The March walk will be a wander along the Huntspill River or Drain. We can’t actually walk on the river bank because it is fenced off, (very deep water) but we will walk along the roadway from the car park, which is on the right, just off the A38, immediately before the bridge that goes over the river. We will walk to the Huntspill Sluice where water from the Levels is let out into the River Parrett. A salt marsh has been developed by making a cut in the river bank to help spread flood water when levels are high. For those who want to, we can stop at The Pimpernel pub in West Huntspill for light refreshments (and toilets!) on the way home. If you would like to join us, let us know and we will let them know nearer the time roughly how many and they will open up at about 11:30 a.m. instead of 12 noon. The full menu will be available.
Some information about the Huntspill River.
It was constructed in 1940 as part of the construction of the (then secret) Royal Ordnance Factory being built at Puriton. The factory required a guaranteed daily supply of 4.5 million gallons. The Engineer tasked with providing this came up with the idea of combining a storage reservoir with drainage.
A 5 mile channel was cut through the coastal clay belt from Gold Corner to the Parrett estuary. At Gold Corner it was connected to South Drain. Retention sluices were placed at both ends, thus creating a water storage and drainage system. During summer months the water in the reservoir could be topped up with water from South Drain via pumping at Gold Corner and during winter months surplus water could be drained into the Parrett estuary.
The initial design was for a channel 25 ft deep to allow a gravitational feed from South Drain. Unfortunately, the spoil from the excavations was too heavy for the peat subsoil and pushed the banks back into the channel. A new scheme was devised with a 16 ft deep channel which required water from South Drain to be pumped into the channel. Prisoners of war were used to do various works at this time.
The pumps in the new pumping station constructed are still in use today with 1 being electrified in 1968. The 2 pumps have the ability to pump 1100 gallons per minute. A big problem became apparent when flood water was let through the Parrett sluice. The drop from the outfall to low tide level proved to be too much for the shale bed of the Estuary. A very large hole resulted and something would have to be done to prevent it getting deeper. The solution was to fill the hole with concrete road blocks, static water tanks and other heavy invasion relics. It worked! The discharge now flows into the Parrett Estuary over a flattish ramp of heavy material which was levelled out by the rush of the discharges of flood water. Also the solution took care of lots of unwanted material. The Huntspill River is a National Nature Reserve.