Beavers help with Finchingfield's 'worst flood in 20 years'

Flooding in Finchingfield village

Finchingfield flooding on January 14. - Credit: Archie Ruggles-Brise

Four beavers in Finchingfield have been credited with limiting the first flood of the year - the most water the village has experienced in 20 years. 

Archie Ruggles-Brise, manager at Finchingfield’s Spains Hall Estate, said Woody and Willow and their two kits born last year contributed to the January 14 flood disappearing the next day. The beavers are part of a local natural flood protection scheme. And although it led to more water in the family’s enclosure, they coped well with the challenge. 

Flooding in Finchingfield village

Finchingfield flooding on January 14. - Credit: Archie Ruggles-Brise

Mr Ruggles-Brise said: “I think the beavers contributed to limit the problems.  

“They build their dams. Water is something they love. They are in their element. They are creating dams and lodges and cutting trees to do all this. They are probably the happiest beings out there at the moment.”  

“They are perfectly capable of dealing with it, the water wouldn't wash them away.”   

Flooding in Finchingfield village

Finchingfield flooding on January 14. - Credit: Archie Ruggles-Brise

He said although there was a storm and a flood at Christmas, this was more serious.  

He added: “I don't remember it being as bad since the 2001 floods. Every 10 to 20 years something big and problematic happens.   

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“We are seeing more extreme rainfall and drought events which I would attribute to changing climate.   

Flooding in Finchingfield village

The first Finchingfield flooding in 2021 was on January 14. - Credit: Archie Ruggles-Brise

“I don't have any confidence that we won't have any of this much sooner.”  

He said rapid rainfall overwhelmed the river channel.  

“It flooded the green and the pond and threatened low houses nearby. A lot of the roads were flooded which meant that people couldn't get around. The floods may have also affected the crops by preventing them from growing.”  

Beaver at Finchingfield's Spains Hall Estate

A family of four beavers in Finchingfield's Spains Hall Estate has been helping limit the effects of flooding. - Credit: Russell Savory

Mr Ruggles-Brise said there is a limit to what natural solutions can achieve, but that they are the best option for the village. 

Lifelong Finchingfield resident Simon Linsell-Clark said flooding had been a problem since he was a child and had been a problem across the 20th century.

He shared these pictures from his personal collection.

"Flooding was an accepted part of life in Finchingfield. 

"My grandfather used to work in the butcher's shop next to the Iron Bridge with the flood gates, and it got flooded." 

Finchingfield flood in 1958

Finchingfield flood in 1958. - Credit: Simon Linsell-Clark

Finchingfield flood in 1958

Finchingfield flood in 1958 - Credit: Simon Linsell-Clark


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