Sometimes making sense of watercourses after the urban area has encroached upon them is not that straightforward, developers and railway engineers can confuse apparent flows in a way that make deciphering a stream’s courses a little tricky. This is one such example.
This is a stream that fooled me – I had originally thought that this stream had gained length when suburbanisation arrived and had been taken on a geographically plausible, although unlikely, detour around the edge of two railway embankments to join the Quaggy in Chinbrook Meadows. There was even the sound of subterranean running water just to confuse matters – it was probably just a drain …..
The source of my of confusion had been the Environment Agency referring to the outflow in Chinbrook Meadows as Grove Park Ditch, whereas the real Grove Park Ditch is, entirely separate, and, a few hundred metres to the east. It was only when I started tracing Border Ditch that I realised their, and my, error.
Anyway, back to this small, unnamed stream …..
Its source seems to have been a pond, or the ground just above it, at the junction of what is now Leamington Avenue and Portland Road – the little bit of blue on the Ordnance Survey map published in 1898. The stream’s route is clear from the Environment Agency Flood Risk maps, when the surface water option is selected – it is the thin blue line to the bottom right of the map.
The course is probably no more than 200 metres long, the upstream pointing contour lines of the modern 1:25,000 OS map show it heading from its original source (the left hand picture above), towards the Quaggy’s original course – behind Leamington Avenue, roughly following a now largely overgrown track to garages behind the houses (middle picture), then crossing Leamington Close, still under a track to garages (right hand photo above), to join the Quaggy behind where Oak Tree Gardens are now situated.
The Quaggy too was diverted underground in this area when the houses were built, there is a clear dip in Leamington Avenue (top photo immediately above) and its new submerged course is topped by another access track to garages. Oddly, above where the confluence occurs there was a large puddle (above, lower photo), I did plan to take a slightly closer look but dogs barking on the private land as I approached rather deterred me – a less than intrepid explorer.
This stream ought to have a name now that it has been re-discovered – I would suggest the appellation Leamington Ditch for it –It needs to be a Ditch – it is the usual nomenclature for small streams around here. However, Leamington merely comes from the street it runs parallel to for its short course – so would be happy for others to offer alternatives to whoever the appropriate arbiter for Ditch names.
An finally … thank you to Lawrence Beale Collins of Thames21 for helping me with unpicking the two very different Grove Park Ditches.