ON THURSDAY, August 2 in 1883, a severe flood hit Alva, causing widespread damage to the town and its glen which had only been opened a few years earlier.

The weather had been warm, but the heat became so oppressive that morning, weather forecasters predicted sudden and violent thunderstorms would hit the area. Early in the afternoon, huge flashes of lightning and peels of thunder roared over the village, but little rain fell. It was not until 4 o’clock that the skies turned dark, and a long and persistent downpour began without warning, lasting for two hours.

Due to the heavy rain, the road up the glen was damaged in numerous places and a bridge over a deep part of the Alva Burn was washed away in the torrent.

One of the public wells in the town and two lampposts were swept away along with the middle bridge, of which nothing was left. The debris from these clogged up the burn so it overflowed, causing the water to flow across the upper part of Green Square, wrecking several houses. The inhabitants lost among other things furniture, clothing, and books, and with their gardens swamped, any fruit or vegetables they had been growing were destroyed. With the water reaching four feet deep, nearby piggeries had to have the animals moved to safety.

George Perry’s bakery had its wall broken and the rushing water swept away some of his property, including several bags of flour which ended up floating in the street. He estimated the damage at £250.

The water also caused damage to Messers Spowart the bootmakers, the shop of book seller Mr Drysdale, and Mr Muir’s china shop.

After just 15 minutes, the torrent flowed along Stirling Street, destroying pavements as it carried along goods from homes and businesses. People who had crossed the road just three minutes beforehand, almost had to swim to cross back over to their homes.

It did considerable damage to Charles Thomson’s factory, with the water rising to 3 feet in the weaving and wefting department. Damage was also done to John Henderson & Sons where one of the floors was built over the top of the burn and it rose to such a height, it forced the floor up.

At the Burnside, the road was badly damaged by boulders and huge pieces of rock being tossed about, and it was also strewn with other detritus, making it almost impassable.

Soon the storm abated, and the following day the clean-up operation began.