Hydraulics Research Station

The Hydraulics Research Station (HRS) was created by the UK Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in 1947.[1] The Research Station was based in Wallingford, near Oxford. It was established to deal with “looser boundary” problems such as coastal erosion, flood protection and the silting and scouring of rivers, estuaries and harbours. The Hydraulics Research Station was housed at Howbery Park as a government establishment until 1982, when it was privatised from the Department of the Environment (DoE) to become Hydraulics Research Station Limited. It is now known as HR Wallingford. During its existence, HRS contributed to advance hydraulics research. It also worked on water-related projects in the UK and around the world.

Brief historyEdit

1945 - The Institution of Civil Engineers submitted a proposal to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on the need for a hydraulics research station in the UK.

1947 – DSIR Hydraulic Research Organisation formed in London

1951 – Hydraulics Research Station established in Wallingford

1965 – Re-organisation into Ministry of Technology. Hydrological Research Unit transferred to the Natural Environment Research Council and later to become Institute of Hydrology and then Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

1971 – Transfer to the Department of the Environment (DoE)

1982 – Privatisation to create Hydraulics Research Station Limited - a company limited by guarantee.

1983 – Hydraulics Research Limited

1991 - HR Wallingford Limited

Major projects in the UKEdit

Thames EstuaryEdit

HRS started doing research in the tidal Thames Estuary in 1947. At this time HRO (Hydraulic Research Organisation) was based at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington and had links with a large physical model set up by the Port of London Authority (PLA) in one of their disused warehouses on the Surrey Docks. This model was used to examine many hydrodynamic, sediment, water quality and morphological issues related to the Thames Estuary and the potential redevelopment of the Estuary following the considerable infrastructure damage that had been suffered during World War II. Many of the issues examined and the techniques developed in this pre-computer age formed a remarkably good base from which the modern range and scope of studies have been developed. This has determined the framework for an understanding of the many processes that operate within the tidal Thames Estuary. [2]

Thames BarrierEdit

The Thames barrier was designed by Rendel, Palmer and Tritton for the Greater London Council and tested at Hydraulics Research Station.

HRS and Institute of Hydrology -1965Edit

HRS established the Hydrological Research Unit for the purpose of River catchment research and engineering and co-operation with other government offices such as the : - Soil Survey of England and Wales (JP Bell) - the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, - the River Authority (1963 Act).

The work expanded greatly after the 1968 flood in Somerset from such actions as the Plynlimon Hafren and Gwy forest and grassland catchments of 1965 under the auspices of James McCulloch (civil engineering) and John C Rodda (hydrometerology and catchments), to operate several units Northumberland, Thetford, Plynlimon, and was moved to Crowmarsh Gifford as the Institute of Hydrology, in part concerning itself with a mass Flood analysis using existing River Authority data (1975). The Institute is now the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, part of the Natural Environment Research Council.



  1. ^ Hydraulics Research in Great Britain: Work of the Hydraulics Research Organization Allen, F. H. Nature, Volume 178, Issue 4546, pp. 1322-1323 (1956)
  2. ^ Inglish CC, Allen FH, The regimen of the Thames Estuary as currents, salinities and river flows, Proc I.C.E, 7,827, 1957

External linksEdit