The Anchor Inn at Barcombe has never been the easiest of pubs to run.

On December 30, 1994, its owners had to canoe across a moat with their children to get inside.

Intense rainfall, which had been reported as the worst in 20 years, rose up around the pub creating a moat several feet deep.

Mrs Bovet-White, who was landlord of the pub with her husband, told The Argus: “The current was so strong we nearly got washed away. Then when we got back and wished we hadn’t.”

Inside the pub the family found Pippa the dog floating on a sea of water in the dining room while the family cat perched on the kitchen table looking on.

The damage caused to the property by the flooding was so extreme because the pub lies on the west bank of the River Ouse and cost the couple nearly £100,000 in repairs.

Mrs Bovet-White explained: “The floodwater did a lot of damage inside and ruined a lot of our furniture.

We had to hack the plaster off the lower half of all the downstairs rooms and then replaster.

“All the floor coverings were ruined and some of the floorboards had to be replaced.”

The same happened back in 1974.

The Argus:

But instead of shutting the pub until the water levels dropped, the resourceful owners used paddle power to ferry regulars over for a drink.

Mr Bovet-White said: “If they sound their horns three times, I will come up by boat and bring them to the pub.

“I have had to do this before. Luckily the house is dry, but the water is lapping at the door.”

Flood warnings were issued by the Sussex River Authority when the level of some of the rivers reached danger point.

In 1974 the nearest dry land was 150 yards away from the pub where the railway met a track leading to the pub at a level crossing.

When the Bovet-White family moved out in 1999 after 37 years in the property, father and son team Peter and Michael Harris took over and continued to run the Anchor as a pub and boating centre.

The Argus:

In December 1999, flooding dampened festive cheer by forcing Peter and Michael to cancel 20 booked Christmas lunches.

Speaking in January 2000, Michael said: “We would not have bought the pub if we had not been assured its flooding days were mostly over.

“The Environment Agency has done a fantastic job with the new gates and we are confident the days of regular flooding are a thing of the past.”

The Argus:

The Anchor Inn has remained buoyant since it was first built in 1790 when it catered for bargees who travelled up the Ouse, from Newhaven to Slaugham.

Among the cargo carried on the river including brick used to build Barcombe Viaduct for the railway in 1846.

The rise of the railway led to a decline in river traffic and the last barge moored at the Anchor Inn in 1861.

However, it could have been very different for the pub.

One former innkeeper who was caught smuggling in 1895 had his licence confiscated and the inn was not licensed again until 1963 when the Bovey-White family took it on.

Today the Anchor Inn is shipshape, serving drinks and food in its bars and continues its boating tradition.




1717: King George I of Great Britain sails down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians.

1959: Dr Leakey discovers the oldest human skull.

1974: Bomb explodes in The Tower of London.

1992: Co-headlining concert by Guns ’N’ Roses and Metallica.

2003: Venice in Italy is threatened by global warming with increasing water levels.

2006: Indonesia is hit by 7.7 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunami.

The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit

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