Introduction from John Russell
Surface water drainage in the main section of Barlaston West relies on the brook that passes between 31 Old Road and the Meadow Court flats. The Barlaston brook rises near the crossroads and Orchard Place shopping centre. It is enclosed in a culvert that drains the Meadow Road and Old Road areas and passes under Old Road in two smaller culverts. Water then passes through an open boundary stream to the River Trent.
All the highway drains appear to be connected and water enters the brook from all directions through a large concrete system at the base of the oak tree. Over the years changes to transportation saw many gardens paved over to provide car parking spaces. Surface water exits on the highways or domestic drains, all of which add to the volume of water that must get into the stream through five road gullies that are usually blocked by silt and grids choked with road and vegetation debris. It is difficult to know how often these drains are cleared but it could be as little as one visit per year. When Amey took over the contract the visits were much more frequent and it now appears that the response time for urgent attention is about two weeks – if you are lucky! In spite of using private property to carry highway water away through the Yockerton, Brookhouse and Barlaston brooks there does not seem to be any Highways policy to check on the culverts under the road relying on the property owners to clear any debris that could cause blockages and obstruction of road traffic when ponding occurs. The Brookhouse and Yockerton culverts are on the boundary between the City and County, which complicates the matter even further, but the frequent surface water problems by the Old Road Garage and the former Meaford Power station show little action by either authority.
Foul water from east and west Barlaston passes through a deep drainage pipe along Station Road and Old Road to the same point and turns parallel to the stream and then carries the sewage to Strongford works.
The deep drainage scheme was installed after persistent sewage overflows in the Whitethorn area because the housing adjacent to the canal is lower than the canal and Meaford Road. A further deep drain was installed later, along Meaford Road, to deal with sewage from houses built below road level.
The system capacity is adequate in most weather situations but cannot cope with very heavy rain such as the three inches of rain that fell, in a few hours, on August 12 2020. Many of the houses built after the war still has roof guttering that empties in to the foul water drains. The system is overwhelmed with the combined sewage outfall and starts to back up as the water fills the pipes to Strongford. Meadow Court flats are the lowest point and then 40, Old Road. If there is an overflow pipe at Meadow Court, that channels excess sewage to the adjacent stream, it clearly did not work in this incident, and caused a serious contamination of the basement of the complex.
The Barlaston Brook was culverted in 1968 after the open brook was frequently used as a rubbish dump. Items and garden refuse blocked the two culverts under Old Road. The “Bungalow”, later No. 40 was regularly flooded and an inspection chamber was built in the drive to make sure the road culverts remained clear. The culvert is made of concrete pipes that are not sealed and allow surface water to drain through the gaps. Unfortunately tree roots can seek water through the gaps and over the years have taken up much of the capacity. Litter from street drains catches on the roots and seriously restricts flow further, resulting in flooding of gardens which may lead to properties flooding unless the culvert is regularly maintained. There is no record of maintenance except by landowners who have found that because the pipe is so large, drainage rods bend and cannot force through compacted roots. Only a commercial jetter with a root cutter device is likely to clear the culvert which requires close vehicular access and inspection chambers. It seems fairly clear that maintenance of the culvert is the responsibility of the landowners. This is complicated by shared ownership, the number of properties along Meadow Road and Old Road, and the use of the stream as the boundary between them. If a jetting vehicle cannot be used the only option is the creation of a number of inspection chambers enabling manual clearance.
The restriction in the culvert, however, reduces the volume of water downstream, as does the diversion of outflow from the field north of Brookhouse Drive which now empties through the Brookhouse Brook around Nursery Gardens. This does, however, reduce maximum flow so severe ponding in Old Road can be reduced by highway water draining through my driveway if the road drains are blocked.
The railway line is on a significant embankment through most of the Parish and impedes natural drainage. There are two visible cuttings beneath the track and possibly others north of Station Road but only one to the south through the tunnel near Meaford canal bridge. There appears to be evidence of drainage pipes from near or under the canal, that are probably blocked, which originally drained areas near the railway line but possibly the railway constructers used the canal as the drain which explains the overflow compounds beside the towpath.
The Trent and Mersey canal has brick lined culverts under the canal bed for each of the major streams to protect the canal from surface water flows. It is presumed they are regularly inspected by the Canal and River Trust as they have access gates installed. South of Station Road there are very few indications of any natural brooks which may be the reason that in severe weather, Station Road becomes a stream and causes ponding near the rail crossing.
