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River Bourne

The River Bourne which runs through the Village rises on the edge of Easton Hill, just south of Burbage in Wiltshire. It  meanders through, the Collingbournes, Tidworth, Shipton, Cholderton, Newton Tony, Allington,  Boscombe, Idmiston, Porton and the Winterbournes before it joins the river Avon in Salisbury.

Since the 1950's, when extensive work was done, the river itself is normally a winter bourne, meaning that it only flows during the winter months, normally November through to April. In reality the river is normally full only for a few weeks in the early months of the year. This is, of course, highly dependant upon rain fall: the river lasted into May in 1999 and, in 2000, was very full in May and lasted well into June, offering a great deal of pleasure to many of the children in the High Street.

Unfortunately, that year (2000) it flooded once more, causing a great deal of distress. And then, again, across 2002-2003, it flooded even more seriously, washing through 21 houses and threatening 5 more by seeping under the floorboards. We have tried to record this in the history section - click the links for details.

We have a section in the Village History which describes the effects of the flood.

Before then, it had been a long time since the Bourne had flooded in Shipton. We have photographs in the history section of this site showing the High Street flooded from 1930 and 1932. Maybe the site was tempting fate when it said "For some these are a dim memory, and for others an experience which they are fortunate enough not to have experienced": the memory has been jogged and many in the village have now experienced the flooding!

The early months of 1999 did see the Bourne rise higher than it had for many years and the photographs below show views both up and down the High Street, with the river in full flow.

Click on the thumbnail to see a photo of the River Bourne looking NE along the High Street
Click on the thumbnail to see a photo of the River Bourne looking SE along the High Street

It has also become something of a tradition in the village that, provided that the river is sufficiently deep, a ‘Duck Race’ is organised by the Women’s Institute. The race starts from the bridge to ‘Brookside’ by The Boot and finishes on the bridge to St Peters’ Church. It is well attended and is regarded as a great deal of fun. Several races are held with the last being an "open" race - contestants are able to enter ducks of their own design.

Click on the thumbnail for a view of the winning ducks in the 1999 village duck race

Though the ducks used in the races are the plastic yellow variety, some of the older villagers and previous residents do recall ducks walking across the High Street before the flow of the river was disrupted.

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Page Last Updated: 22nd June 2005