Flooding has caused chaos throughout the area in recent days but the consequences cannot be compared with what unfolded on a November evening 177 years ago.

In 1815, the Beith's Dam behind the Whinhill, which had been constructed to power a cotton mill, burst its banking. Little damage was done but the dam fell into disuse.

The mill was later purchased by two gentlemen named Beith and Maitland. It was by then a grain and flour operation.

Despite objections from locals, the dam was rebuilt and enlarged.

It had been wet in the November of 1835 but the rainfall became substantial on Saturday, the 21st. Residents stayed in their homes and tried to get to sleep.

Around midnight people in the area of Cartsburn Street and Stanners Street heard a deep rumbling which got louder until becoming a crashing roar.

Water hurtled down the narrow streets and smashed in the doors of houses. Residents thought it was a tidal wave and tried to gain the safety of higher ground. Tragically, they were going the wrong way as the torrents and vast amounts of mud were coming from Beith's Dam which had burst its banks once again.

The disaster caused 37 deaths.

Whole families were wiped out and in Stanners Street there was hardly a home without a casualty.

Those safe in upper levels of properties smashed floors with axes to rescue those trapped below.

A family of six had time only to clamber on to the kitchen table when the flood smashed into their home. Despite their weight, it was enough to save them. The table floated, although by the time the flood reached its height they were reduced to lying flat on their backs with their faces two inches from the ceiling.

One man swept away in the flood grabbed hold of something substantial. When the waters subsided he found himself swinging from the top of a lamp-post.

Why did the Beith Dam's banks burst again?

When it was being rebuilt, advice was sought from the engineer Robert Thom who said it should have an inner hard core, sufficiently high and thick to withstand an emergency.

It transpired his guidance was not fully acted upon, and it was believed the burrowing of rats and moles weakened the embankment to the extent that it collapsed when torrential rain fell on that fateful Saturday 177 years ago this month.