Essex Rivers Hub

The original channel of the River Brain lay abandoned and unconnected from its waters for centuries.

Now thanks to a project carried out in 2012 by Essex Wildlife Trust and Witham Town Council the river is being restored to its former glory.

Excavations have removed the silted river bed and opened up the old channel, so that the river no longer flows solely through the artificially straightened 'Mill Race'.

The rejuvenated old channel winds its way across the site through several bends, called meanders. This natural channel shape helps to slow the flow of water and reduces the likelihood of flooding by holding water back.

Naturally flowing rivers like this provide a variety of habitats such as shallow riffles, shingle bars and deep pools. These new habitats will benefit many species, including Kingfisher, Otter, aquatic insects such as Willow Emerald Damselfly, fish, flowers, including Southern Marsh Orchid, and a protected Water Vole colony.

This area is already recognised for its importance to wildlife and is designated a Local Wildlife Site.

Thanks to this new lease of life, the historic waterway is becoming even better for wildlife, improving the health of the whole river in the process and creating an even more attractive spot for all to enjoy.



River Brain

WFD water body status


Project type

River corridor restoration

Project lead

Essex Wildlife Trust

Contact for more information

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Project partners

Witham Town Council

Funding source

Witham Town Council

Project start


Project end


Website key stakeholders:

Environment Agency logo      Essex Wildlife Trust logo           

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting based on an original concept by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust