The time has passed now, but I’d intended to blog on the anniversary of the flood last year. The contrast between the river now and then is quite ridiculous. Unfortunately I never managed to take a pic of the river when it was at its height last year, but I would estimate it reached close to twelve feet. Might not sound like a lot, but currently it is trickling lazily over the river-bed rocks at a depth of about one inch. Seems impossible that it could ever be so fast-moving, so dangerous.
It happened on July 7th, a notorious date for many reasons. This year it was the day Andy Murray won Wimbledon and as the river dried up under the constant sun, most of Stockbridge was silent in front of TVs willing on Andy to win that trophy.
The culprit for the flood last year was the unfinished flood wall. A work that’s been in progress for a few years now. The small bridge (Bell’s Bridge) over the Water of Leith has now been re-opened at last and I was struck by the changes to the view. I have a photo taken in 2008 before the work started and one taken the other day.
With sun flattering the scene, the photo is kind to the wall. I like that they have finished the wall with a traditional brick-look, even if I know it’s concrete with massive pile-driven metal foundations inside. Other than that it seems terribly brutal; a monolithic wall. Hopefully some vegetation will eventually cover up the harder-looking parts of the wall and soften its appearance.
The wall is there to do a job, and if it prevents a future flood then I can make my peace with the destruction that’s been done to the river bank. Wildlife is returning and parts of the bank are growing in this hot summer. It will of course take a few years, but I can’t help feel my heart sink when I see the stumps where great trees once grew, and unending grim concrete where once a characterful Victorian wall stood, and for the most part resisted flood many years later. There is no doubt it needed repairing and strengthening, rebuilding in places, but I wonder how much this major construction project needed to happen. Mixed emotions over it. I certainly don’t want to see a scene outside my door again like the one in the photograph at the top of the post.