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Engineering & Innovation

Tees Barrage opened in 1995 to control the tidal flow of the River Tees and prevent flooding. The white water water course which sits adjacent to the Tees Barrage, opened at the same time. The course consisted of a 250m loop full of obstacles and holes for adventurous paddlers to negotiate. In 2010, a £4.6 million regeneration of the course began and in 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II reopened the improved development with a celebratory event enjoyed by thousands of local residents.

What is a barrage? The word barrage is actually a French word meaning ‘dam generally’ which is actually a good description of what a barrage is. Basically it is a dam which diverts water via a number of large gates to regulate the water level. This then means you can avoid flooding upstream, if water levels become elevated due to high rain fall for example, the barrage opens a number of gates which allows water to pass through and avoid risk of flooding.

The River Tees is a bustling river for both wildlife and transportation. To accommodate access smoothly up and down the Tees through the barrage a few components are also included. A fish pass is situated within the barrage to allow the natural movement and migration of fish up and downstream. For boats to pass, there is a lock, which works by allowing water to enter or leave one level to enable the boat to rise or fall to the correct water level and pass through.

The white water course reopened in 2011 after regeneration. As well as expanding the size of the course, four Archimedes Screws were also introduced. The Archimedes Screws weigh a whopping 120 tonnes each and are a remarkable feat of engineering which not only guarantee white water flow, whenever it is required, they also generate power which is sold back to the national grid. A ‘Lazyboy’ system was also added so that paddlers and rafters could get back to the top of the course without having to get our of their vessel.

The control of the barrage is managed by Canal & River Trust from a control room in one of the buttresses of the road bridge crossing the river.

If you would like more information on the engineering and innovation on display at the Tees Barrage, we offer site tours and educational talks. For more information please fill out an enquiry form or give us a call 01642 678000.

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