Lynmouth Flood Conspiracy Theory: Fact or Fiction?

First Published: November 23, 2015 Last updated: August 31st, 2020 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes Posted in: Conspiracy, Technology

For many years, conspiracies about what the government have done and what they have carried out have grown arms and legs. What starts out as a disgruntled comment in the pub from one person soon turns into a blog post claiming ‘sources’ and using haggard footage and extremely specific circumstances to try and sell the idea of a conspiracy.

A picture of the Lynmouth Flood

Lynmouth Flood picture

Sometimes, though, the “tin foil hat brigade” have a point. One incident where they may have had a point comes from the Lynmouth Flood Conspiracy Theory. This is a theory that there was potential military experimentatioroyaln and involvement – never admitted to, of course – on 15th-16th August 1952 in which a ridiculous storm created more than 9 inches of rain within just 24 hours. This excessive flood resulted in the deaths of 34 people and a huge amount of problems for the UK, not just this part of Exmoor.

The normal detail is that the storm was caused by a cold front brining in a thunderstorm from the sea, and this created a really powerful and dangerous concoction of weather. Eventually, the raft of debris being brought down the Lyn valley was enough to form a natural dam made by fallen trees and the like.

Waters rose at unsafe rates and caused flooding, more or less also creating an avalanche through the town. From massive boulders from the nearby hills swarming through the city to waves of trees and other natural debris being carried down, large sections of the village were more or less swept away in the carnage of it all. With so much carnage being caused and the style of the weather being so different to anything we typically see here in the UK, it made sense to look further into the event.

The actual events themselves seem normal enough – a large-scale storm causing damage to a rural community. The problem is more the sudden nature of it all, and the tropical nature of the storm; these kinds of storms are rarely if ever seen in the UK. To this day, this event still calls into question why this all occurred and whether the official explanations have any kind of relevance with what actually occurred in the first place. To find that out, we need to do some digging.

In here, we want to take a look at all of the evidence we could find that suggests either a government cover-up or just a horrible incident. The facts swing both ways so it’s vital to have a closer look at what is causing these problems and how they can be addressed as soon as possible. Whilst the village has been rebuilt and normal life has resumed for many years since, the families of those affects have never had full closure for what occurred.

Today, we want to see if we can put together a more comprehensive listing of events.

The Flood Itself

The actual flood itself was supposedly caused by a huge period of rainfall. Whilst rainfall in this kind of area is fairly common, it’s not common when it falls at this kind of brutality and consistency. The weather in this part of the UK may not be great, but it’s hardly renowned for its monsoon seasons! Therefore, the immediate problem being crated here is that the level of rainfall seems to be quite inconsistent with anything else that has occurred before or since in this part of the world – whilst storms of similar magnitude have occurred in various timelines – the most recent being 2004 – it’s not a common feature at all.

The general cause was put down to being heavy rainfall made with a low-pressure area that had suddenly formed across the Atlantic Ocean at one point. This dangerous concoction was then brought inland as it passed over the British Islands, and eventually turned into a brutal weather front. This weather front more or less continued to expand, grow and change.

The depth and detail of the storm itself ensures that it continued on for some time. The fact the location it fell on was already waterlogged made it even more brutal for those who were living here – the already dangerous conditions were now becoming ripe for a disaster within a very short space of time, creating an almost impossible situation to defend against. Much like a volcano going off, when nature starts rolling it cannot ever really be stopped!

A big part of the problem, though, was the fact that the River Lyn which ran through the town had recently bee culverted to add more space to the land. With this culverting being completed by the time of the storm, it quickly bottlenecked and became full with debris and the river more or less flowed through the town. The debris was large boulders and trees, making it nearly impossible for it to be cleared conventionally – especially during the storm itself.

Indeed, the debris raced down from the river and into the town itself. More than 100 buildings were ruined by the flood with just 3 of 31 bridges still standing come the end of the storm. 38 cars were washed away into the sae, as well.

In terms of the personal tragedies, 34 people tragically died and more than 400 were made homeless at the same time. Some of the most iconic structures within the area, namely the lighthouse, survived but were severely damaged. The lighthouse collapsed a day after the storm, falling into the river. These problems persisted for some time after, and it took many years of hard work and development to make sure that this would never occur again. The river, today, has been diverted around the village rather than through it to try and avoid any repeats in the future.

The big problem, then, is knowing why this occurred – does the Atlantic Ocean story match up? Or does something a bit more sinister become involved?

RAF Involvement?

