Yarm is situated on the south-side of the River Tees in the North Riding of Yorkshire and until the middle of the eighteenth century was a major inland port as its fifteenth-century stone bridge was the first crossing-place over the river from the coast. However, following the 1771 destructive flood known as ‘The Great Inundation’ a new bridge was constructed nearer to the sea at Stockton on Tees on the north side of the river in County Durham which affected Yarm’s prosperity. Yarm’s bridge had not been destroyed in 1771 but it continued to be a flood hazard as its five arches collected detritus and blocked water flow. The actress Charlotte Lowes visited the town in about 1790 with a strolling company and commented on this in her memoir:

“The town at that time consisted of large handsome houses, once inhabited by very genteel families, but on account of the immense floods it became deserted by all but fishermen and their connections, who procured a scanty subsistence from that element which had banished from the place the wealthy.”

Lowes’ experience of a visit to a semi-abandoned town prone to flooding is suggestive of the marginal spaces in which she spent considerable periods of her career as a northern stroller.

Associations to Yarm