THE Hemingfords regatta - one of the last inland village regattas in the country – has been cancelled this year to make way for a flood prevention scheme. Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots have held the festival every year on the River Great Ouse betw
THE Hemingfords regatta - one of the last inland village regattas in the country - has been cancelled this year to make way for a flood prevention scheme.
Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots have held the festival every year on the River Great Ouse between the two villages since 1901. The only other two occasions when the regatta has not been held were during the world wars.
It was due to take place on Saturday, July 8, but was cancelled because essential flood defence work on the river has not been finished.
Bill Lewis, chairman of the regatta committee, said: "The field is just too dangerous and too much of a mess for the regatta to go ahead. It just wouldn't be safe for families.
"We are disappointed and sad that we have had to cancel it, as we were told by the company who are doing the work that the site would be ready for the regatta. But the flood defences will benefit the village hugely so it is important that the work gets completed.
"There were just too many logistical problems in moving the location of the regatta or holding it on another date. But next year's regatta, being held on Saturday July 14, will be better than ever and so it will be worth the wait."
Over the years, the regatta has become a hugely popular event attracting thousands of people, with races for children and veterans.
The flood prevention work is being carried out by Jacksons which was contracted by the Environment Agency.
Peter Cowie, Environment Agency project manager, said: "We had been on programme to complete the embankment in time for the regatta. However, because we were unable to negotiate alternative access to other locations it has been necessary for us to keep the regatta field open as an access route for our equipment.
"The agency has put a lot of effort into trying to accommodate various domestic requirements for the villagers, whilst at the same time endeavouring to complete the scheme as soon as possible.
"When compete, the scheme will provide protection to properties in both Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbots against a once in 100 year chance of flooding."
INFORMATION: In 1904 the Vicar of Hemingford Grey, Reverend Byrom Holland, donated a trophy of crossed silver sculls for a Men's Double Sculling race which he called The Vicar's Sculls and organised a structure of rules for the races. Races are in double and single coxed pleasure rowing boats, canoes and punts and entry is restricted to villagers.