Torrential rainfall causes chaos in Saffron Walden

PUBLISHED: 17:50 26 June 2009 | UPDATED: 21:48 31 May 2010

Audley End House and Gardens had to be evacuated after lightning struck  Picture: CHRIS KIDMAN

Audley End House and Gardens had to be evacuated after lightning struck Picture: CHRIS KIDMAN

TORRENTIAL rainfall and electric storms caused chaos in Saffron Walden today (Friday). Audley End House and Gardens were forced to close after lightning damaged the fire alarm systems within the house, although there was no fire. A spokesman for the histo

TORRENTIAL rainfall and electric storms caused chaos in Saffron Walden today (Friday).

Audley End House and Gardens were forced to close after lightning damaged the fire alarm systems within the house, although there was no fire.

A spokesman for the historic mansion said: "Visitors were asked to evacuate the building and wait for the fire service to attend. On the recommendation of the fire service team visitors were not allowed to return to the house and grounds.

"The fire alarm system was not working and it was not safe to allow visitors into the building. The management apologised for this inconvenience and offered visitors a complete refund of their entrance fee or a voucher to use on a future visit to Audley End House."

The spokesman added that the house was re-opened on Saturday morning, as normal, and all damage to the fire alarm system has now been repaired.

Elsewhere, two cottages were flooded in Bridge Street; despite the new flood drainage system being in place, water cascaded onto the section of the B184 after drains were clogged with debris.

Chairman of Uttlesford District Council, Cllr Alastair Walters, said: "Much water had poured off the sloping fields and down an unmade pathway next to the end cottage and into the B184 where the flooding occurred in front of the cottages. No doubt water continued to flow off the fields and down this pathway for a while after the deluge had stopped.

"There was a considerable amount of small twigs, stones and leaves washed down on to the grills of the drains outside the cottages, but even so the flood water had drained away within an hour, which is far quicker than was the case before the new drainage scheme was installed."

Cllr Walters added: "The big challenge for ECC Highway engineers is how to cope with the significant amount of debris washed down in deluge conditions that blocks the grills of drains and restricting the rate at which the rainwater is dispersed

"I have no doubt at all that ECC will be treating this matter with urgency and I am in the process of arranging a site meeting with highways engineers to see what action can be taken to prevent this situation occurring again."

Elsewhere,

Elsewhere, Saffron Walden Bowls Club, in Abbey Lane, came within inches of being flooded.

Eye witness Joyce Luckings said: "The water had flooded down from the ditch and within 20 minutes, it was covered. It didn't actually hit the bowls green itself, thank goodness.

"This wouldn't have been the first time the bowls club has flooded."

In total, Essex Fire and Rescue Service received around 20 calls following the two-hour deluge, mainly affecting houses and a building in the town centre.


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