Bewdley’s Battle Against Rising Waters

Bewdley's Battle Against Rising Waters

Like many other towns along the river Severn Valley, Bewdley, Worcestershire has battled against high water levels for decades and has flooded 100 times in the past century. In this quaint Georgian town, the Environment Agency's use of Geodesign Barriers has proven effective and protected residents against the surging river Severn, since 2002.


Location: Bewdley, Worcestershire, UK
Model: Heavy Duty
Client: Environment Agency

Like many parts of the West Midlands, Bewdley also felt the surge of the river Severn during the series of 2020 storms. In response, the Environment Agency deployed their 300m of Geodesign temporary flood barriers at Beale’s Corner on the Wribbenhall side, as they have done since 2002. The situation became dire when the river peaked, only to escalate further.

Historical records had shown Bewdley's highest river peak from a past flood. Yet, the recent event saw a surpassing of that record, marking the most significant rise in two decades. With every passing second, a staggering amount of water coursed through Bewdley, testing the might of the Geodesign barriers. Remarkably, these barriers defended up to their designed dam height.

Bewdley’s Battle Against Rising Waters – 2

Fire and Rescue personnel overseeing the temporary Geodesign flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire, as the swollen river Severn threatens the town's safety.

Despite the barriers' commendable stand, homes and streets at Beale’s corner this time faced flooding, leading to necessary evacuations. It was a testament to Geodesign Barriers' design that even when overtopped, they remained steadfast without anchorage to the tarmac ground. The barriers leverage a unique principle combining the force of the water and ground friction. Within their range, some barriers can withstand impressive dam heights and still remain resilient against overtopping.

As Bewdley tried to find its footing, the next impending storm meant that flood threats were far from over. The Environment Agency projected further flooding in the foreseeable future. In the aftermath, water was pumped from behind the barriers for thorough inspection. A collaborative examination by Geodesign Barriers staff and the Environment Agency concluded the barrier's impeccable condition.

Highlighting the gravity of the situation, the then Prime Minister, alongside the Chair of the Environment Agency, visited the site. The Prime Minister lauded the Geodesign barriers in both Bewdley and another location, terming them as “great bits of kit”. Bringing closure to a tumultuous period, the barriers were finally removed from Beale’s Corner.

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