10 years on: How heavy rain left West Berks in floods of tears
Reporter Charlotte Booth looks back at the devastation caused by the flood waters
A DECADE ago last week West Berkshire was hit by devastating floods after months’ worth of rain fell in a matter of hours.
Thatcham was among the worst affected areas, but no part of the region escaped unscathed.
Stables and houses were under water in Lambourn, where 20 racehorses needed to be evacuated.
The River Lambourn burst its banks at Bagnor for the first time in living memory, turning the village into an island and forcing The Watermill theatre to close.
The Sulham brook in Pangbourne also flooded its banks, with additional concerns at the time that the River Thames would follow.
Elsewhere, 140 stranded schoolchildren and 25 staff had to be rescued from waist-high water at Aldermaston Primary School by boat.
They were taken to Aldermaston Parish Hall and provided with blankets and sleeping bags.
More than 2,000 staff were also evacuated at Vodafone’s head offices in Newbury.
They waded through deep water as their ornamental lake burst its banks, flooding the site.
Hundreds of homes across the region sustained thousands of pounds worth of damage and at least 400 homes had to be evacuated as the floodwaters closed in.
Such events always seem bring out the ‘best of British’ and everyone rallied around to help.
Teenagers Melissa Dixon and Leigh Reed dived into floodwaters to rescue a drowning boy near The Swan pub in Station Road, Thatcham.
Miss Dixon, of Wordsworth Road, Thatcham, said at the time: “Two boys waded in.
“One of them managed to clamber back out, but the other boy got into difficulty and began screaming for help.”
She and the then 17-year-old Mr Reed, of Mayfield Road, Thatcham, swam out to the boy.
Revellers on their way to the Glade Festival at the Wasing Estate didn’t let the water dampen their fun – and many danced into the night, standing knee-deep in foul-smelling mud.
Leaving the festival, however, wasn’t easy as many of the approach roads were flooded and cars at the venue were stuck in the mud.
Tractor drivers charged £5 to tow them out so they could get on their way.
Robin Crane, from Midland Fire & Protection, said: “We arranged for specialised low-level pumping equipment to be sent to the festival, as our Berkshire colleagues were inundated with calls elsewhere.”
To add to the chaos, the M4 was flooded and further exacerbated by a landslip, forcing the closure of two lanes which left traffic at a standstill.
Additionally, the A34 was shut for eight hours and the Chieveley junction with the M4 was closed after a pumping station flooded, creating three-hour delays.
Since then, precautions have been taken to ensure that flooding on this scale is not repeated.