Flood warning system for Kenilworth’s ford coming ‘within next two weeks’

The ford in Castle Road
The ford in Castle Road

A system designed to warn drivers when the ford in Castle Road in Kenilworth becomes flooded is set to be installed within the next two weeks according to Warwickshire County Council engineers.

The system, which costs £52,000 and will comprise of four warning signs was tentatively set to be completed by November, but engineers’ access to the power supply was slightly delayed meaning the installation was pushed back.

The system should stop people from ploughing on through the ford because it’s got the early warning signs which should divert people before they get there.

Cllr John Whitehouse

It will comprise of four signs, one on Warwick Road, one on Castle Road by Forrest Road, one on the Castle Hill and Castle Road junction, and one on Beehive Hill. The Warwick Road and Beehive Hill signs will divert drivers, while the Castle Road signs will inform drivers the ford is impassable.

The signs will not discriminate between high or low levels of water, and are designed to advise drivers rather than force them to turn back.

In an interview in October, Warwickshire County Councillor John Whitehouse said: “You can’t always say that the ford will flood every winter, but when it does it causes quite serious congestion and causes long journeys through the town.

“The system should stop people from ploughing on through the ford because it’s got the early warning signs which should divert people before they get there.”

Concerns have been raised over whether a warning system is the best solution to the problem of the flooding ford. A Kenilworth resident who prefers not to be identified has questioned the suitability of the grill designed to prevent debris from getting stuck in the culvert underneath the ford.

The spacing between the bars on the grill may not be wide enough to allow harmless debris to flow through.

It accumulated a large amount of debris last weekend during a period of wet weather and blocked the flow, which artificially raised the upstream water level. The grill is currently cleared of debris by Warwick District Council once a month.

According to a report by the Environment Agency in 2009 on trash and security screens, the gap between the bars on a grill should be as wide as possible while still being able to catch debris that would cause a blockage in a culvert.

However, when the plans for installing a warning system were first mooted in 2014, alternative options such as raising the road or building a bridge were deemed unsuitable as both would restrict the free flow of water.

Many Kenilworth residents also feel the ford is an important local feature and should remain.