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The River Thames in Flood
Windsor, January 2003

Last updated - 23rd January 2003, 0.30am
All text and photographs copyright © ThamesLink Ltd 2003

Local meetings concerning the 2003 floods

Tue 21 Jan @ 7.30 pm, Wraysbury Village Hall.
Thu 23 Jan @ 9.00am - 9.00pm, Hythe Centre, Egham.

See Also

Index to Flood Relief Scheme
The Jubilee River

Index to River Thames stories including earlier flooding

The Environment Agency
Flood Warning system

Royal Windsor Home Page

The after effects of
the New Year Floods

Back to News in 2003

Windsor Castle reflected in floods

Apparently the river, but in fact flood water over the Home Park at the point where the Horse Show and All The Queen's Horses took place in May 2002.
This photo taken Sunday 5th January 2003 at 10.30am

As the floods have now receded, this page will only be updated if additional reports and photographs are received. Correspondence and other information in the aftermath has been included here -- The Aftermath. If flooding returns in the future, we will resume daily reports and pictures on our Home Page. We would welcome additional pictures of the floods in this area for inclusion on the Royal Windsor Web Site.

Introduction - The days before the flood

November and December 2002 had been exceptionally wet months, and the period around Christmas particularly so. Rainfall along the Thames Valley since 1st November 2002 was reported to be 261mm [over 5"] and more than double the average of 136mm [2.6"]. From 21 December to 31 December, 86mm [almost 3.5"] of rain fell in the region, more than the average for the whole month. The result was that by the New Year of 2002/3 there were numerous areas affected by minor floods not just in the Thames Valley, but throughout the UK.
  In Windsor the river started to rise significantly from the New Year, not peaking until the weekend of January 4th/5th. A Flood Watch had been instigated by the Environment Agency at 2.40pm on Thursday 2nd January. The Jubilee River was put in to operation, diverting water from upstream of Boulters Lock in Maidenhead and returning it to the river below Windsor, at Black Potts railway bridge, in the Datchet to Old Windsor reach.
  On Friday 3rd January it was seen that levels below Windsor reach were very high, higher than in 2000, and the Environment Agency issued a Flood Warning
indicating that main roads and property were liable to flooding. On Saturday evening at 9pm this was upgraded to a Severe Flood Warning where "serious flooding is expected. There is imminent danger to life and property. Act now!" (Environment Agency wording).
  Windsor had been issued only with a Flood Watch where flooding was considered possible, though not necessarily in any areas where property might be affected.

Saturday 4th January 2003

By Saturday midday levels in Windsor had exceeded the levels seen in mid-December 2000, the last time that the river had been significantly high. By Saturday evening large areas of the Home Park had been flooded.

Windsor Bridge from upstream

Windsor Bridge from upstream
5th January 2003

In the picture above the promenade walkway is flooded, and the wall (top right) almost submerged, with river levels a few inches higher than in December 2000. By Saturday evening this wall was underwater.

Approach road to Home Park Car Park
The access road in Windsor Home Park.
5th January 2003

In the Home Park on Saturday morning the east car park and road leading to it had been closed. On Friday evening this road was still dry. By Saturday evening the levels had risen a further 6".

Saturday morning training went ahead, just

Saturday morning training went ahead, just...
4th January 2003

Long shot Home Park

Club huts marooned as the water submerged the Home Park.
4th January 2003

The area of the Maastricht Lake

Saturday morning, 4th January, the area of the 18th century Maastricht Lake is submerged beside the Windsor - Datchet road.
The pond here is created by the rising ground water, the area of which grew significantly throughout Saturday.

A view downstream from Victoria Bridge

A view downstream from Victoria Bridge showing the flood waters have extended over a considerable distance into the private areas of the Home Park around an area known as (Molly) Dodds Hill.

A view of Victoria Bridge

A view of the water flowing around Victoria Bridge

Sunday 5th January 2003

LS from Victoria Bridge over Home Park

The view from Victoria Bridge over the Home Park.
5th January 2003

By Sunday morning, 5th January, the river had inundated large areas of the Home Park at Windsor as the river in the reach below Romney Lock continued to rise. The following photographs show extensive flooding right across the playing fields.

