Woodbridge Town Council

mobile menu button
Home > News > Whisstocks floodgate - Update

Whisstocks floodgate - Update

4 December 2019

Share this article:share on twitter share on facebook

The Whisstocks floodgate is currently closed following damage to the hydraulic winch used to pull the gate open and closed. 

Rather than risk the winch failing altogether and leaving Whisstocks Place and the surrounding buildings prone to flooding, the decision was taken to keep the gate closed until a new winch could be sourced. Our supplies have now provided costs for the replacement winch and associated works and training required, and Town Council will debate this on Tuesday 10th December.

We hope to have the gate open as soon as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused.   

The following is part of an article published on this website in August 2018 which gives more information about the operation and specifics of the floodgate;

We have had several queries regarding the operation of the floodgate at Whisstocks Place during its recent closure. This notice will attempt to answer questions that have been raised about its operation.IMG 0411

Woodbridge Town Council was not involved in the specifications for the gate nor in its design, construction or installation. It is not automated, not electrified and has to be closed and opened manually. This operation is carried out by a team of qualified engineers from Suffolk Coastal Norse on our behalf using a battery operated hydraulic winch, cables and other equipment they have to transport to Whisstocks Place each time the gate has to be closed or opened.

Closure and then opening of the floodgate is undertaken on the instruction of the Environment Agency as the statutory body who issues severe weather, high tide and flood warnings. It is not a decision made by Woodbridge Town Council but a decision with which we are legally bound to comply.

Every floodgate individually has a ‘trigger level’ at which it must be closed depending on its level above the ‘local high water mark’. The Whisstocks floodgate is the lowest floodgate in Woodbridge so is the first to be ordered to be closed. The floodgate next to it on Tide Mill Way is approximately 4 feet higher than the Whisstocks floodgate so will frequently be open when our floodgate has been ordered to be closed.

IMG 0438The floodgate itself is 11 metres long and weighs 3.5 metric tons. To close the gate and ensure its integrity against flooding takes a minimum of 45 minutes after all the winches, cables etc have been connected and secured in position. This process involves securing a battery operated hydraulic winch to the ground, attaching a high tension cable to the floodgate and dragging it closed. It then needs a pneumatic seal around the sides and bottom of the floodgate to be inflated under pressure to ensure the floodgate is watertight.

For health and safety reasons, members of the public need to be kept well clear of the area when the floodgate is being opened or closed.

Working with the Environment Agency, Woodbridge Town Council has in place contingency emergency plans to deal with a partial or complete failure in the operation of the floodgate. This includes having arrangements with a local company to hold on our behalf and to deliver and install in an emergency such as an exceptional tide or tidal surge 135 x 1 ton bags of sand to block the 11 metre opening. 

To watch a time lapse video of the floodgate being closed please click here.