Are planned Godmanchester flood defences needed?

THE flood defence scheme for Godmanchester has been [scaled back] for lack of funds.

As I have said many times before in these columns, this scheme seems to have been drawn up with the 1947 flood in mind.

The Environment Agency has not taken into consideration all the work from 1950 to the 1980s, when the River Great Ouse was completely rebuilt with new structures replacing the old, antiquated flood gates and weirs.

New flood banks, planned by expert engineers, were built and obstructions removed. This took many years to complete, and the result was clear to see.

In Godmanchester, the two old wooden gates at the old mill were removed and weirs put in their place. The watercourse separating the recreation ground from Island Hall was filled in, and chain-link fencing erected in its place. The old wooden gates on the recreation ground were removed and the present-day gates inserted. This went on until the whole river was renewed.

Bromham Weir, near Bedford, was a fine piece of work, with a hole being dug in a field for a new weir, bypassing the old structure. This made a huge difference to the flow of flood water in that area.

All this work was done to ensure that the 1947 flood would never happen again.

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Electrifying the gates also made a great difference. When Godmanchester flood gates are fully open, Portholme takes the excess water, which then bypasses Godmanchester and lessens the chances of flooding.

Am I to understand that all this reconstruction was done for nothing?

I had 36 years of hard work, as did the strong workforce that was employed by the river authority.

The floods are nowhere near as bad as they used to be, and in all my lifetime I have never seen Godmanchester flooded. This can only be because of planning by first-class engineers at that time and the strong workforce.

In my opinion it is not a flood barrier that we need but more maintenance work to keep the watercourse clear.

If this flood scheme is just to prevent a new building site from flooding, surely it is the duty of the local authority and the Environment Agency to refuse permission to build on land prone to flooding, not to encourage it.


Rectory Gardens