The entirety of Bourton Park is a natural floodplain for Buckingham. The River Great Ouse which flows through the park is the fourth-longest in the UK. It flows from Northamptonshire, through Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk before draining into the Wash and the North Sea.

Buckingham is one of the first major towns to be effected by a flood in the upper great Ouse catchment. Since 1940s there have been five significant flood events recorded in Buckingham: March 1947, December 1979, April 1998, July 2007 and December 2020.

The environment agency uses a network of monitoring systems across the country to measure the level of rivers to put flood warnings in place. Each river has its own datum – a height chart in meters fixed to sea level. Buckingham’s datum is located on the west side of town at Fishers Field. Most measurements are taken electronically by sensors in the river and automatically sent back to the environment agency via their telemetry systems. Data is collected regularly and more frequently when there’s a greater risk of flooding i.e. heavy rainfall. The data is stored on an IT system which we can all access, via the biggest network of computers in the world; the internet!

Did you know that the world’s first computer program was written by an English woman named Ada Lovelace? In the mid-1800s, she wrote an algorithm – a set of instructions to follow that was meant to be processed by a machine. Algorithms are essential because they provide the computer programme with instructions to follow which tells the computer what to do. Computers can do amazing things and they have completely changed our lives, so much that we can wonder sometimes what we would do without them!

Just for fun: What’s a robot’s favourite author? Answer: Anne Droid!