The story of RAF involvement in this has come from many different sources over the years, and it has slowly but surely become a more popular theory that those who want to see something a bit more sinister are more than happy to believe. The theory itself is that the Royal Air Force were carrying out a secret experiment to deal with cloud seeding. The idea of cloud seeding itself is quite insane, and many people find it hard to believe we are trying things like this. However, with modern phenomenon’s like chemtrails and the like becoming more popular is it really so insane to think that weather control would be beyond the realms of possibility?

Main Street Lynmouth after the flood

Main Street Lynmouth after the flood

It seems that this incident was the blowback from an experiment that went wrong. This entire theory was generated by a 2001 documentary held on BBC Radio 4. Within this documentary, it was suggested that the events were linked to a Government Plan known as Project Cumulus. This was allegedly built around the idea of creating rain to help deal with things like drought in the future, and the documentary alleged that rain making experiments took place just days before the disaster had occurred.

In typical fashion, the documentary claimed that key documentation about this incident had since gone missing. Indeed, a few short days before the event a famous aeronautical engineer Alan Yates had sprayed salt into the air with his plane. What did this create? Extreme, heavy rainfall within the Staines area.

However, there are people who are less complicit in this belief – for example, meteorologist Philip Eden denounced the documentary saying that it was “preposterous” that such an experiment could have been the cause. He also noted that there was no evidence that these rain-making experiments even worked in the first place.

That being said, a mere month before the events occurred the Royal Meteorological Society held a full issue expose on these rain-making experiments; the issue was released just one month prior to the disaster. It is the belief of Eden, then, that such a fixture could not occur and that the level of rain-making experiments were neither wide spread enough or excessive enough to be a useful ally in detailing what was going on here.

Indeed, Eden stuck to the idea that it was created by prolonged heavy rain due to a large-scale change within the lifting of moist air, thus creating a deeply powerful storm across the West Country, South Wales, and this area in particular.

Given that 90m tonnes of water had come into the Lynmouth area, the breaking banks and the excessive damage caused would have been far beyond what anyone may have expected. Indeed, it was recorded that rainfall within North Devon was 250x the normal rate for this time of the year. Whilst experts may not look to the story with any real credence, there is plenty of minor details that seem to fit the bill of what may have occurred at this point in time.

Project Cumulus

This term is used to describe the experiment that was held within the 1950s by the UK Government, to try and determine how to manipulate weather. Weather manipulation is not new as an idea, and has been around for many years. Given that we usually need to bend to fit the wills of the weather around us in anything from construction to agriculture, it’s nearly impossible for the world to stay on track with the multiple changes typically associated with something like this.

It was operational for three years, between the years of 1949-1952, and in that period the Lynmouth disaster occurred. A cynic would say that the entire project was put to an end in the end of 1952, just after the events themselves had occurred in the first place. However, this entire aim of this event was to mess around with cloud seeding to see how the government could learn and improve from these.

The problem with doing this is the fact that weather manipulation is not thought to be powerful enough to see the depth of results that the government would have been hoping for. At the time, and even today, it’s understood that weather manipulation is still a weak process and has to be researched and improved considerably to make it worth our while. This means that even for the most willing believer, the chances that the technology was available in the 50s is quite rare.

The Motivation

To try and decide whether or not this has any real reasoning behind it, we need to understand what the motivation of the entire project itself was. The idea behind getting involved in Project Cumulus is the fact that rainfall and weather in general has always been a challenge for the UK. The idea, then, was to provide access to a new training program that would look to do three things;

Greatly reduce the level of fog spotted in airfields to help make sure that the aircraft in the UK could land without any problems. Fog is a common problem for visibility when flying and this little extra bit of information was all some needed to really buy into it.

Bogging down the movement of any attackers on UK soil. Whilst today aviation assaults on the UK might seem insane, back in this era the world was not too far from the dangerous nature of the Second World War so aerial assaults would still have been a possibility in this era.

Improving water flow in rivers to try and make them safer but also to make sure that, should enemies ever attack the UK, they have limited access to getting around. Excessive rivers would make it harder for people to move around in the boggy marshes this kind of weather would create.

The whole ideology behind the plan, then, was mostly war-based. The RAF wanted to make attacking the UK harder by using these special weather manipulation tricks along the way – but was it behind the deaths in the disaster?

Murder in the UK?

