Flooding on the A37 Dorchester to Yeovil road, beneath the railway bridge at Ash Hill, and the resulting disruption to traffic has been an intermittent problem for a considerable time. The road level under the bridge is lower than the height of the adjacent watercourse called the Wrackle. At times of excessive rain the pump housed alongside the bridge, in place to pump water from the road surface into the Wrackle, has sometimes been unable to cope with the volume of water or has failed completely. The traffic disruption has sometimes been exacerbated by leakage from a nearby sewage pumping station.
The early hours of Thursday 15th January 2015 brought a power cut to the area. The failure of the electric pump beneath the railway bridge resulted in flooding on the A37 and traffic disruption after a car got stuck in the water. Power company Scottish & Southern Electricity were fairly quick off the mark with providing hot food and drinks to local residents and the Saxon Arms public house opened its doors with an invitation to sit by the log fire. Different parts of the parish had power restored at different times.
7:40am 15th January 2015 - Traffic travelling from Dorchester towards Yeovil on the A37 at a standstill.
Photo: Colin Jackson
15th January 2015 - A stationary lorry behind a car stuck in the flood water.
Photo: Colin Jackson
15th January 2015 - Traffic lights now in place. Vehicles using the northerly arch to pass the obstruction.
Photo : Pamela Clark-Simpson
15th January 2015 - Locals at the van arranged by SSE. Complimentary bacon rolls and hot drinks.
4:45pm 15th January 2015 - Road still flooded and problems with the temporary traffic light timings.
Alternate queues using the north/west bound carriageway.
Photo : Janet Ogden
15th January 2015 - Queues of traffic building up.
Photo : Janet Ogden

On Thursday 14th January 2016 a new diesel pump was fitted beneath the railway bridge. Dorset County Council spokesman Jack Wiltshire who was involved with the installation said, "This pump belongs to Dorset County Council. An existing electric pump runs there almost continually. When we have had power cuts, the electric pumps have stopped and a backup has been required. It is hoped that the new backup pump will reduce the likelihood of this road flooding. The gullies under the bridge are often below the level of the adjacent river, so a pump is used to pump the water from under the bridge into the adjacent river."

14th January 2016 - The diesel pump during installation.

On Tuesday 9th February 2016 works were under way to resolve the difficulties created by the flow of waste water from a manhole cover in the A37 road surface adjacent to the Wessex Water Sewage Pumping Station, and a hole that regularly appeared alongside the cover in the road surface. The work involved removing the manhole completely, plating the area and resurfacing the road.

Ian Drury of the Wessex Water Media & PR Department in Bath said that the situation at the site was quite complicated and he provided the following information:

"The surface water flooding is related to the surface water pumping station – this is the council’s responsibility.  As you know the groundwater is high in the area, which is probably one of the causes. However, you’ll need to contact the council on that one. 

There has been damage caused to one of the manholes in the road - this is Wessex Water’s responsibility. The damage has probably been caused by the sheer volume of traffic using the road. During heavy rainfall, wastewater has escaped from the manhole.

There is a sewage pumping station nearby – this is Wessex Water’s responsibility. This is operating normally, but we do tanker flows from it from time to time if there are capacity issues. This helps manage flows, particularly if there is lot of rainfall. This is not connected to any of the surface water flooding.

Tanker at the Sewage Pumping Station.
Ian said that there was no relationship between the pumping station and the recently replaced flood alleviation pump on the south side of the A37 beneath the railway bridge.

He continued, "I
n summary, there are two issues – 1. surface water from the pumping station and 2. waste water from the manhole. We are resolving the latter, which is the element that’s our responsibility.

The road closure would have been to replace the manhole which was damaged. To confirm, this is repair work, not an alteration.

We're really sorry for any inconvenience, but as you can see, it would have been impossible to carry out the repairs to the damaged manhole cover without closing the road.
If surface water flooding persists, this is likely to relate to the high groundwater in the area."
As the week went on the manhole was removed, the pipework was completed, excess water pumped and the hole filled, during which the temporary traffic lights were still in operation and the traffic delays continued.
  On Monday 28th March 2016 the A37 flooded beneath the railway bridge. The following five photos were taken by Jan Wells.  
On Thursday 16th June 2016 a thunderstorm during the afternoon caused problems at the eastern end of Stratton. Mike Bowman's garden which is close to the section of A37 road affected by flooding, suffered. He wrote, "Once again the dreaded sewer back-up strikes. Our garden is flooded by sewer water - the manhole cover [in our garden] is afloat, spewing out dirty water and loo paper, etc. down the lawn and flowerbeds, into the pond and thence into the river. All this after a fairly normal summer downpour lasting about 40 minutes which in the past has had no effect at all on our property."

Photo: Mike Bowman
On the same day the A37 road also flooded again beneath the railway bridge at Ash Hill resulting in Dorset Police attending to control traffic. The water was not as deep as it had been on recent occasions but police officers in attendance considered it a sufficient hazard to prevent vehicles from using the road.
On Saturday 28th August 2016 a thunderstorm and torrential downpour lasting about thirty minutes brought flooding to the A37 at Ash Hill. The photo below shows the queue of Bank Holiday traffic heading towards Yeovil about an hour after the heaviest rain stopped.
At the time the photos were taken the diesel pump installed earlier in 2016 was working hard to clear the flood water without success. The photo below shows the muddy water from the road being pumped into the Wrackle with the clearer water of the Wrackle on the left of the photo.