The Jubilee River is a hydraulic channel in southern England. It is 11.6 km (7.2 mi) long and is on average 45 metres (148 feet) wide. It was constructed in the late 1990s and early 2000s to take overflow from the River Thames and so alleviate flooding to areas in and around the towns of Maidenhead, Windsor, and Eton in the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. It achieves this by taking water from the left (at this point eastern) bank of the Thames upstream of Boulter's Lock near Maidenhead and returning it via the north bank downstream of Eton, Berkshire. Although successful in its stated aims, residents of villages downstream claim it has increased flooding.
The Environment Agency commissioned the design and construction of the river which cost £110 million. When it was formed, the channel was financially the largest man-made river project undertaken in Britain in absolute terms (not real terms), and the second largest in Europe. Principal works were creation of the channel, various flow control mechanisms and bridges for road, rail and foot traffic. One of these, Dorney Bridge, takes the channel through a 19th-century Brunel-designed railway embankment, built while the railway continued to carry arterial passenger and goods trains between London and destinations such as South Wales, Cornwall and Bristol. The Victorian tall embankment was reinforced by freezing (being "frozen")[clarification needed]; then bored through, creating a large tunnel then a concrete culvert formed-to-fit was inserted.
The channel also had to be taken through Black Potts Viaduct, which carries a branch railway to Windsor. Protective structures[clarification needed] were put in place to preserve the viaduct's structural integrity.
The channel involved complex civil engineering to deal with utility conduits, roads and railways, as well as ecological and social issues, entailing compulsory purchases, community lectures and consultations and a public enquiry. Conception to fruition took about twenty years.
Defects in parts of the engineering emerged in January 2003, a serious test of the flood-relief main purpose of the channel. The channel saw flows well short of its designed maximum flow capacity and some intended weir damage, bed and bank erosion occurred. The event prompted repairs and upgrades of £3.5 million. The Environment Agency sued their lead design consultants for recovery of the remedial costs who refunded the owner of the river £2.75 million in an out-of-court settlement.
The name used during planning was the "Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme" (MWEFAS). The choice of a name for the river was put to the local population in a poll. The result was a strong preference for 'Jubilee', as it was being completed in Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee year of 2002 and the Queen's preferred home is at Windsor Castle, in one of the three towns being protected by the scheme.
On most analyses the Jubilee River looks and acts like a natural river. Its banks have artificially constructed wildlife habitats intended to replace those lost from the banks of the Thames during urban expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries. During construction 38 hectares (94 acres) of reed beds and 5 hectares (12 acres) of wet woodland were laid down and about 250,000 trees were planted.
The river is well used by walkers, runners, swimmers, wildlife enthusiasts and cyclists: a footpath combined with National Cycle Route 61 runs along virtually its entire length. A wide variety of bird life can be seen along the river, including green woodpeckers, cormorants, lapwing and red kites.
During flooding in the early months of 2014, some residents of Ham Island (in Old Windsor) and Wraysbury said that the Jubilee River had increased the height of the flooded Thames in those villages which, along with much of the river upstream of London, saw water levels unprecedented since 1947. Wraysbury had also suffered significant flooding in 2003. The Environment Agency in the 2010s is undertaking a widening and dredging programme of Thames works to assist with downstream flows.
- Tributaries of the River Thames
- Meander cutoff
- List of rivers in England
- Waterways of the United Kingdom
- "Windsor & Eton Self Guided Walk Stage 4- Victoria Bridge to Jubilee River". Travellers Toolkit. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- C. W. Nicol (2 July 2008). "The right way to reconstruct rivers". The Japan Times online. The Japan Times Ltd. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- Environment Agency – A map indicating the location and route of the Jubilee River
- "Wraysbury residents say Jubilee River is a 'disaster'". BBC News Online. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2015-07-05.
- Charles Clover, Telegraph Environment Editor Flood maps show extra 300,000 homes are now at risk 7 October 2004
- Royal Windsor Web Site January 2003 Floods and Jubilee River Bank Collapse
- New Civil Engineer Plus EA sues designers of failed Jubilee River flood defence EMAP Construct 15 June 2006
- New Civil Engineer Plus News EMAP Construct 14 September 2006
- "The Relief Channel is Completed but is it up to it?". The Royal Windsor Web Site. Retrieved Oct 15, 2014.
- UK Rivers Guide Book Guide to the River Thames – Jubilee River
- Sky News 10 February 2014
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jubilee River.|
- Discussions and articles relating to the Jubilee River
- Information on the Jubilee River and the floods of 2003
- Information about the habitat of the Jubilee River
- National Cycle Network along the Jubilee River
|Next confluence upstream||River Thames||Next confluence downstream|
|Clewer Mill Stream (south)||Jubilee River||Colne Brook (north)|