I HAVE read that a plan is being devised to fill in part of the Causeway in Godmanchester. The idea is not new, as the question came up years ago when Anglian Water was in charge of the River Ouse. Needless to say the scheme was thrown out. In 1949, I had
I HAVE read that a plan is being devised to fill in part of the Causeway in Godmanchester. The idea is not new, as the question came up years ago when Anglian Water was in charge of the River Ouse. Needless to say the scheme was thrown out.
In 1949, I had the pleasure of working on the Great Ouse, when the catchment board had the custody of operations.
During the war years the river had been sadly neglected, so extensive dredging took place afterwards and, with a lot of hard work, the Great Ouse began to come to life. The fishing improved greatly and all types of wildlife began to flourish.
Tugs and barges of coal were constantly supplying the steam dredgers. Old flood gates were ripped out and new ones put in their place, each designed to cope with the expected river levels for years to come.
Godmanchester had its old wooden gates removed and three new gates put in. They are still there, but now operated by electricity, allowing the river flow to be controlled.
The river Great Ouse Catchment Board played a large part in all these operations, followed by Great Ouse River Board and Great Ouse Authority. When I left the river, it was under the control of Anglian Water Great Ouse River division. Each of these authorities had excellent engineers who were always in control.
Many times, the flood water would arrive in the night, after working hours. That meant that I and other men on flood control would be out in all weathers, and by morning the river would be under control.
The river would be monitored and patrols sent out. Their job was to keep bridges and locks free of debris. As the volume of water increased, we would know which property or street would be affected. The local authorities would be notified and all precautions taken.
With this information I would know that, if the river reached 155 cubic metres per second, Berry Lane and Godmanchester Causeway would begin to flood. During my 36 years I cannot recall that every happening.
In the years of 1939 and 1940, discharges in the Bedford area registered 170 m3/sec - in 1947, a most exceptional year, 285 m3/sec. These types of flood would occur once in 30 years if we had some very adverse weather. In 1959 it reached 144.3 m3/sec.
Much is made of floods nowadays but most of the water comes off roads etc.
The flooded roads at St Neots and Buckden have always occurred. In this area Brampton Road used to be one of the first places to flood at Nun's Bridge. This will always happen on a real flood.
The flood gates at Houghton will discharge 111 m3/sec. St Ives can cope with only 69 m3/sec. Therefore, extensive flooding will always take place in that area.
The filling in of the Causeway would ruin the town and would never be replaced. It is a haven for breeding carp and a popular place for artists, photographers and television companies. Godmanchester without the Causeway would be ruined as a place of beauty enjoyed by us, the people who live here.
A wall built across the Causeway would encourage river craft to moor there, and one of them could quite easily be drawn into the flood gates during a spring flow of high water.
The Causeway has been a feature of Godmanchester for hundreds of years and is what makes our town of Godmanchester different from others.
WILLIAM E BROWN