From Datchet Road north

From Datchet Road looking north towards the club houses on the far side
5th January 2003

Surreal scene

A surreal scene from amongst the trees by the Rugby Clubhouse
5th January 2003

Rugby pitches

No play today...

Looking south from the club houses

Looking south east across towards the Datchet Road
5th January 2003

The Severe Flood Warning issued at 9pm Saturday evening was revised by the Environment Agency in the recorded announcement issued on Sunday at 2.15pm. This emphasised the danger of flooding particularly in the Wraysbury, Staines and Laleham areas. Windsor reach remained only at Flood Watch, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Jubilee River in keeping river level below danger level around the town.
  By 3pm at the western level crossing in Datchet, water was seen between the rails and the crossing was being manually operated. Steam was seen rising from around the insulators supporting the live electric rail and a small stream of water was running down from the track along the kerbside forming a growing puddle in the exit road in the Slough direction, outside the Used Car Sales garage. By 5pm this had spread across to the middle of the road and the railway was closed as flood water submerged the track. Train services were suspended out of Windsor and Eton Riverside to Waterloo soon after. South West Trains announced
"Train services between Staines and Windsor & Eton Riverside are being disrupted due to flooding in the Datchet area. Engineers are working as fast as possible to restore services to normal. Delays can be expected on many trains. A bus service will operate between Staines and Windsor and V.V. until futher notice . Buses are no longer able to stop at Datchet due to localised flooding in the area."  
  Meanwhile, downstream in Wraysbury the river was rising fast and we received this picture from Les Willis, Gloucester Drive, Hythe End, Wraysbury.

Gloucester Drive, Hythe End

Gloucester Drive, Hythe End, Wraysbury
3.00pm on Sunday 5th January about 6 hours before "High Tide".
(With thanks to
Les Willis of Gloucester Drive for sending this to us)

Monday 6th January 2003

There has been little change in the levels in Windsor reach and down stream at Datchet overnight and the Environment Agency in their telephone Flood Line Announcement issued at 10.30am on Monday 6th January indicate that river levels would remain high but by 3.00pm the Datchet Reach had fallen by several inches. At Windsor too levels had begun to fall slowly. There was a hard frost last night, and Monday has been clear and sunny. The Windsor to Waterloo line remains suspended between Windsor and Staines due to flooding at Datchet, pictured below.

Railway Crossing at Datchet

The flooded railway level crossing and submerged rails at Datchet.
6th January 2003 10.00am

Traffic at Datchet

Flood water flowing down from the level crossing forms a small lake in the roadway. 6th January 2003 10.00am

The announcement on South West Trains issued on Sunday evening, 5th January 2003

Tuesday 7th January 2003

River levels are now falling in both Windsor and Datchet areas and are forecast to continue to fall slowly. On Tuesday morning levels were approximately 1' (30cm) lower than at their peak on Sunday night. The railway line between Windsor and Staines that was closed due to flooding at Datchet on Sunday evening at 5pm resumed on an hourly basis at midday on Tuesday as flood water on the track had subsided. A belated track inspection that should have taken place "at first light" was reported to be in progress at 10.15am with the chance that train services would resume shortly thereafter, assuming that no damage to the track had taken place. Damage was unlikely as the water was not fast flowing, merely standing water in a slight dip in the track on the approach to Datchet Station. (Pictures above). The hourly service is currently being supplemented by a bus service between Windsor and Staines until train departures get back to normal.
  The Brocas at Windsor is no longer under water, apart from some standing water, and the large areas of flood water over the Home Park are now receding. Levels currently are around the level of
December 2000, the last occasion when the river was seriously in flood.

