Back in the early 60s when I was a lad, the amount of rain we’ve had today would very likely have been enough to overflow the banks of the River Ogmore at Newbridge Fields. Back then, that was a regular occurrence and could be relied upon as a temporary source of entertainment for us boys at least once a year. It was easy to see when this was happening as our house overlooked the fields and in those days the trees were not so dense so you could keep an eye on the river levels.
The river rarely rose high enough to flood the town, the flood plain that was Newbridge Fields helped to absorb the excess water coming down from the valleys above the town. One of course, remembers the disastrous flood of 1960 which is well documented and was the last time severe damage was caused to the town centre, although a few minor occasions since then in the 1960s and 70s has seen a number of riverside properties partially flooded.
Flooding in the town is now a thing of the past, the flood defences constructed in the 1980s has ensured Bridgend is now safe from all excessive river levels, even Newbridge Fields which was once the safety valve for the town is now well protected and it takes a huge volume of water these days to overflow the strengthened riverbank. The last time I saw flooding here was on 5th September 2008 and my photo shows a few lads larking about in the flood waters on the rugby pitch near the cricket field.
When I was a kid it was great fun to go down the fields after it had flooded and paddle about in the water. One could cross the white bridge once the river had subsided a little and wade over to the band stand which would be like an island in the middle of a sea and there we would play out all sorts of daft boyhood fantasies, taking great care not to allow water into our wellingtons which would give the game away as to where we had been playing as we were not allowed near the river when it was in flood; and who can blame our parents, it was downright dangerous there when the river was in spate.
I’d like to tell you that the picture above is a photo of me paddling in the flood water but that would be a deception. I am grateful to Philip Howard on flickr who has given me permission to use pictures from his vast collection of photographs of childhood. There you can see the original of this image which I have cropped to make suitable for the sentiments of this tale.