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Further big projects will be necessary in the future to protect Bristol and Avonmouth from flooding in the Severn Estuary. When the conflict erupted in 1914, Lord Kitcheners call for volunteers prompted such a prodigious rush that by January 1915 one million men had signed up.

The Bristol Frome Culverts have been laser scanned, and Melvin showed an impressive fly-through revealing in every detail the twists and turns, weirs, junctions and mud banks in this hidden world under Bristols streets.Though none of the schemes were completed, several lengths of canal survive today in leisure use, and abandoned sections add to the region's rich industrial archaeology.The Dorset and Somerset Canal was intended to link the Kennet and Avon Canal with Poole in Dorset, but only the Nettlebridge branch was started, only to be abandoned in the 1880s.The resulting political crisis ended with a coalition government, with Lloyd George as Minister of Munitions.At the beginning of the war, shells were filled with Lyddite, but this needed imported raw materials.All Bristols rivers drain to the River Avon, which in turn flows into the Severn Estuary.

Since the latter has the second highest tidal range in the world (the highest is in the Bay of Fundy by the way) this creates further drainage problems for the city.

The sea journey around the south-west peninsula has always been hazardous for shipping, so it was no surprise that the advent of the canal age saw grandiose schemes to link the Bristol and English Channels.

Colin Vosper provided a comprehensive overview of the many such proposals, including some lesser known projects.

The Northern Storm Water Interceptor tunnel, built in the 1950s, is 12 km long and takes water from the Frome at Eastville and discharges it in the Avon Gorge.

Floods in Bedminster in 1968 prompted construction of the Malago River Flood Relief Tunnel.

Wages were good, but the work involved long hours, danger and illness.