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Tewkesbury In Flood

January 7, 2014

By Paul Homewood


One of the most iconic photos wheeled out, whenever there is flooding in England, is Tewkesbury, an old town in Gloucestershire, at the confluence of the Rivers Avon and Severn.



It looks like an island, surrounded by water. The Abbey, which dates back to the 12thC, and the surrounding old quarter of the town, are obviously built on the highest ground around.

Now, I wonder why that would be? Could it be that the Severn and Avon have flooded since time immemorial and that, knowing this, our forefathers made sure that their homes and churches were constructed on ground that would stay dry in even the most extreme circumstances?


Floods such as those in 1924?


Or 1929?


File:Tewkesbury Floods - - 1702620.jpg


Or 1947?


Or 1990?


Or 1998?


Or 1999?


Perhaps our planners could learn something from our medieval ancestors.

  1. John Kay permalink
    January 7, 2014 6:04 pm

    Not to mention 2007 …

  2. A C Osborn permalink
    January 7, 2014 6:11 pm

    Come on Paul, you said “Perhaps our planners could learn something from our medieval ancestors.”, how can they do that, it takes “Common Sense” and the Planners don’t have any, it has been subsumed by “Regulation Overload”.
    There is no doubt about it, modern planners and the environmental agencies really know how to make a bad situation worse.
    Ask most people how to control flood water and they will come up with
    Keep water channels deep and clean, keep drains clean.
    Build defensive walls where necessary.
    Provide areas for “Run Off”.
    Don’t build where it has already flooded, but if you must, put the houses on stilts or wall them in.

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    January 7, 2014 6:33 pm

    Paul, I forgot one other thing, you have to have the Political will to invest in Flood Defenses.
    How can that exist when they are told that 1 in 10, 20, 50 year events will become a thing of the past as Global Warming will bring a Mediterranean type climate and Drought to severe Drought conditions?

  4. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 7, 2014 6:48 pm

    Each year some friends stay in the UK over Christmas and into January and so we pay a bit more attention to the weather at this time than other parts of the year. So, one of the flood related reports shows a photo of an angry lady confronting David Cameron because her home had no power.

    This was at Yalding in Kent. The story has some odd elements such as blaming the lack of response to “the council” all having gone off on holiday, greedy profit seeking electric companies, and the police providing security for the P.M.

    The Yalding area, like Tewkesbury, seems as flat as a billiard table. Wiki says “The village is situated 6 miles (9.7 km) south west of Maidstone at a point where the Rivers Teise and Beult join the River Medway.” There were good reasons for these villages to be located at confluences of rivers and river crossings 500 years ago. That was before planes, trains, and video games (sorry) – electricity, motor vehicles, and the current government. Such towns, as they grow into the surrounding low spots cannot be protected.

    People also should be prepared to take care of themselves for 3 to 5 days because when the entire region is in the middle of an emergency the responders get spread very thinly.

  5. January 7, 2014 8:03 pm

    Another great piece of research, Paul.

  6. January 7, 2014 8:32 pm

    I saw this on Where’s the rest of the town?

    The picture of the church shows that those who built it knew where the high ground was!

  7. Allan M permalink
    January 8, 2014 1:08 am

    I have lived in Malvern for 12 years or so, and from the Malvern hills I can see the whole Severn plain from Worcester to Tewkesbury. The river level at Worcester on Monday was quite high, but even in my time here I have seen the Severn, at its confluence with the Teme, at least 6 feet higher than this.

    If Tewkesbury has been ‘unprecedentedly’ inundated (if anyone said that?) then the Avon must have done something amazingly superfluvial. I wonder if the RSC, upstream, has disappeared?

  8. Bill permalink
    January 10, 2014 6:16 pm

    *Puts conspiracy head on*
    Could it be that building hundreds of thousands of modern homes on flood-plains will achieve two important goals for the ‘fat controllers’? Firstly, the repeated flooding of these homes will allow the insurance companies to hike up premiums. Secondly, it will boost the propaganda machine linking floods to Global Warming and deepen the almost bottomless pit of public funding available to combat them in the future.

  9. Peter Woodhams. permalink
    January 22, 2014 7:35 pm

    350 year Ballsup and still cant get it right. Needs civil engineering, claim all the flood plains back.

  10. Malcolm Crick permalink
    February 19, 2014 11:08 am

    Maybe the planners should be asked how much was spent clearing drains,ditches, etc after the 2007 floods, it’s all down to lack of maintenance, and the fact greed is a big problem if they can sell land to developers they will, who cares what happens next. Answer. No one


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