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Anyone who was caught up in the severe flooding at Skinningrove in July and November 2000 will remember how shocking and devastating these events were. On both occasions continual heavy rainfall led to Kilton and Whitecliff Becks feeding huge volumes of water into Skinningrove Beck, bringing trees and other debris downstream. The debris got stuck at the bridge near The Square, resulting in water being held back and then flooding more than 100 homes and community buildings. Residents were evacuated, some of them for a long time, while the clean-up took place and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council later built flood defences along the beck. The council also installed floodgates on the bridge, which the Environment Agency now maintain and have improved. The gates can be closed when flooding is likely and the village has voluntary ‘river wardens’ who are the eyes and ears on the ground.

These events of twelve years ago are now commemorated by a wonderful ceramic that spreads along the wall at the front of Riverside Building in New Company Row in the village. Artist Glynis Johnson created the design with help from pupils of Whitecliffe Primary School and members of the local community who provided photographic and other memories of those days that changed the village. Councillor Barry Hunt, who in 2000 had liaised between the council’s Adverse Weather Team and the local community, was responsible for the development of the project, funding for which he secured from Coast & Country Housing, Groundwork North East and the Community Fund. In September 2012 the storywall was formally unveiled by The Worshipful the Mayor of Redcar & Cleveland, Councillor Denise Bunn who paid tribute to everyone who helped to make it possible and said that it provides an enduring reminder of the effects of extreme weather that seems to be happening increasingly around the world.

Councillor Hunt said “I wanted to ensure that this isn’t just a lovely piece of artwork but a blend of images and words providing a narrative that is both educational and pleasing to the eye”. It now stands proudly for all to appreciate alongside the ceramic of the Skinningrove Merman, which is another story altogether.