Flooding in Cirencester

Some homes in Cirencester and villages along the River Churn have suffered flooding this winter, and more have been under threat. The Friends of Gumstool Brook are interested in adequate water flow in local streams in dry, summer weather, but also in protection from excess water during wet, winter conditions. We are a special interest group so have no power to make changes, but we record data, make it available and encourage the various official organisations to work together to manage the watercourses wisely. That management is not an easy task, the various interlinked streams and the Churn affect one another, and keeping everything in balance is a challenge. When heavy rain fills the Churn north of Cirencester the water spreads across the flood meadows and these act as holding reservoirs – up to a point.

Here’s a photo of the Churn passing under the Abbey Way bridge on 27th December, 2020 as you can see, it’s almost up to the underside of the bridge itself.

And this is the field beside the Barton Mill Pound, doing a great job of holding water that would otherwise threaten homes in The Mead and Gloucester Street.

And finally, this is water overflowing from the Mill Pound into the flood meadow, despite a rapidly flowing conduit recently installed to prevent the level ever reaching this point. When rain is heavy and persistent over a period of weeks, this is the inevitable result.

Our hearts go out to everyone suffering from flooding. We will continue to monitor the conditions and influence the decision makers to the best of our ability. Meanwhile, we can all hope for drier weather as this will quickly reduce water levels and get us back to normal.

We wish all our readers a Happy (and flood free) New Year in 2021.

Chris Jefferies

A wet winter and full water courses

This winter has been much wetter than normal; frequent and sometimes heavy rain has filled local streams and the River Churn to unusually high levels for an extended period. The photo shows the water flowing past Cirencester’s outdoor swimming pool on 29th October. The pipe crossing the stream is normally well above the water level, and although no longer covered now, the gap between pipe and water remains unusually small. The water meadows along the course of the Churn have been partially flooded for three months now.

Of course, some winters are wetter than others and that has always been the case. 2019/2020 has not been exceptional in the long-term record, and it’s been good to see water levels consistently high for an extended period when we’ve so often witnessed the Daglingworth Stream completely dry between Stratton and Cirencester in summertime. Will this happen in 2020? We’ll have to wait and see.

Our local watercourses are always fascinating, ever changing, and with some interesting wildlife. If you haven’t done so recently, pick a dry, sunny day and treat yourself to a stroll along the Churn and its associated streams. OpenStreetMap marks most of the smaller paths and shows the water courses clearly, all an easy walk from the Market Place.

Chris Jefferies