Flood barrier firm aims high after product tests

Hebburn company Watergate Flood Solutions plans to grow significantly after creating high quality flood defences for homes and small businesses

Front, Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn and AH Engineering production supervisor Andrea Birks; back, from left, Gerard Hiscock of Watergate; Hebburn councillor John McCabe; Paul Briggs of Watergate; and AH Engineering director Chris Clarke
Front, Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn and AH Engineering production supervisor Andrea Birks; back, from left, Gerard Hiscock of Watergate; Hebburn councillor John McCabe; Paul Briggs of Watergate; and AH Engineering director Chris Clarke

A recently established North East firm is targeting first year turnover of at least £1m after creating a highly effective flood barrier for homes and small businesses.

Watergate Flood Solutions, of Hebburn, invested more than £20,000 to put its innovative product put through rigorous testing that confirmed it provided the highest possible protection during flash flooding.

Having secured a British Standard Kitemark, the company is now in talks over sales and distribution.

“Flooding is a very topical subject at the moment and our local MP has taken an interest in it,” said Watergate operations director Gerard Hiscock.

“We are the only company between here and the Midlands to create a product that’s gone through this test.

“We’re hopeful it will be a success and that we can provide some local employment as a result. We’re so excited about this product.”

To produce the Watergate, as the barrier is known, another Hebburn firm, A H Engineering, was called upon to manufacture some parts.

The barrier, which is attached to doors during instances of flash flooding, is made of a lightweight but strong composite material, and features a rubber seal and two metal channels. It is constructed so that it works with water pressure, meaning the more severe the flooding, the more effective the device becomes.

Currently, British companies producing such defences need to a comply with a 2009 standard, under which flood barriers can still allow up to two litres of water to pass through every hour. Under a new standard coming into force, however, this will be reduced to one litre in total.

In tests conducted by leaders in the field, HR Wallingford in Oxfordshire, the Watergate let through 4ml of water on one occasion and no water at all in every other instance.

“They were astonished that we had managed to produce something so effective,” Hiscock said.

“With regards to time, you’ve only got a few minutes in these situations, and, with some other products on the market, you’d need a degree to put them together and they are so heavy by comparison. This is more streamlined and looks really simple.”

MP for Jarrow, Stephen Hepburn, who visited the business recently, said: “It was a pleasure to meet staff at A H Engineering Ltd and Watergate Flood Solutions Ltd in Hebburn and it is extremely pleasing to see these two local companies working together to create this innovative flood defence product. Areas across South Tyneside have been hit hard by flash flooding in recent years and I sincerely hope that this product will help protect residential properties, shops and businesses against flooding at present and in the future.

“I have written to the Association of British Insurers urging the insurance industry to provide incentives to users of these products in a similar way they do to people who equip their premises with burglary deterrent devices.”

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