Curious tale of three pigs who went wee wee wee, all the way home

PUBLISHED: 06:55 19 July 2018

Michael and Hazel Hammett

Michael and Hazel Hammett

Archant

Talk of the great floods of 50 years ago has revived a curious tale of three pigs who got swept away by the surge.

Wedding DayWedding Day

The pigs in question belonged to Michael and Hazel Hallett, who at the time were newly weds, and today are still farming at Lower Sweetcombe near Sidbury.

The pigs were foraging down by the River Sid when the heavens opened and the worst rain in living memory caused floodwaters to sweep through the valley.

Michael said: “It was thunder, lightning and rain and water was gushing everywhere. It was totally frightening.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before, never anything like it since.”

The old piggery is now an upmarket holiday letThe old piggery is now an upmarket holiday let

Hazel had her own narrow escape. She was alone in the farm cottage with their daughter Jackie, just a few weeks old, when water, silt and stones thundered down the hillside and smashed through the kitchen window, flooding the room.

“It was frightening. I didn’t stay to look. I just grabbed Jackie in the pram and went into the dining room which was a bit higher up and hoped for the best,” she said.

Later that evening Michael went to check on the pigs at their field down near the main village only to find they were gone.

He added: “They had just disappeared.

The cottage at Lower Sweetcombe that was floodedThe cottage at Lower Sweetcombe that was flooded

“They must have been washed down in the floodwater.

“I thought that was the end of them.”

But the next day when he returned and looked in the shed, where they were kept, he got the surprise of his life.

Michael said: “The three pigs had come all the way home, their pig adventure over.

Michael and Hazel HammettMichael and Hazel Hammett

“They were all lying down fast asleep. They’d found their way back. We were just elated. We couldn’t believe it.

“How far down they went, we haven’t got a clue.

“They must have got out onto land, waited until the water went down and then made their way back.”

It was a lighter moment in what was a devastating chapter for the area with homes flooded, bridges washed away and one woman losing her life in Sidbury.

Wedding DayWedding Day

The day of the flood July 10, 1968 is etched in folk memory and was featured in an exhibition of photos at Kennaway House last week, reviving great local interest.

As for the old piggery, it is now an upmarket holiday let.

A sculpture of a pig still sits outside the property today.

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