Of course, if any wrongdoing did occur, there has to be a research and a plan to find out why this happened – and what can be done to come to a logical conclusion in the years to come. One thing that stands out from the whole day, though, is the accounts from many people on the day that the air reeked of sulphur after the event. Given this is a smell associated with evil and the devil, is it any real surprise that people to this day still hold the belief and the notion of government experimentation gone wrong?

The events of the disaster meant that more than 60 people stayed in the hotel that night, and the entire area was more or less rushed into chaos. But could this incredible storm really have been caused by an experiment gone wrong? Did the UK government create a monster it had no control over?

People who were there at the time spotted a fair number of RAF aircraft flying over the area, circling the skies of Devon. By the time the storm kicked off, though, they were long gone. Would it not be more likely for RAF members to let emergency services in more populated nearby areas know of the impending danger here? With a birds eye view, they would have had a perfect angle of this occurring.

Indeed, even the MP of the area, Tony Spellar, tried to investigate this. Doing so in the 1980s, though, the files had gone “missing” for quite some time and no real evidence existed of the event ever occurring in the first place. It was not until the 21st Century when details of Operation Cumulus were found, so it took more than 50 years for any evidence to ever actually come out about the idea of weather generation by the government.

This brilliant Guardian report gives you a real idea of just how brutal the effects of this were. People cheered and celebrated as they thought they had accomplished something special. It was not until the actual reports came through about the deaths in Lynmouth that people within the group realised what they had done.

The fact the rain came from a sky which supposedly looked fresh and in the same vein as a summers evening makes it feel even stranger.

The notes from the 1953 meeting about bogging down enemies and the like certainly tallies with the events seen in 1952; were these an unintended consequence of what the meteorology department wished to occur?

Did the government really commit murder on such a grand scale?

A scene of the devastation at Lynmouth

Devastation at Lynmouth

The Results

Those who look at this today theorize that the intention was not to cause damage but to merely see how weather seeding technology was coming on; the result, though, was a monster that could not be harnessed or controlled again.

With the limited weather forecast accuracy and data in the 1950s, it’s hard to correlate information and put it all together to see this work.

The Dorset Eye, though, states that the Ministry of Defence has openly admitted in the past that they tampered with the weather in the Exmoor area. Our own research failed to show up this kind of admittance from the government, though. Indeed, the only statement we could find from the MoD was in the Telegraph, and stated that;

“There is no evidence to support claims that the RAF and the Meteorological Office were somehow responsible for the Lynmouth floods in 1952.

“A search of documents in the National Meteorological Library revealed just one item, an article published in the Royal Meteorological Society Journal in 1956.

“It clearly states that the Met Office was not involved in cloud-seeding experiments until 1954, two years after the floods.”

“Cloud seeding has rarely been successfully anywhere in the world. Consequently the Met Office had not pursued this line of research for many years.”

We mentioned the chemtrails theory earlier on in this, and it plays a key role in the development of this story. Theorists believe that what they use today are fake clouds that produce everything from metals and boron to dried blood and salts, slowly poisoning every man and woman on the planet. Whilst we might not believe as far as this, it’s a more dramatic step from the somewhat tame idea of weather seeding.

Indeed, if you look at the modern world, it’s hard to know what occurs today thanks to our own work, “global warming”, or nature. Climate change is something that is regularly discussed by people, and makes a convenient excuse for problems like this.

But what if climate change is merely the guard for these kinds of experiments? Whilst the planet is certainly changing (as it always has) there is some rather tenuous about snapshots of weather as brutal as this out of nowhere.

Other storms of similar capacity have occurred in the past, though, so it’s hard to determine whether this is another example of government meddling or just a genuine natural disaster. What is clear is that since the Second World War we have been witness to some truly amazing weather, and some really freakish results as well. Is this really something that is just occurring? Or does it have the input of man causing problems and making it harder than ever to balance out what is natural and what is synthetic today?

Whilst there have been official denials and people informing us that events have occurred similarly in the past, is it really believable? Do we all feel comfortable believing the “it just happened” route?

Especially with confirmation from meteorologists in the past that they attempted such an event in that area, and the development of weather tech ever since, it’s hard to believe that this was just a bit of bad luck for the people of Exmouth. If there was a tragedy that was brought on by the hands of the government, though, it’s about time they bravely admitted this.

BBC Footage of the Lynmouth Disaster


So, given how rain making actually works – dropping materials into clouds to try and create water vapor – is this a bad thing? Should the disaster of Lynmouth really be the end of these kinds of experiments and ideas? Could this not be a great thing to have on our side?

