Warning signs to be added to notorious Charvil fordBy Jon Nurse
October 08, 2012
A notorious ford will get four flashing signs this month to warn drivers of its deceptive and dangerous waters.
The signs will be on either side of the Lands End ford in Charvil, where another car was trapped last Tuesday.
Posts have been set in preparation for the signs, which are costing around £20,000 and will be only be the third of their kind in the UK.
Matt Davey, head of highways and transport for Wokingham Borough Council, said: “The fire and rescue service was spending so much money going out to help people there.
“If we can reduce the accidents by just 25 per cent then the signs will pay for themselves in a few years and hopefully they will be even more effective than that and almost bring it to a halt.
“It’s an extremely dangerous ford to go into when it’s in flood. It’s very deceptive – you can’t see the bottom to realise how deep it is.
“The current may not look strong but again it’s deceptive.”
Flooding has trapped more than 80 vehicles at the ford in Park Lane in the last two decades.
The two sets of signs, which are scheduled to be in place by the end of the month, will detect the level of the river and be activated when the water level rises to a height set by Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The first warning motorists will find is a vehicle activated sign that will flash up a flood warning.
Drivers would then be faced with a flashing sign displaying the message ‘warning – this ford is only passable at low water levels – check depth markings’.
Steve Collier, landlord of the Lands End pub which overlooks the ford, said: “Anything to try to stop people getting stranded is a good move. Flashing signs could make a difference but we’ll only find out when it happens. The council have put signs up but people have ignored it in the past.
“The last car got stuck in their last week under the cover of darkness. One of the youngsters came into the pub asking for a breakdown number. The car was two thirds covered, though it had gone off the road which puts a few more inches on it.”
Mr Collier has been impressed by the number of deterrents put before dozy drivers this summer.
“This summer the council has been on the ball – they’ve been quick to react to block the entrance with barriers,” he said. “It’s been the lowest number of getting stuck since we started seven years ago.”
Station manager Jess James, from Caversham Road fire station where RBFRS’ water rescue unit is based, said: “We have attended numerous incidents over the last few years at the Lands End ford.
“These often involve drivers who have got into difficulty because they attempt to drive through the ford when the water level is too deep. This not only puts themselves and other occupants of the vehicle at risk but having to send resources to such incidents means that our crews are unavailable to attend other emergency calls.
“We have worked with Wokingham Borough Council on looking at how to improve safety at the ford and welcome any measures which will reduce the number of incidents in the future.”