The Barlaston Park estate was most affected by subsidence from mining. Many of the properties were damaged and the capacity of the relatively modern sewage and drainage pipes was reduced. The sewage system relies upon a pipe that crosses the Wedgwood Factory Estate which was fortunately upgraded before the company changed ownership but the surface water problem is complicated by the unadopted status of Lakewood Drive. Parts of Upper Barlaston were also seriously affected by subsidence but appear to have been restored satisfactorily.
The greatest Barlaston Flood so far! Pictures are appearing of the floods around the area on Wednesday 12, August 2020.
A rain gauge in Barlaston Park recorded 78.8mm, just over 3 inches, during the 24 hour period. Continuous thunderstorms with spectacular lighting provided enough light to help emergency work around 20.30 hours.
Surface water on the Old Road led to the highest ponding level ever seen at the dip between 31 and 40 Old Road.
Vehicles got through the water but bow waves from fast driving forced water into 40 Old Road drive and garden.
The planks covering the inspection chamber in the driveway of 40 Old Road were too close together and fir cones from garden trees and other litter floated down and sealed the remaining gaps.
Removing one plank was like pulling the bath plug and water surged into the brook but then carried everything movable into the hole. Fortunately the two culverts beneath the road were clear and able to cope with the water and went into the stream between 31 Old Road and Meadow Court and safely down to the River Trent.
Fortunately this action saved the house from flooding but it was reported that a least one house was flooded in Pear Tree Close and Whitethorn as surface water around the cross roads could not drain away fast enough. The stream running from Orchard Place that drains the Meadow Road and Old Road is blocked with tree roots. Gardens were flooded leaving mud everywhere and Meadow Road was awash.
The Brookhouse brook was exceptionally high and assistance from neighbours with bags of compost prevented a house flooding at Nursery Gardens.
Raw sewage became an issue to the lowest lying properties as the sewer pipe to Strongford water treatment works backed up. Meadow Court flats experienced serious overflows in the bin area requiring a clean-up crew to protect residents. Raw sewage in 40 Old Road garden was also seen but overflowed mainly into the stream.
The four main streams draining Barlaston through Barlaston West to the River Trent are, from North to South:- the Yockerton Brook which disappears into the sewage works. The Brookhouse Brook that drains the Wedgwood Pools and now the pop-up lake behind Brook House that was diverted around Nursery Gardens. The Barlaston Brook that drains the area around Orchard Place, Brookhouse Drive, Meadow Road, Old Road and probably the railway areas. The Meaford Brook rises near the Church, passes through the railway bridge, under the canal and on to the Trent near to the Golf Club.
In the 1980s the problems of sewage and surface water was thought to be solved by replacing the main drainage pipes from the Green , Station Road down Old Road. A deep drainage system was cut into the sandstone from the Crossroads to Meadow Court. When Barlaston West was expanded after WW2 shortage of building materials was a problem. Asbestos fibre pipes were used but collapsed over time. Severn Trent carried out the deep drainage system and later installed sewage pipes along Meaford Road to deal with the hollow between the canal embankment and the ridge running along Park Drive. The stability of the canal embankment is crucial to many of us in Barlaston West. Any breach in the canal could lead to massive flooding. Any sign of a weakness in the tow path should be reported immediately to the Canal Authority.
On Friday and Saturday 25/26 2019 more than 2 inches of rain fell on Barlaston. More than 4 inches fell on Hereford so we missed that by just 50 miles.
Several houses in the Meadow Road area were very close to flooding. This is because a drain that runs between Old Road and Meadow Road is severely blocked by tree roots that have not been cleared out since at least, 1975.
It is not clear where this drain starts but very early maps show it could be from Orchard Place. We know the drain runs below the little bridge on the alleyway between Old Road and Meadow Road with other streams connecting to it.
The drain was just an open brook in the 1950s but regular flooding of No.40 Old Road, where the stream passes under the road into a brook alongside Meadow Court, caused the local authority to culvert the stream in large concrete pipes which were then covered over and forgotten.
70 year old residents remember playing in the stream in the 1950’s before the Orchard Road shops were built but are too young to remember the culvert being installed and where it went.
Can readers ask 80 year old residents what they remember of this and where the pipes were installed?
Any residents in this area can help by looking for inspection chambers that allow access on their land.
Any one with title deeds containing maps of their landholding are asked to check on any drainage information.
Please pass on this mail to anyone with relatives who grew up in post war Barlaston.