Sunday, 13 December 2015

Ovingham bridge

Water is an amazing thing. It comes out of our taps and showers under our control and at whatever temperature we want. It changes form - from liquid to ice to snow, fog and mist. In our summer streams it trickles over stones and forms golden pools and sometimes, if the weather is very warm for an extended period, the supply dries up and disappears. But too much of it is devastating. Click on the pics to the right and see the devastation the flood leaves behind in its wake once it has roared by.

We are lucky that we live in an area with a Tyne Catchment

3,000 square mile catchment area so we have never yet experienced the drought conditions that so regularly affect the south of England. The water takes five hours to travel from Alston to Newcastle, which is not a great deal of time to prepare for flood conditions. Usually it is a swift rise in levels, lasts for perhaps half a day and then subsides. But by then it has done its terrible work.

On the right you see the Victorian bridge between Ovingham and Prudhoe. Built in 1883, it is one carriage width wide and causes traffic queues even when it is open. It has been closed for refurbishment since June 2014 so that the iron structure can be repaired if necessary.

Eighteen months of work completed, coupled with eighteen months of frustration and lost business for the residents on either side of the river, it opened briefly on 3rd December and then closed again because the floods knocked the hell out of the scaffolding. They're waiting for normal river levels before they'll check for damage/safety.  £3 million has been spent on the bridge - so far. I expect the bridge itself is OK. At the peak of past floods, traffic has been forbidden, but when the waters recede the bridge has been ready for business again. The workmen now have a dismal job of removing the scaffolding, boards around the struts and all the accumulated rubbish. Twigs, branches, tree trunks, doors, plastic buckets and probably a dead sheep or two.

Whose to say it won't happen again if it keeps on raining? We had snow for three or four hours yesterday....

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