Jubilee River

Jubilee River

The Jubilee River is a hydraulic channel in southern England. It is 11.6 kilometres in length, and was constructed in the late 1990s and early 2000s to take overflow from the River Thames and so alleviate flooding to areas in and around the towns of Maidenhead, Windsor, and Eton in the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. It achieves this by allowing excess water to be taken via the east bank of the Thames upstream of Boulter's Lock near Maidenhead and returned via the north-east bank downstream of Eton.

The river was built by the Environment Agency at a cost of £110 million. At the time of its formation the channel represented the largest man-made river project ever undertaken in Britain, and the second largest in Europe. In addition to creation of the channel itself and its various flow control mechanisms, the scheme involved the construction of many bridges for road, rail and foot traffic; one of which, Dorney Bridge, included providing the means of taking the river through a nineteenth-century Brunel railway embankment while it continued to carry main line trains to and from London and Bristol. This delicate work to infrastructure considerably more than a century old was made possible by a process known as "jacked box tunnelling", in which a pre-formed concrete culvert 165 ft long, 75 ft wide and 31 ft high was moved through the pre-frozen embankment behind boring machines, to become Britain's largest example of this type of tunnel.A further requirement was to take the river through another Victorian structure, Black Potts Viaduct, which forms part of the railway line built to take Queen Victoria's royal train almost up to the gates of Windsor Castle. This work called for substantial protective structures to be put in place in order to preserve the structural integrity of the viaduct.

The new river constitutes a highly complex civil engineering accomplishment which embraced many technical, ecological and social issues; including extensive compulsory purchases, community involvement and a public enquiry. Conception to fruition took roughly twenty years.

However, considerable defects in the engineering were soon exposed when a major flood event occurred in January 2003, necessitating the first serious use of the channel. The channel could only operate well short of the flow capacity that it should have been designed to take, yet nevertheless weir failure and substantial bed/bank erosion still occurred. These issues resulted in a substantial programme of repair and associated upgrading, costing approximately £3.5 million. The Environment Agency sued the lead design consultants for recovery of those remedial costs, and an out-of-court settlement of £2.75 million was agreed.

The choice of a name for the river was put to the local population in the form of a poll. The result was a strong preference for 'Jubilee', as it was being completed in Queen Elizabeth's golden jubilee year of 2002 and as Her Majesty's preferred home is at Windsor Castle, in one of the three towns being protected by the scheme.

Despite being man-made, the Jubilee River looks and acts like a natural river. Its banks offer many varieties of wildlife specially-constructed habitats, intended to act as replacements for those habitats lost from the banks of the Thames during urban expansion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

External links

* [http://www.jubileeriver.co.uk Discussions and articles relating to the Jubilee River]
* [http://www.thamesweb.co.uk/floodrelief/ Information on the Jubilee River and the floods of 2003]
* [http://birdsofberkshire.co.uk/Jubilee%20River.htm Information about the habitat of the Jubilee River]
* [http://jubilee-river.co.uk A comprehensive history of the Jubilee River]
* [http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/regions/thames/323150/335688/1200490/1200529/ Environment Agency Details of Jubilee River]
* [http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/acrobat/jubileerivermap_1200567.pdf Environment Agency - A map indicating the location and route of the Jubilee River]
* [http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/acrobat/masterplan_1200567_1200559.pdf Environment Agency - Plan illustrating the main features of the Jubilee River, including structures, surrounding roads and car parks]

ee also

*List of rivers in England
*Waterways of the United Kingdom


Two references for validation of out-of-court settlement removed 27 June 2008, as the provider ('New Civil Engineer') no longer displays the information on the Web.

River item line|upstream=Clewer Mill Stream (south)
downstream=River Colne (north)

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