The River Huntspill, also known as the Huntspill River, is an artificially constructed waterway located in the Somerset Levels within the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, England. Its construction took place in 1940 with the primary purpose of supplying process water to ROF Bridgwater, thereby mitigating flooding in the lower Brue Valley. At the western end of the river, known as West Huntspill Sluice or Huntspill Sluice, it is separated from the River Parrett. A significant portion of the river and its surrounding lands has been designated as a national nature reserve, managed by the Environment Agency.The initial proposal for the Huntspill River dates back to 1853 when J. Aubrey Clark put forth the idea as a means of improving drainage in the lower River Brue. Despite Clark's enthusiastic support, no action was taken due to challenges in getting the two divisions of the Court of Sewers—the entity responsible for the river system above and below Langport—to agree on responsibilities and funding for such a scheme. However, with the outbreak of World War II, plans for a new explosives factory, ROF Bridgwater, emerged. This facility required a daily supply of 4.5 million imperial gallons (20 Ml; 5.4M US gal) of process water. Louis Kelting, the Chief Engineer of the Somerset Catchment Board, revived Clark's proposals and incorporated a drainage scheme into the water supply solution.The project involved draining an area of 45,000 acres (18,000 ha), of which 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) regularly experienced flooding. A straight channel spanning 5 miles (8.0 km) was excavated during the early years of World War II using a dragline excavator. Given its vital role in supporting the munitions factory, the construction of the Huntspill River was designated as a priority war effort. The plans were devised in late 1939, and by January 1940, initial excavations were underway. The channel extended from Gold Corner, where it connected to the South Drain, to a new outfall on the estuary of the River Parrett. It featured retention sluices at both ends, effectively functioning as an elongated reservoir. In the summer, when water supply was lower, it served as a reservoir by pumping water from the moors, while during winter, it acted as a drainage channel utilizing gravity drainage.Originally designed as a 25-foot (7.6 m) deep channel with excavated earth used to construct flood banks along its edges, complications arose due to the underlying peat soil. The weight of the flood banks caused rotation and upward pressure on the channel bottom. Extensive experiments were conducted to determine the optimal size for a stable channel, resulting in a depth of only 16 feet (4.9 m). Consequently, the flood banks were limited to a maximum height of 15 feet (4.6 m) and had to be set back from the channel's edge by at least 30 feet (9.1 m). Due to the reduced depth, water from the South Drain had to be pumped into the Huntspill River. To accommodate the increased water volume, the existing pumping station at Gold Corner required expansion. Once the entire flow of the South Drain was redirected into the river, the section northwards from Gold Corner to the River Brue became obsolete. Instead of allowing it to silt up, the section was enlarged, and Cripps sluice was constructed where it met the Brue. This redirection significantly reduced flooding in the Brue valley, as it enabled water from the Brue, previously unable to flow due to tidal blockages, to be diverted southwards to the Huntspill River.The pumping station, equipped with four Sultzer horizontal pumps powered by two-cylinder oil engines manufactured by Crossley, has undergone modernization, including the conversion of one pump to operate on electricity and the replacement of fuel tanks. During the excavation process, Roman salt works were discovered in the area, and remnants of these can be observed alongside the river. The challenging ground conditions made bridge construction difficult, necessitating the driving of piles down to the underlying rock, some reaching 60 feet (18 m) in length, with one bridge requiring 80-foot (24 m) piles. The first pump became operational by July 1942, and the pumping station was completed by the end of that year. The total cost of the project amounted to £411,594 (equivalent to £19,324,271 in 2019), which included £35,000 for the construction of the new pumping station and £26,000 for the machinery installed within it. This camera was installed and is maintained by the Environment Agency and can be viewed here
. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0.