Newcomers to Winterbourne Stoke are often surprised to find we are in a flood alert area, especially given the size of the River Till. Oddly enough we are in a very unusual flood area and the River Till catchment is often studied in university hydrology courses as a classical example of upland flooding. Often, this isn’t just caused by the river overspilling its banks, but by rising groundwater as well. That is why we keep an eye on both the rainfall over the winter period and the groundwater levels in the nearest monitored catchment area (Tilshead) to see how both the river and the ground are coping.
The most notorious flood on the River Till happened in 1841, when heavy rain, falling on frozen ground, over an already sodden catchment, caused a torrent of water to rush down the Till valley, taking people and buildings with it. You can read a contemporary newspaper account here and there are several websites that be found by searching for “till flood 1841”
Now that was a very unusual event and we don’t want to be alarmist, but less serious floods do occur from time to time. It is best to be prepared and one way you can do this for yourself is to register for the Environment Agency Flood Alert scheme. You can also keep an eye on these pages to get an idea of what is going on.