Wednesday 8th January 2003

Although a Flood Watch remains in force for the river Thames at Windsor, the serious threat to property of the last few days is now receding as river levels fall. Train services between Windsor and Staines on the Waterloo line had been suspended from Sunday 5th January at 5.00 until Tuesday 7th January due to track flooding at Datchet, but have now returned to normal. Previously mild but wet weather during December and over the New Year has now been replaced with freezing conditions, with very light snow from time to time. For reactions and news in the coming days and weeks see The Aftermath of the Floods of January 2003

Thursday 9th January 2003

Flood Warnings Status

The Environment Agency Flood Warnings for the river Thames between Maidenhead and Windsor have been as follows in the past year:

Flood Watch, 08:28 on 05-Feb-2002
All Clear, 10:55 on 09-Feb-2002
Flood Watch, 14:39 on 02-Jan-2003
All Clear, 10:38 on 09-Jan-2003

Saturday 11th January 2003

On Saturday 11th January, following almost a week of freezing weather, with night time temperatures in the region of -9°C and daytime rarely above 2°C, the flooded Home Park had become an ice rink! Flood waters had receded, leaving behind a vast area of thick ice, much enjoyed by youngsters who seemed not to care about falling flat on their backs more than once!

Frozen flood waters across The Home Park

Thick ice covers a vast area of The Home Park

The ice marks the highest point

The ice marks the highest point as the flood waters recede from beneath the ice.

On Wednesday, 08 January 2003, the Royal Borough issued the following Press Release

Floods - Royal Borough In Action

The Royal Borough's operations team swung into action at the weekend when floods engulfed large areas of the borough, leaving 500 homes surounded by water and hundreds of residents marooned.
  Worst-affected areas were Wraysbury in the east, with 350 properties affected - where 20 residents had to be evacuated from their homes as flood waters rose sharply on Saturday afternoon - and Bisham, Hurley, Temple and Cookham in the west, with 150 homes hit.
  Residents in 30 properties on Friary Island in Wraysbury were completely cut off, with Wharf Road, Ouseley Road and The Island also under water. In some areas, water levels rose by as much as four feet over the weekend.
  Operations team staff worked round the clock from Thursday night and throughout the weekend in response to the thousands of calls from worried residents to the council's depot in Windsor:

    • staffing the 24-hour emergency control room
    • making up and distributing more than 30,000 sandbags to householders
    • sending out reconnaissance teams to assess the worst-hit areas
    • closing roads across the borough as they became impassable, in response to requests from the police
    • assisting the fire service with the evacuation of residents
    • helping the ambulance service attending calls from flooded areas ­ including "boating" ambulance crews to one property.

By early yesterday (Monday) water levels had peaked ­ but the sandbag-making continued and the operations team were preparing to set up diversion routes where roads were still impassable. 
  Operations unit staff also organised and operated two hovercraft provided by the charity  Associated Search and Rescue Hovercrafts (ASRH) to supply a temporary "bus" service for local residents, ferrying them to and from their homes until flood waters subside.
  Cllr Derek Wilson, lead member for public protection, said: "This has been a major flooding incident.  The scale of the damage is immense, particularly in Wraysbury. It has been a very traumatic time for a great many people whose properties have been under threat after water levels rose very quickly on Saturday.
  "I would like to pay particular tribute to our dedicated operations team who have been working flat out all over the weekend, with staff on duty round the clock answering calls in the emergency control room and filling sandbags to keep up with demand.
  "We have worked closely with the police and fire service ­ with members of both forces based at our control room ­ to offer asistance to as many people as possible.
  "Now our task will be to ensure we continue to work together to help people cope with the aftermath of the floods and return to normal as soon as possible."

An extract from 'The Windsor Floods of 1947'

There had been a minor flood in December, but nothing much except that the ground was becoming saturated, and the snow represented whole lakes of water if there was a sudden thaw. And there was. In addition, heavy rain fell on March 10th, followed by even heavier rain - nearly one inch (2.5 cm). On March 14th the thawing snows could not drain into the frozen ground and so the water continued down hill into the streams and rivers. These rose at an alarming rate - sometimes almost a foot (30 cm) an hour. Old hands prepared to visit relatives living on high ground. The Thames topped its banks on 14th March...

See Also

Index to Flood Relief Scheme
The Jubilee River

Index to River Thames stories including earlier flooding

The Environment Agency
Flood Warning system

Royal Windsor Home Page

Back to News in 2003

The Royal Windsor Home Page

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