that it could only be removed using a hammer and chisel.

By 11 o’clock the flood was so affecting the Castle Street girls and infants schools that parents waded through deep water to take their children in their arms to safety.

Built on a platform, the nearby St.George’s Church escaped damage, the water only getting into the hydraulic chamber!

During the morning of Wednesday spectators congregated in the rain to view the spectacle of people boating and even swans swimming in Stramongate.

When the rain stopped people came out to view the spectacle. Children were excited by the damage and had fun splashing in the water.

There was even a humorous side. A floating hen coop was seen sailing down the river under Victoria Bridge, on which were several rats looking very surprised.

The coop struck the bridge and the rats perished.

When the rain stopped the floods gradually subsided but it was some time before the extent of the damage was ascertained and repairs begun.