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Prince Charles & The Uckfield Floods

January 16, 2017

By Paul Homewood




We await with gleeful anticipation what dreadful nonsense Prince Charles will include in his new book for the Ladybird series.

But if the front cover is the best example of the perils of climate change he can come up with, he might as well not have wasted his time!



The cover represents the Uckfield floods in October 2000, hardly a recent event.

The Geographical Association have published a detailed Case Study of the floods, which relates how the town has suffered from regular floods in the past, with the first recorded in 1852. More recent floods have occurred approximately every nine years: in 1962, 1974, 1989, 1994, 2000 and 2007,


The Case Study notes how the hydrology of the town exacerbates potential flooding problems:


Downstream (west) of the High Street, the Bellbrook Industrial Estate and the Bell Walk shopping area were built within the floodplain, as far downstream as the A22 Uckfield bypass. This commercial development has largely blocked the natural floodplain, leaving only a relatively small river channel through the town.



The flooding in October 2000 was influenced by the channel morphology of the River Uck. The channel of the River Uck changes in size and shape as it passes through Uckfield. As it flows into the town the river passes through a historic mill, flows under the town centre railway bridge and then under the High Street road bridge.

Upstream of Uckfield

  • Upstream of the town, when the river channel capacity approaching the Mill is exceeded, the river flows onto the floodplain on the right bank through a bridge under the railway. This overland flow rejoins the main river channel at the railway station and the whole flow of the river passes under the High Street Bridge.

High Street area

  • The flood plain ends abruptly behind the High Street shops. If there is too much water on the flood plain, when flow through the town reaches about 48m3/s, some water starts to flow down a passageway alongside the supermarket into the High Street.
  • If the water flow continues to increase, the road drainage can no longer cope. Water then starts to pond up in the High Street and when the flow reaches about 55 m3/s it starts to flood the shops on either side.
  • During a major flood, only a limited amount of water can flow under the High Street Bridge. The remainder flows across the High Street and down roads and passageways before eventually returning to the river.

© Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. Environment Agency. 100026380 (2007)


The floods occurred after 150mm of rain fell overnight, following four days of heavy rain.

According to the Case Study:


However it is very difficult to estimate reliably the large floods that occur on average once in 100 or 200 years. Newspapers and other reports of flooding over the last 150 years have been used to try and compare the 2000 flood with other large floods since 1852.
This evidence suggests that the flood of 2000 might be expected on average once in around every 200 years, or put another way about a 0.5% chance of occurring in any year.



But what we need to bear in mind is that Uckfield is only one small part of the country. The odds are that somewhere in Britain will see a 200 year event once in a while.

For instance, according to the Met Office, the record for 24-hour rainfall is still 279mm recorded at Martinstown, Dorset in 1955, well above Uckfield’s rainfall.

Other short term records set  in southern England are comparable, such as Maidenhead (1901), and Hampstead (1975).




But perhaps the most direct comparison we have are the September 1968 floods, which hit Surrey particularly badly, but also large parts of the Home Counties as well.

Leading meteorologist, Philip Eden, describes the event as probably the most severe inland flood to hit the Home Counties in the last 100 years .

He continues:

Things were worst on the Monday and Tuesday by which time water covered roughly 280 sq km of land – that is the equivalent of one-sixth of the area of Surrey – and some 25 thousand homes were flooded.

Indeed, Surrey suffered more than any other county. In Esher alone roughly eight thousand houses, roughly one-third of the urban district’s housing stock, had water damage, and a further four thousand properties were similarly affected in the adjacent towns of Walton and Weybridge, Chertsey and Addlestone, and Woking. In Guildford, town-centre shops were flooded to depth of 2.5 metres.

Several road and rail bridges were badly damaged; six of these suffered major collapse and subsequently had to be completely rebuilt. Most of the main roads taking traffic south and west from London were blocked for at least 24 hours (some of them for three days). Farmers suffered considerable losses too, especially those with root crops, although the cereal harvest had been completed by the end of August.

The floods were the result of a prolonged downpour which lasted for the best part of two days. This in turn was caused by a vigorous depression which had become stationary over France; two contrasting air-masses – a very warm and very moist one which had originated over the western Mediterranean, and a cool moist one from the Baltic Sea – converged over southeast England, and the line of convergence moved very little during that astonishingly wet weekend.

This weather pattern bore some similarity to the one which prevailed across Essex, London, Surrey and Hampshire last week (on Tuesday 15th) although this year’s event was at least two orders of magnitude less severe than the 1968 event.

Then, a broad belt extending from the New Forest to the Thames Estuary received over 75mm of rain. That is the equivalent of six weeks’ worth of rain in less than 48 hours. Some 75mm also fell in a much narrower belt along the line of the Chiltern Hills from south Buckinghamshire across Hertfordshire to west Suffolk. A sizeable are covering much of Surrey, west Kent, southeast London and south Essex was deluged with more than 150mm of rain, and two rainfall-recording sites in Essex – Tilbury and Stifford – received slightly more than 200mm, which is more than they had had during the whole of the summer quarter.


