Corfe River bursts its banks causing flood chaos

A deluge of rain left roads flooded and commuters stranded across Purbeck with the worst of the delays at Corfe Castle in Dorset.

At about 3 pm on Thursday 4th January 2024 rainwater started to collect on the roads, with large puddles forming. By 4 pm, drains were blocked or overwhelmed and the Corfe River burst its banks.

Flooding in Corfe
Fiona Hewitt

East Street on the way out of Corfe Castle was passable for a while but by about 5 pm vehicles had got stuck in the flood water

Torrent of water running off fields

Vehicles heading home to Swanage were stuck in traffic from Sandford and further afield, slowly navigating the deep puddles.

With the approach road to Corfe Castle completely flooded, many turned left taking New Road to Studland but again faced a torrent of water running off the fields.

The local farmer tried to channel the running water back into the fields and away from the road and a cottage, using a tractor to cut a path through the hedgerow.

New Road flooding
J M Alcock

In an effort to avoid the Corfe River flooding, vehicles took the New Road to Studland but still faced delays

New Road flooding
J M Alcock

The local farmer tries to channel the flood water off the road and away from the cottage in the dip

Flooding on road out of Swanage
Frank Roberts

Local resident Frank Roberts was out clearing the drains in an effort to ease the flooding along the Valley Road heading out of Swanage

Cars stuck in floods at Corfe Castle

By 5 pm, Corfe Castle was effectively cut off from Wareham, with only 4x4s managing to continue along the main road into the village. Several cars tried and got stuck. Meanwhile students were stranded on buses trying to get home from school.

Some of those trying to leave Swanage, chose to head to Studland, taking the Sandbanks Ferry over to Poole and then driving back to Wareham.

In Swanage, just as pupils were leaving St Mark’s CoE Primary School and The Swanage School along the High Street, the heavens opened and students paddled their way home. The flooding continued and both school fields became swimming pools.

The Swanage School flooded

Swimming lessons for students as their field is flooded

The Swanage School flooded

The water from The Swanage School playing field headed into the car park

The Swanage School flooded

From the school car park, the water flowed out onto the aptly named Washpond Lane adjacent to the school

“School site went from a bit soggy to resembling a river!”

The Swanage School said:

“Within a 30 minute period as school was finishing for the day the school site went from a bit soggy to resembling a river! Water flowed across the field, cascaded into the car park and was a fair torrent by the time it met the exit onto Washpond Lane.”

While St Mark’s school said:

“Well, that downpour took us a little by surprise! Please take care everyone, if you are out travelling anywhere in the next day or so. Also, be aware of debris that has been moved about in the school grounds.”

Waterlogged playing fields at St Mark's School
St Mark’s school

St Mark’s CoE primary school driveway becomes a river!

Waterlogged playing fields at St Mark's School
St Mark’s school

Looking over the school playing fields to The Swanage School

Deep potholes along Shore Road

But the flooding wasn’t just confined to inland areas of Swanage, along the seafront as the water made its way towards the sea, the drains were overwhelmed and Shore Road resembled a river.

The intensity of the flooding caused part of the road surface to break up forming deep potholes.

A clear up operation is now underway to remove debris and to assess the damage to road surfaces and pavements.

A dry spell is now forecast for Swanage but the temperature is expected to drop to around 2 degrees celsius overnight by the weekend.

Shore Road flooding
Megan Coward

Shore Road by Ocean Bay in Swanage is flooded as water heading towards the sea overwhelms the drainage system

Shore Road flooding
Ian Clowes

The surface of Shore Road starts to break up due to the water damage

Shore Road flooding
Paola Danese

Debris litters Shore Road

Watch video footage

River Corfe bursts its banks – filming by

The entrance to St Mark’s CoE primary school in Swanage becomes a river

Filming of Shore Road in Swanage by Ian Clowes

Further information

  • Met Office weather forecast for Swanage

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