Immediately after the war and the disastrous country-wide floods of 1947 the priorities were increased food and dairy production and flood prevention. Within the next 20 years the priorities had become water quality and wildlife habitats, necessary, but in competition with each other. English rivers were being likened to canals, and previously strengthened river banks were being weakened by animals nesting. Welcomed, was the Fish Hatchery at Holme Wrangle, and, of course the improved quality of river water.
A new generation of engineers failed, for whatever reason, perhaps lack of finance or changing theories, to use historic methods of river maintenance which prioritised flood prevention such as the construction of Gravel Traps which were dug by excavators, generally around bridges, at intervals along fast-flowing mountain streams to catch rocks and silt carried down swollen rivers during winter time, and cleared annually. I remember walking along the River Eden around the Memorial Bridge in Carlisle a year or two ago, and saw that a great river had become a meandering weed-blocked stream, Rickerby Park resembled a water meadow.
In the 1967 flood, Newman School, with its sunken Assembly Hall, was flooded before completion, and after those floods the first flood bank was constructed for the Petteril and the Eden, but these things are always built to a price,and maintenance is costly, and vital.
For my husband and his colleagues, and no doubt the local representatives on the Environment Agency, the changes in strategy and policy was disheartening. Available finance had to cover so many management issues and public demands, and old fashioned and successful Dutch methods of flood prevention were to a great extent abandoned.
On hearing gossip (I don't know if it was true) that the bed of the Eden was a metre higher than it used to be, there seemed to be little point in raising the flood bank by a metre and expecting improved protection after the 2005 flood.
Building continues on flood plains throughout the country. Environment Agencies have a right to voice their concerns at Planning Applications, but their concerns do not have to be acted upon. Flood plain land is, I suppose, cheap and planning permission more easily obtained, especially in areas liable to flooding.
My husband's hope and suggestions were for either small reservoirs or constructed small lakes from the watershed an source of the Eden around Mallerstang to slow it down and continued dredging of the river and regular clearing of surface water drains in Carlisle, and while nothing would have prevented the latest flood, other worrying winter periods would have passed without warnings.
I am writing this letter to you because I have TWICE BEEN A VICTIM OF EDEN RIVER FLOODING IN THE LAST TEN YEARS AND HAVE TWICE HAD TO LEAVE MY HOME, HAVING HAD FAITH THAT RIVER MAINTENANCE WOULD ONCE AGAIN BE RETURNED TO TRIED AND TESTED METHODS, AS WOULD REGULAR SURFACE WATER DRAINAGE
This lady has asked to remain anonymous. If you work out who she is from the text please respect her wishes.