I finally braved it today and went out to look at the terrible floods that are causing so much distress and concern in Somerset. I went with Dan Alsop a very experienced drainage engineer and saw the problems that not having a tidal sluice on the river Parrett is causing. The reason this river does not have a tidal sluice which would keep out the huge amount of mud that the high tides of the Bristol Channel dump in it, goes back a long way. There was once a flourishing and world famous industry in Bridgwater that used the mud deposited by the tide to make ‘Bath Bricks’. These were used as an abrasive for scrubbing before we had cream cleaners and the such like. The owners of this business used their considerable influence to keep the mud flowing in to the Rive Parrett. Nearby rivers such as the Brue, do have tidal sluices and so don’t have the silting up problems that the Parrett does.
The floods were awe inspiring in their extent, spectacular, but deeply worrying for those who live and farm nearby .