Torrents of hot water have flooded rooms in Wadham College, devastating students’ personal possessions and forcing finalists to change their accommodation.
Michael Wood, a languages and philosophy student, said, “there was water completely pouring through my ceiling. It was really hot and steamy but fucking weird at the same time.”
The water poured from the attic at the top of the staircase and completely soaked through two floors, reaching rooms as far down as the first floor of the building. Three student rooms were damaged, as well as Wadham’s JCR kitchen and laundry room. The conference office two floors below was also affected.
The deluge occurred after a cold water tank overflowed. The flood is believed to be related to work carried out on the main boiler the previous day by building contractors.
One student whose room was soaked said, “I first noticed the flooding when I heard what I thought was a tap that I had left on in my bedroom.
“I looked around and saw that there was a quick stream of water falling from the ceiling over my bed. Within half an hour, there was hot water falling from all the corners of my room. The atmosphere was like a tropical rainforest.
“I managed to move most of my valuables out of the room, but the people living above me, who weren’t in their rooms at the time, weren’t so lucky.”
Michael Wood said, “I was in the bar when I had a phone call from the girl who lives below me saying, ‘there’s water pouring through my ceiling'”. When he reached his room there was two inches of water on the floor and seams of water along the ceiling where the concrete blocks join.
“The water got into all my cupboards, my drawers… pretty much everything it could.” The effect, he said, was “a bit like a sauna but more like a steam room.” He added, “I didn’t get scalded but it washed all the product out of my hair. College had just turned on these 2 boilers that they’d been repairing to avoid this happening.”
Pauline Linières-Hartley, Wadham’s Domestic Bursar, said that the cause of the flood was still unknown. She said, “the contractors are still looking at what went wrong. This is a very unfortunate incident, but these things do happen.”
She declined to confirm whether the contractors who had been doing related work on the main boiler were to blame. Problems with water pressure had led to the tank overflow.
Sharp and Howse, the buidling contractors who are working on the boiler, said that the incident was not directly related to their work on the boiler, “but it was related down the line.”
The contracts manager for the company said Sharp and Howse had rectified the problem but, “it wasn’t Sharp and Howse’s problem.” They are still investigating the cause of incident.
Two of the students have been moved to new rooms on college premises. However, since there were no free rooms for finalists on the Wadham main site, the third has been relocated to nearby New College until the flooded rooms have been repaired.
She said, “College staff have been very apologetic, but it’s still a massive inconvenience to have to move all my stuff to a different college where I don’t know anyone and to have to get all my clothes and bedding laundered and dry-cleaned.”
Wadham has offered to pay damage costs and compensation to all three students whose rooms were affected. The college expects to be able to move students back into their rooms by this Thursday.
Michael Wood said, “college have been fantastic. They’ve said that anything damaged will be replaced. They’re given me a lovely bottle of wine.” He added, “not to sound too stoical, these things happen.”
Wadham College guarantees in-college accommodation to all freshers and finalists. Ongoing building work has harassed Wadham students this term. Wadham’s iconic front quad is currently being gutted as part of renovation plans for the college.
One 2nd year said, “Back Quad is literally just portacabins since midsummer. It’s meant to be finished by May 09. The work is causing a lot of noise.” Another student commented, “Back Quad looks pretty awful. It’s eaten up by scaffolding.”