Maidenhead Heritage Centre looks back on a century of near-disaster with Flood exhibition

By Ben Miller | 02 February 2011
A photo of a long blue river under a bridge
Maidenhead Bridge has had a stormy relationship with the River Thames© Nigel Cox
Exhibition: Flood!, Maidenhead Heritage Centre, Maidenhead, February 10 – March 27 2011

The one thing you can say about Maidenhead’s fallibility for flooding is that its historic weakness has always made for dramatic pictures.

“The worst Thames flood ever recorded was in 1894, which is the starting point for this exhibition featuring several post-war floods in the Maidenhead area,” explains Richard Poad, the Chairman of Maidenhead Heritage Centre, which is looking back on more than a century of sodden Berkshire.

“The worst of these was in March 1947, when the Thames at Maidenhead was out of its banks for two weeks.”

British and American armies helped out back then, evacuating 120 people to the Town Hall. Fifty years later, the Maidenhead-Eton-Windsor Flood Alleviation Scheme began, creating a seven-mile relief channel for the River Thames which opened in 2002 and saved the town from further floods in 2003.

“Since the opening of the Jubilee River, Maidenhead itself has not flooded, but villages upstream including Cookham, Bisham and Hurley have all been affected,” adds Poad, who has brought together photos from private collections documenting the downpours.

“We’ll feature photographs from all these flooding events and caution against assuming the Jubilee River will protect Maidenhead from any flood, however severe.”
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