The wet weather and storms continue to dominate the news, as parts of the country continue to suffer the dreadful weather. Much of the attention has been on the South West, and in particular the Somerset levels. Coastal areas have also taken a huge battering. But more inland areas, too, are suffering, and I experienced this for myself on Friday when I attempted to leave my own village of Newport in Essex to get to work.
The village was cut off completely at both ends, due to flooding around Shortgrove Hall to the north and Quendon to the south. There was no chance to head west either, as the road to villages like Clavering were also hit.
I eventually made it to work by heading east towards Debden, on higher ground, and then travelling through Saffron Walden. Apart from some flooding near Great Chesterford, I was able to make it to the motorway and on to Wimpole. But it would seem I was lucky – some had to be rescued from their homes, and many local schools were shut.
Newport remains affected. Below is a picture of Newport Common, the grassy open space near the railway station.
|Newport Common, now Newport Pond once more|
In the past this field has been called Newport Pond, and indeed the whole village at one point went by that name. So flooding in this area is not unusual. ‘Village in Time’, an excellent history of Newport, records that there were floods in 1947, 1955, 1958, 1960, 1963, 1968, 1987 and 1993. But its impacts always bring hardship, and this year the main casualty has been the village pantomime, Snow White, which was due to be shown this weekend. The show takes place in the village hall, which is next to the common and which has been flooded, damaging props and scenery. The show has been postponed until March – let’s hope the floods have gone by then.
National Trust places in Essex have also been hit. Hatfield Forest has been closed more times in the last two months than in any time over the 90 years since the Trust acquired it in 1924. High winds are the problem, as they require us to make sure the Forest is safe for visitors. But flooding has also caused problems.
|Underwater cycling at Hatfield Forest|
Here was the scene last Saturday morning, when we made a visit to the Forest. A car was stuck in 4ft of water under the disused railway bridge on the approach to the main car park. For some indication of the amount of water, note the brave cyclist who successfully attempted to ride through the puddle. The water entirely covered both of his wheels.