Between Monday 14 and Thursday 29 August 2023, Thames Water will be conducting what a recent letter describes as “the final stages” of the long-running project to improve the sewer network in the area. This will involve a closure of Newbury Road (aka the valley road or the bottom road) in East Garston between the junction with Front Street by the Queens Arms to some point on the east (Shefford) side of the junction with Humphreys Lane.
Direct access from Shefford to Eastbury on the valley road will not be possible between these dates but the Queens Arms will open as usual. Vehicular access to the Queens Arms will be from Lambourn direction, as the works progress vehicular parking will be in the pub’s overflow car park, with pedestrian access available at all times, any changes to this will be signed on site.
As part of this process, Thames Water will be employing tankers 24/7 from Monday 21 August up to the conclusion of the work. This may also result in further delays.
The official diversion route is via Hungerford Hill to the top road (both B4000) and the A338. See the OneNetwork map (being sure to use the toggle on the top left to select the right date period). This should be clearly signed on the roadsides.
Last time this happened, the number 4 bus was, as a result of public pressure, diverted not along the B4000 but through East Garston (via Rogers Lane, Back Street and Front Street) with a stop at the Village Hall. We contacted Newbury Buses on 7 August and this is also the plan this time.
The reason for for these repairs is well known. Decades of under-investment, increased development and the more recent extreme weather events caused by climate change have placed the system under increasing strain. In this area, the problem is compounded by the pipes running through areas of groundwater which, when the water levels are high, causes water to flow in through the cracks in the pipes and overloading the system.
Thames Water has performed a number of re-lining and replacement works over the last couple of years and this is expected to mark the conclusion of the project in the Upper Lambourn Valley. It won’t be possible to judge the success or otherwise of the measures until the new arrangements have been tested by a prolonged period of high groundwater levels.
More information about water and sewage issues in the area is provided by the East Garston Flood and Pollution Forum and the Lambourn Valley Flood Forum. More information can be found here, including onward links and how to sign up to receive newsletters. This post will also be updated to reflect any new information.