Note that the rainfall totals were comparable with Uckfield’s, though over two days, but also a much wider area.

Floods have occurred since time immemorial, and there is very little evidence that they are becoming worse.

Perhaps if Charles had asked bothered to ask proper experts like Philip Eden, rather than an environmentalist or a dishonest junk scientist, he might have avoided making a fool of himself.

  1. Nigel S permalink
    January 16, 2017 7:25 pm

    Harlequin Ladybird book perhaps …

    (One of my favourite headlines!)

  2. The Old Bloke permalink
    January 16, 2017 7:28 pm

    Don’t forget, “Follow the money” Price Charles has done very well out of “Climate Change”, in fact the Royal Household has. Now, he can expect some nice royalties from this book. Nice little earner don’t you think, this Climate Change thing:–owns-seabed.html

    • martinbrumby permalink
      January 16, 2017 8:12 pm

      Don’t forget the cash he trousers from wind farms on his estates.
      And that every off shore wind farm feeds any power generated across the zone all around the UK coast owned by The Crown Estates. Any work in that zone requires a permit (=£££)
      And if the work involves laying a cable transmitting power, there is also Royalty payments in perpetuity (=££££££).
      Make no mistake, he will be making hundreds of millions from plunging the plebs into fuel poverty.

    • January 16, 2017 10:04 pm

      Typical piece of DailyMailery! Let’s get a fact or two, shall we?

      From Wikipedia ( and in this case a reliable source of information: “The revenues from these hereditary possessions have been placed by the monarch at the disposition of Her Majesty’s Government and thus proceed directly to Her Majesty’s Treasury for the benefit of the British nation”.)

      So it only takes an honest journalist about 30 seconds to establish that HMQ gets no benefit from off-shore wind farms and it has always puzzled me that anyone shoud tell such stupid and easily disproved lies. It is a long, long time since any monarch benefited from the Crown Estate revenues. At least directly and in a private capacity.

      Certainly HRH gains to the extent that the Duchy of Cornwall gains but not otherwise. For the last 20 years he has paid tax on Duchy income except to the extent that income is then used for legitimate business purposes (which makes him no different from any other landowner).

      I can think of a dozen ways of venting my spleen against Chuckles (who in my own personal view has the makings of a very bad king indeed unless his advisors tie him down and gag him!) or even against his mum if that is your bag. Factual inaccuracy and terminological inexactitudes are simply counter-productive.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 16, 2017 11:29 pm

        “So it only takes an honest journalist about 30 seconds…”

        Honest journalists and the Daily Mail?

        Some hopes!

      • January 16, 2017 11:47 pm

        Well David Rose is not dishonest

  3. Joe Public permalink
    January 16, 2017 7:31 pm

    The Uckfield Thunderdolt?

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      January 16, 2017 7:44 pm

      😀 😀

  4. Peter S permalink
    January 16, 2017 7:53 pm

    Everybody for miles around knows what the problems in Uckfield are in respect of flooding. Brian is a fool and this only confirms it.

  5. Graeme No.3 permalink
    January 16, 2017 7:56 pm

    There is a series of spoof books Five go Gluten Free, Five give up the booze, Five on Brexit Island etc. Wouldn’t this belong in that lot.
    Oh, I see they are published by Quercus not Ladybird.

  6. Tom Dowter permalink
    January 16, 2017 8:03 pm

    Except in those fields from which their fame derived, we should never attach more weight to the views of the famous than we do to those of ordinary people.

  7. January 16, 2017 8:59 pm

    I see Charles is mentioned as an author on Amazon now.
    I could have sworn that he wasn’t when I last looked.

    • January 17, 2017 1:51 pm

      You mean like this – he became the lead author last week!

      • January 17, 2017 6:37 pm

        Amazon changed within the last couple of days.
        They must have decided that his name would sell more books.
        But what qualifies him to write on the subject.
        Now, if the book was about the inside workings of the Royal Family.

  8. Ross King permalink
    January 16, 2017 9:51 pm

    The elevation of Uckfield is 39 m., just in case we are at cross-purposes here, and Loopy-Charly wants us to believe that that’s sea-water on the front cover! (Wouldn’t surprise me!)

    • CheshireRed permalink
      January 16, 2017 10:53 pm

      Google is showing 19 meters.

      Elevation (m)‎: ‎19 m
      Latitude‎: ‎50.967941
      Elevation (f)‎: ‎62 feet
      Longitude‎: ‎0.085831

      Whether 39 or 19 meters they both checkmate ol’ Charlie boy and his merry band of climate liars right there. Lol, sorry Charles, Sir. Beware any imminent invitation to the Tower, Ross. 🙂

      • Shale Watcher permalink
        January 16, 2017 11:27 pm

        Actually the picture’s not a bad representation of the level of the water on the night, I live near there. For a couple of hours the level was about 6ft up the wall of the shops. The important point is that there have always been floods in Uckfield at least as far back as the 18th century which is why there is so little residential development near the river. The floods are possibly worse now because a road bridge and a Victorian mill constrict the natural flow through the town and a raised railway trackbed along the valley prevents outflow higher up. In other words the modern human activity which for PC seemingly causes disruption of the ecosystem and flooding are, in this case, railways, motoring and corn milling ! Let’s get rid of those modern abominations !

