Theories abound over source of the River Leam's mystery cable

Theories about the purpose and ownership of a mysterious cable in the River Leam have come flooding in from readers.

The most popular idea is that it is an inactive power line but another suggestion is that it was once used by a Warwick-based computer company to send data.

Warwick resident and Second World War veteran John Thornton thinks the unidentified workmen sent to repair the cable two years ago could have been scrap merchants checking to see if it was made of valuable metal.

Mr Thornton said: “During the war there was a power station near the weir at Edmonscote - I think the cable was laid either in peacetime or while the war was going on for emergencies.

“It would have been more convenient to have laid it along the riverbed rather than digging a trench.

“Divers should be sent to see where it goes or if it has been cut at both ends.”

Supporting this idea, Robert Wilkins said: “There used to be a power station at Edmonscote - I would imagine the cable ran from it. We're going back quite a few years."

One resident who has seen the cable is Tony Phillips, a former member of Leamington Sub Aqua Club who helped clean the riverbed 30 years ago and found some interesting items.

He said: “We were told at the time it was a power cable. We also found a lot of munitions and firearms which had been thrown away during the Second World War.

“There is also a Ford Popular at the Mill Park end of the river - when the level is low you can just make out its roof.”

Robin Scott of Rich Close, Warwick, has a different suggestion. He said: “I recall that a special cable was laid to IBM in Warwick, or so we council officers were told - presumably for data, possibly fibre optic. This might have been in the late 1980s.

“It followed the River Avon some of the way perhaps it had come down the Leam before that. But where from? That is still a mystery.”

The life president of Central Leamington’s Residents’ Association Eric Mallinson is hoping to trace the cable’s owner. Contact Mr Mallinson on 425920 or the Courier on 457737.

National Grid spokeswoman Jane Taylor contacted the company’s engineers who confirmed that the cable is not its property.

She said: “We think it is unlikely to be an electricity cable as electricity and water do not mix. Some of the engineers believe it is likely to be a fibre optic cable carrying data.”

Environment Agency spokeswoman Lyn Fraley confirmed it is aware of the unidentified cable.

She explained that the metal line was considered when the agency planned work which involved dragging large pieces of timber across the river.

But there were other reasons for delaying the work, including the weather at the time. She added: “We carry out river maintenance to reduce flood risk. If the maintenance work became necessary, the cable wouldn't necessarily stop us. We would carry out a risk assessment and try to trace the owner.”

BT’s operations manager for Leamington Neil Haynes said the company was not aware of the cable but offered some theories.

He said: “Whatever it is it certainly won’t be live if it is running through the river.

“The biggest problem for us would be to find the origin and destination.

“Apparently there used to be a pill box along the riverbank during the Second World War so it could be something to do with that.”

At the time of going to print IBM in Warwick had not been available to comment.

Letters, page 24