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The Jubilee River story (0948m) -

Thames Flood Events - Jan/Feb 2014

There is no denying that it was very wet for a long period of time but.............. my brief report compiled in March and amended 10 June 2014 is reproduced below.

The truth is that the EA operated the Taplow Flow Control Structure at the inlet to the Jubilee River at all hours of the day and night.  Many of the gate movements occurred around midnight, the gates were finally left wide open (right out of the water) and the gate movement and flow records are incomplete.

River level gauging is unreliable and the variation in datum and range between adjacent gauge hydrographs leaves the information open to misinterpretation. The truth is that the EA has manipulated the presentation of the water levels in order to visually attenuate the graph and mask the magnitude of the variations.

Significant structural damage to the Jubilee River was still being repaired in November 2014.

There is much that can be done to reduce the probability of flooding but my guess is that as in 2003 and in 2007 nothing will happen. 

Assurances from the Prime Minister and others given in February 2014 have already been forgotten!

As for dredging - this is splendid example of polotics (the practice of kicking alternative policies around indefinitely in the hope that the problem will eventually go away).  The EA has no legal duty to dredge for conveyance purposes!

For a really interesting assessment you can click on the following external link to read Simon Walters Mail online report 'The Wrath of Wraysbury'

Lessons to be learned - Flood events - downstream of Windsor

 – January and February 2014.

(Brief notes including the way forward and some supporting evidence  

- compiled by Ewan Larcombe – Amended 10 June 2014).

FRAG Report 2004 - The lessons learned from the 2003 flood event and in particular the recommendations from Clive Onions 2004 FRAG Report were not actioned.

Thames dredging – Repeated calls to reinstate Thames dredging have been deflected or ignored by the EA.  In my opinion the conveyance capacity of the Thames must be maximised before the sub-standard £256m Lower Thames Scheme is progressed.

Ordinary watercourses - Recent recommendations in respect of ordinary watercourse and drainage ditch maintenance have not been actioned.  In addition a variety of local flood defence improvements have not been actioned and some flood local defence embankments have been removed.

Warning - In my opinion the Sunday (9th February) morning flood warning could have been raised earlier. I realised that what was about to happen was inevitable and I do not understand why the EA left the ‘serious’ warning to the last moment (Sunday morning).

Jubilee River – The Jubilee River is sub-standard in design, construction, operation and capacity. There is evidence to demonstrate that adjustment of the flow control structure at Taplow produces detrimental downstream effects and that the gates were left wide open for a significant period of time during the flood event. The magnitude and timing of the gate adjustments are both crucial and significant.  The river level gauging is not only misleading but also unreliable.  There is serious bank damage at Taplow.  The Jubilee River was out-of-banks yet again at Black Potts with additional consequential damage to the footpath that had not been repaired since the 2012 event and is still un-repaired.

River level gauging and hydrographs - The EA on-line river level system has a number of shortcomings including the unreliability of the gauges.  The variation in datum and range between adjacent gauge hydrographs leaves the information open to misinterpretation. In particular the precise numerical data is only available for one hour before being transferred to the chart.

Planning - In my opinion there have been some serious errors of judgement.  In particular the Datchet Parish Council and the RBWM decisions to permit the ten pitch private gypsy site on Green Belt flood plain in Horton Road, Datchet is as irrational as it is unjustifiable.  The application that was due to be considered at a Public Inquiry in September has been withdrawn and a new application submitted.

Recovery – I am concerned that failure to maintain the ditches and ordinary watercourses has delayed land drainage after the flood event.  Furthermore gravel pits surcharged with flood water extend both the location and duration of local groundwater flooding.  It should be noted that parts of Wraysbury were flooded from the first event to the second and are still very wet today.


The way forward and some possible improvements……..



Amend Jubilee River Operating Procedure

(i.e. small daytime movements only together with downstream warning)

Rebuild missing and/or damaged flood banks.

Inspect and maintain land drainage infrastructure.

Inspect and confirm other infrastructure resilience.

Support property level protection scheme.

Take action against the EA quoting HRA 1998 Articles 8 and 14.



Short term

Develop and install small local area flood protection schemes.

Resolve Jubilee River gauging, capacity and structural issues.



Medium term

Improve River Thames conveyance capacity by:-

a) Reinstating Thames dredging.

b) Re-opening (140?) blocked flood arches.

c) Re-engineering weirs and other structures.


Check river Thames levels over time

Improve river level gauging reliability.

Improve EA on-line river level data and hydrograph display.

Prepare for London flooding.



Long term


Only after the River Thames conveyance capacity has been maximised – consider need for additional parallel channels (i.e. £256m River Thames Scheme or similar).

Please note that RBWM are currently refusing to make their ‘partnership funding’ contribution.



Some supporting evidence …….. Taplow gate movements at night………




The Windsor Park (Datchet) hydrograph – with adjusted range and datum that ‘moderates’ the line and hides the Taplow effect…….



Old Windsor hydrograph – now you can see the Taplow effect….


Jubilee River – serious bank damage at Taplow……..big enough to park a bus in? 



 Jubilee River – all three gates wide open at Taplow……..check out the centre bay wave form!


Jubilee River upstream of Taplow Flow Control Structure - April 2015 - Two images -

So what's going on here? Perhaps the EA are reinforcing the Taplow Mill Leat bed?


For further details please contact me…………


Ewan Larcombe - NFPP – 10 June 2014

Tel: 01753 544302