The problem is what they are making it with – it’s suspected that, if the RAF did create anything in 1952, they used a mix of salt, dry ice and silver iodide. The problem is we don’t really want any of that forming in the sky above us and then dropping down on us! That’s not a good thing, at all.

The arguments for all come from putting two and two together; RAF planes in the sky, outlandish weather from nowhere, accepted MoD experiments of the past.

The arguments for it not being the case, though, come from people within meteorology and the like. These people are supposed to be the experts, and given the variable nature of rainfall it’s hard to tell if any chemical inputs can really create what they were expected to.

This makes it really hard to tell what is true and what is not true in the kind of event. At the time of writing, various investigations looking for silver iodide traces are being carried out to see if any kind of relevance can be found. The chances are, though, that 50+ years of time passing since the event means that nothing will actually be found here.

Whilst silver residue has been found in the River Lyn, it’s not quite enough at the moment to keep pushing for further proof to be released; it’s all a bit of a guessing game. Our own take on it, though, is that with enough smoke there usually is fire. We’ve seen “experts” be proven wrong in the past when they could only have been right, so it’s hard to accept one person’s word versus the sheer severity of the events.

What is clear, though, is that the events of that day were heavily built around the systematic change in something. What occurred was not natural, nor has it occurred in the same severity since. The 2004 equivalent produced nothing like the same volume or the same damage, so it’s hard to say if that was a mere cause of the event or if this just occurred for various different reasons.

What you do need to consider, though, is the development of new technology. Given that the world is constantly adapting and overcoming problems, why would it be strange for governments to be working on weather tech? Excess rain and excess drought are common in many parts of the world, and changing that could be a key factor in improving the world in the future.

However, when the experiments go wrong and start claiming the lives of people, it’s important that those responsible stand up and admit their failings. To this day, there’s never been any kind of admittance or apology – is this because it never happened? Or because the act was so heinous?


The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

Copyright & Republishing Policy

The entire article and the contents within are published by, wholly-owned and copyright of UFO Insight.  The author does not own the rights to this content. 

You may republish short quotes from this article with a reference back to the original UFO Insight article here as the source. You may not republish the article in its entirety.

About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and join our subscribers. Receive the latest articles directly in your inbox weekly.

If you don't like what you read, you can unsubscribe at any time.


UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the content of the comments below.  We take care of filtering profanity as much as we can.  The opinions and discussion in the comments below are not the views of UFO Insight, they are the views of the individual posting the comment.

Newest comments appear first, oldest at the bottom. Post a new comment!

  • Mary Cross says:

    i was staying the top porlock hill just after this lot happend it was amess ive the book too 1953

  • Bernette says:

    Hadn’t heard of the place until we booked a night there this year. Such a quaint place and learning all about the flood was remarkable. X

  • Lorna Tucker says:

    As a kid, went there days after it had happened. Still can see it in my mind eye

  • Andrew Bevan says:

    My family were in that flood, very much fact of course, lost a hotel due to the torrential rain. Beautiful villages top and bottom.

  • Ralph Sherlock says:

    This Cloud Seeding idea is a load of rubbish, just ‘conspirisy ‘ theorists at it again. In 1608 a storm so strong was blown into the Harbour and river mouth at Lynmouth that it wiped out every Herring House in Lynmouth and in fact hit the River Lyn so hard that it changed the course of the River. Yet there was no RAF to seed any clouds to make that happen!

  • Sean McCarthy says:

    in my opinion the cloud seeding was done in an attempt to bog down Russian tank manouveres in an esculating cold war… the sudden change of wind direction meant the rainfall fell in an isolated area causing the floods….

  • Susan New says:

    If so why not seed some clouds in 75-76,terrible drought ever

  • Maureen Coopland says:

    Been many times beautiful place !

  • Penny Bale says:

    As a child, and living in Taunton at the time, I went there just days after the flood, the images will never leave me, it was horrendous.

  • Teresa Adams says:

    We had photos my dad took on the day and you can see the yellowy light had distorted them

  • Joe Hill says:

    As a survivor of the flood I heard my uncles and parents tell of huge clouds being blown across the BRISTOL CHANNEL from WALES the clouds were orange and reds and yellow in colour. (We did not know about cloud seeding then)they must have seeded the brecon beacons. .why seed salisbury plain where it’s flat and not that wet.why not the welsh mountains where it’s always cloudy. First you need clouds before you can seed them. Also after 50 years the official secrets act expires. Yet ALL documents dealing with OPERATION CUMULUS are lost and have never been found. Say what you like but it does not add up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *