Flood remedy, maybe, but not yet

High tides in the past have left Strand Quay and Winchelsea Rd all but submerged - but they are part of the A259 and a strategic road network

This coming week is likely to see some of the highest tides for a while and we can expect to see water lapping over the grass at Strand Quay and invading parts of the Wednesday market. Nothing particularly unusual in this and certainly the water is not expected to reach the levels of 2013, when the night time high tide, raised still further following weather conditions causing a tidal surge up the Channel, was lapping at the closed flood gates.

Nevertheless, these occasional very high tides can cause problems. Quite apart from a market trader or two getting their feet wet, they invariably cause a flood across the top end of Winchelsea Road close to the point where it crosses the River Tillingham. This has, not unnaturally caused concern to the neighbouring houses, many of which have habitable rooms below the level of the road.

Complaints have been made in the past but because the road is an ‘A’ road it is not a local council responsibility but that of Highways England, complaints have taken time to filter up to them – not helped, probably by a change of name from the Highways Agency. However finally, an answer has been received and we reproduce the relevant part of it here:

“A-one+ is the Asset Support Contractor working on behalf of Highways England in Area 4, which consists of Motorways and trunk roads in Kent, Sussex and a small part of Surrey. This includes the A259 in Rye, and as such I have been asked to look into this issue.

I understand your concerns for safety with the tidal water forcing motorists to take evasive action and I agree that action is required to resolve this.

We are aware that there is a history of flooding in this particular area and following a detailed study, we have been granted funding to carry out work to increase drainage capacity, with new gullies and channels to remove water. We are also investigating what extra capacity can be provided for when high tides or heavy rain occur. This is a project still in its early phases and as such is not planned in for completion until 2018/19.

As I mentioned above, we are aware a solution is needed, and in the short term, I have contacted our local depot and asked them to check the gullies and outfalls in the area and ensure they are not blocked and are functioning correctly. I have asked that this forms part of our regular maintenance in the area.

I have also forwarded your comments to Highways England and suggested that flood signs are erected prior to the bend, in order to warn motorists when flooding does occur.

I hope that I have been able to resolve your concerns and show you our plans to deal with this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any further assistance with this or any other issue.

Kind regards,

Chris Carter
Customer and Stakeholder Liaison Assistant
On behalf of Highways England”

Well, at least we know now who to complain to. It is comforting to hear that gully clearance and checking will presumably get some form of priority and the erection of flood signs to warn motorists is perhaps a good idea (although even more signs cluttering the pavements). However it doesn’t resolve the main issue that the drains are clearly not capable of coping with the amount of water that fills them when extra high tides occur or when high tides coincide with a period of heavy rainfall.

For that, we are going to have to wait until at least 2018/19 and, if there is flooding elsewhere that takes priority, possibly a lot longer. So traffic will still need to take care and homeowners still need to keep one eye on the tide tables and the other on the weather.


Image Credits: Rye News library .


  1. My parents’ house in Ashenden Avenue was flooded a number of times in the 1960s to 1970s, due to high tide, storm surge and river flow due to heavy rain. Mum always read the Tide Table in the “Rye Fixtures” and worried if it started raining a couple of days before a high tide. I later became head of the group producing the tide tables and always mentioned the psychological stress caused by flooding when I gave talks about our work. Fifty years later, it doesn’t seem that much has been done – apart from still talking about the problem.
    Graham Alcock (now living in New Zealand).

  2. It would be helpful to have contact details for Chris Carter so that residents could alert him about certain drains on the A259 which are not capable of
    dealing with large amounts of water. When there is heavy rain the front gardens of certain houses are flooded and pedestrians get soaked by the passing vehicles if they are not quick enough to take cover.


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