‘Woldingham Weiner’ a stop-gap to hold back future floods

There is a reason that Spring Wood at West Wickham is so called.

The rugby season at Beccehamians at Sparrows Den is pretty much over, after the playing fields were turned into an emergency floodwater storage pond this week

The rugby season at Beccehamians at Sparrows Den is pretty much over, after the playing fields were turned into an emergency floodwater storage pond this week

Playing fields at Sparrows Den, just along the road from Addington, were deliberately flooded earlier this week, creating a storage pond to protect nearby homes, and showing clearly that the threat of flooding is far from over.

In northern Surrey, from where much of the water came which flooded parts of Kenley and Purley last month, emergency engineering works have been on-going all week – by the Thames last month, Staines got its “Sausage” flood defence; now there’s the Woldingham Weiner.

Work was done to dam the Caterham Bourne almost at source last weekend, to slow and control the flow of the downland stream down to Whyteleafe, Kenley and Purley, which experienced the worst of local floods last month.

But there are well-based fears that there could be further flooding over this weekend and into next week.

Official sources yesterday issued this statement: “Groundwater levels observed in the Caterham Bourne valley near Woldingham, Kenley and Purley remain exceptionally high and are expected to remain high for several months.

“Flow is emerging near Woldingham, Caterham and Coulsdon and flowing through Whyteleafe and Kenley to Purley. Heavy rain is forecast tonight [Friday] with some more over the weekend. Flows in the bourne are likely to respond and may overtop banks in places.

There could remain a risk of flooding throughout parts of Croydon for months to come

There remains a risk of flooding throughout parts of Croydon for months to come

“Properties affected are located around the A22 Godstone Road in Whyteleafe and Kenley, Godstone Road and Brighton Road in Purley and Coulsdon.

“Flow is also emerging in Carshalton Park, flowing along Carshalton Place and through the Grove to the River Wandle. Low-lying roads and properties remain at risk of flooding throughout the area. Properties with basements are particularly at risk. Agencies are continuing to work closely with Tandridge, Croydon and Sutton Councils.”

Given that rapidly rising water levels in the Caterham Bourne were observed in early January, two to three weeks before flooding problems were discovered downstream in southern parts of Croydon, then the situation at places like Woldingham needs careful monitoring to forewarn of issues in the valley.

The "Woldingham Weiner", holding back water and flooding a farmer's field, rather than allow it to flow down to Whyteleafe and beyond

The “Woldingham Weiner”, holding back water and flooding a farmer’s field, rather than allow it to flow down to Whyteleafe and beyond

Water levels behind Whyteleafe Station have been falling, leaving behind a lot of nasty sludge and foul smells. Contractors are on site, working for Thames Water, spraying disinfectant over the car park there.

This work is expected to go on for several months, and continue along the length of the Godstone Road all the way to Purley to try to prevent the spread of any water-carried infections.

Private contractors are taking an increasing role in the clean-up and realignment of flood defences, as Surrey County Council now use the Army effectively as free labour to shift tons of sand bags around various sites.

Fields, grazing areas and private land is being utilised by Surrey Highways service to create new drainage ditches and storage ponds.

But this is all temporary work, and offers little by way of a permanent solution to flooding issues that Thames Water and other authorities have been well aware of since previous floods a decade ago.

  • Who to call if you are experiencing problems with water or sewage as a result of flooding
  • Environment Agency Floodline – 0345 988 1188
  • Croydon Council for highways management such as blocked gullies – 020 8726 6000 option 1
  • Thames Water is responsible for sewage – 0845 9200 800
  • Sutton and East Surrey Water is responsible for the provision of fresh drinking water – 24hr Emergency Line – 01737 772000

Coming to Croydon


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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