Terry Soule, of the historic Old Corporation of Malmesbury, said the flood seemed containable until 2.30am when the river broke across and engulfed St John’s Street where his daughter lives.

“I’ve not known it so bad since the early 1960s,” he said. “Since then they have put wiers in to allow a smooth flow of water but there was just so much storm water it has broken over.”

He said St John’s Street was under two foot of water.

The St John’s Street home of his daughter Karyn Anderon, where she lives with her son Ben,11, was ruined: the new kitchen and carpets were saturated and new washine machine full of flood water.

But worst still was the old court house of the Old Corporation, where ancient flooring has been ruined.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us as a town,” he said.