National Trust estates in Northumberland damaged by Storm Babet flooding and high winds
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Cragside, near Rothbury, and the Wallington estate, near Cambo, were both impacted by the extreme weather.
The water level on the River Coquet rose from its usual 0.4m near Cragside to over 3m, which led to the Archimedes screw that powers Cragside House’s lights being overwhelmed and temporarily offline.
The site’s historical powerhouse, which made it the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity, was also flooded.
John O’Brien, the estate’s general manager, said: “It has been years since I have seen water levels like this at Cragside.
“The lakes were exceptionally full and water was moving rapidly along Debdon Burn that passes under the Iron Bridge. With the extra rainfall, water thundered through the Gorge at a pace creating a dramatic waterfall.
“When the water met the already overflowing River Coquet, it backed up and flooded the historic hydroelectric powerhouse, partially submerging some of the original Victorian dynamos and turbines in silty water.”
Aside from the powerhouse and the Gorge, which was shaped by the Armstrong family to create a more dramatic-looking waterflow through the valley, Cragside remains open to the public.
Steve Howard, visitor operations and experience manager at Cragside, said: “Almost all of Cragside is open as normal including the house, gardens, walking routes, and Carriage Drive. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors during the school holidays.
“The powerhouse will be closed while the team carry out conservation cleaning to the dynamos and turbines.
“Usually the Gorge would close after October half term but we have made the decision to close this part of the grounds a few days early to allow the outdoor teams the time needed to clear debris and carry out safety checks. We plan to re-open the Gorge in spring 2024 as normal.”
At the Wallington estate a Met Office weather station recorded 93.9mm of rainfall on Thursday and Friday, which contributed to the River Wansbeck bursting and eroding its banks and the estate’s riverside path.
Strong winds displaced a stone ball off of a gate to the estate’s walled garden and toppled an oak tree planted around 1750, blocking garden access.