  9. Raiders of Noah's Ark permalink
    January 16, 2017 10:21 pm

    One is merely doing what one can to draw attention to these things.

  10. Annie permalink
    January 16, 2017 11:33 pm

    A Ladybird Expert Book. ‘Expert’…indeed! I can’t help the sarcasm.

    • Annie permalink
      January 16, 2017 11:38 pm

      A Ladybird Propaganda Book, more like.

      • manicbeancounter permalink
        January 17, 2017 12:19 am

        But don’t you know that belief in climate change is the only qualification needed to be a climate expert. Therefore, the only source Therefore to be a true expert you only have to show your own dogmatic opinions are in accordance with established consensus belief. You can then cherry-pick whatever real world examples that you please. With variations in weather (especially in a variable climate like in the UK) and plenty of possible records to choose from (like Cricket, but more so), you do not have to wait long before another comes along.
        The real technique is to first attack opponents as headless chickens; or refer to others opinions of these blinkered beings, before slipping in the unusual cherry-picked examples as though it were a trend, or academic unsupported opinions as if they were established facts. An extreme example is here, but others include Dana Nucitelli (sks & Guardian) & Bob Ward. The key is that they start with the opinion first and use isolated facts to support those opinions. To really understand climatic trends you need to look at all the data, and all the possible trends, or unusual events. The problem (for academic researchers who are in fierce competition to find something novel to publish, in order to get funding & status) is that most of the time you will draw blanks as to trends. Having to say something new all the time leads to a huge bias in interpretation of the real world.

  11. Raiders of Noah's Ark permalink
    January 17, 2017 12:32 am

    ” [Ladybird] Book has been extensively peer-reviewed by scientists, including the Royal Meteorological Society ”

    Has Phil managed to redefine what the peer reviewed literature is ?

  12. tom0mason permalink
    January 17, 2017 1:07 am

    Can not wait for them to arrive in the remainders bucket.
    They’ll make good fuel for the wood-burner.

    • Robert permalink
      January 17, 2017 8:52 am

      They are made from dephlogistonated paper and don’t burn.

      • tom0mason permalink
        January 17, 2017 1:20 pm

        🙂 🙂

  13. January 17, 2017 11:04 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    Evidence that it’s not wise to build on floodplains…then or now.

  14. dennisambler permalink
    January 17, 2017 11:21 am

    “put another way about a 0.5% chance of occurring in any year.”

    Which is the way it should always be put. The use of “1 in 100 years” and similar, is taken literally by politicians and when you get two in say 20 years, then we are totally doomed.

    It’s all explained here:

    “Hydrologists don’t like to hear a term like “100-year flood” because, scientifically, it is a misinterpretation of terminology that leads to a misconception of what a 100-year flood really is.

    Instead of the term “100-year flood” a hydrologist would rather describe this extreme hydrologic event as a flood having a 100-year recurrence interval. What this means is described in detail below, but a short explanation is that, according to historical data about rainfall and stream stage, the probability of Soandso River reaching a stage of 20 feet is once in 100 years. In other words, a flood of that magnitude has a 1 percent chance of happening in any year.

    The term “100-year flood” is used in an attempt to simplify the definition of a flood that statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year. Likewise, the term “100-year storm” is used to define a rainfall event that statistically has this same 1-percent chance of occurring. In other words, over the course of 1 million years, these events would be expected to occur 10,000 times. But, just because it rained 10 inches in one day last year doesn’t mean it can’t rain 10 inches in one day again this year.”

    Lots of very interesting information, well worth a visit.

  15. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 17, 2017 11:45 am

    If Chaz isn’t careful, Ladybird will be printing a book called ‘How to become a republic.’

  16. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 19, 2017 5:19 pm

    I taught my children to read with Ladybird. I’ll have nothing said against them!!

    • January 21, 2017 11:07 am

      I’ve left a comment or two!

      • January 21, 2017 11:23 am

        I’m not registered with the Telegraph, so I can no longer comment on these stupid articles, which involve the BBC favourites, who cannot speak the truth otherwise they would no doubt lose their large fees.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 21, 2017 11:34 pm

        “I’m not registered with the Telegraph, so I can no longer comment on these stupid articles”

        You can actually.

        It took me a while to work it out but even though the “Premium” articles are hidden if you scroll past them the comments are still available for use by non-registered readers.

        As I mostly used to go to the comments anyway as they were generally more informative than the general DT journalist’s bilge above them, that suits me very nicely.

  17. January 23, 2017 10:59 pm

    There was an interview with Tony Juniper about the book on the BBC News Channel’s “Breakfast” this morning.
    About 3 hours and 8 minutes in.
    Needless to say, he got an easy time from the interviewers.

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