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Middle Level Barrier Bank


This page is an extension to the section about river banks on my "features" page which it may be worth reading first.

The Ouse Washes are commonly defined as being between and including the Old Bedford/River Delph (OB/DR) on the west and the New Bedford River (NBR) or Hundred Foot Drain on the east. The OBR/DR has a high bank on its west side known as the Middle Level Barrier Bank (MLBB) and the NBR has a high bank on its eastern side known as the South Level Barrier Bank (SLBB). The barrier banks are designed to prevent over-topping of flood waters (tidal or fluvial) into the respective low-lying areas of the two "levels" as explained elsewhere on this website. The land between the two river known as washes or washland (also explained on this site) have acted as a huge floodwater storage area, often informally called a reservoir, for more than 350 years.

In 1997, a year after major works to both banks was completed by the NRA, the washes were formally registered as a Flood Storage Reservoir (FSR) under the Reservoir Act 1975. As a result, the status of the MLBB changed from being a river bank to a reservoir dam, and on the east side the low "cradge" bank on the west side of the NBR became the other dam. The NBR and SLBB are thus outside the Ouse Washes FSR and the SLBB is still just a river bank. The maintenance of the two barrier banks is therefore covered by different legislation, although presumably not to the detriment of safety.

This "new" designation seemed odd at first to some (including me) but there is sound logic. Thee OBR/DR and the floodwater on the washes are freshwater and flow in one direction, north-east. The NBR is tidal and thus saline and bi-directional. However, when cradge bank is overtopped, the flood waters are retained within the two barrier banks. Interesting to note that many EA staff still use the old definition.


The MLBB has been constantly repaired, strengthened and heightened throughout it's long history as and when deemed necessary by staff of the river authority of the time. Since registration under the 1975 act the dams have been subject to inspection under section 10 of that act by a civil engineer selected ftom a panel of experts. If an inspector's report requires remedial action, the subsequent work is termed "Section 10 works". This page is primarily concerned with the Section 10 works during 2017-2021, with some background to earlier works.


Section 10 Works, 2017-2021

Section 10 Inspection Report 2013






Notes and sources

Note detail/source