Do you know where Railway Walk in York is?

No? You are not alone.

Earlier this autumn, the Environment Agency issued a flood warning in which it said that it had closed Railway Walk Floodgate in central York.

I was preparing to put it on the Press website when I realised I had no idea where this floodgate was.

I had never heard of Railway Walk and I have lived in York for many a long year.

I asked around.

Nobody I spoke to including those who know the centre very well knew anything about Railway Walk, let alone its floodgate.

I tried Google Maps without success.

In the end I left the name out of the story I put online and merely said the Environment Agency had closed city centre floodgates.

There are two large floodgates near the railway; the one under Lendal Bridge, known to everyone in York as Lendal Bridge Floodgate and the one at the bottom of Marygate, which everyone calls Marygate Floodgate

After the waters had relented and days after every flood warning had been completely lifted, I took the picture above of Tower Gardens.

Have a good look at it. There is clearly no flood, despite what the sign says.

You can just see the River Ouse in the background well within its banks.

You will also notice lots of people going back and forth along the riverbank with no difficulty.

Several people walked past the warning in the few minutes I was there.

The sign is still in place as I write, over a week since the last time York was on flood alert and with no flood on the horizon.

Two more signs along the same stretch of river between Skeldergate Bridge and Ouse Bridge are also in place, warning of a non-existent flood.

It is not the first time, or indeed the tenth time, flood signs have remained on display in York for days after the flood they refer to has receded.

I tend to rely more on my own assessment of the river level, as seen by my eyes, rather than flood signs, when deciding whether to use a riverside path or not.

Given the many, many people I have seen happily going past signs saying “No access floods”, and arriving dry shod at their destination, I suspect I am far from the only one.

I do now know where Railway Walk is.

In 2014, City of York Council issued a notice about its temporary closure giving a diversion route which led from one end of Scarborough Bridge to the other via Lendal Bridge.

So Railway Walk must include the footbridge alongside the railway bridge on Scarborough Bridge.

Indeed it may be the footbridge.

I’ve seen no reference to Railway Walk since.

When the foot/cycle bridge was completely reconstructed a year or so ago it was referred to by everyone including City of York Council as Scarborough Bridge.

There is no floodgate on the bridge, but nearby is a floodgate at the bottom of Marygate which is presumably Railway Walk Floodgate.

It is in a flood wall which the Environment Agency calls Marygate Wall in its documents for the ongoing upgrade of York’s flood defences.

So why doesn’t the agency call it Marygate Floodgate like everyone else?

Putting up flood warnings is fine, but only if everyone knows where you are referring to.

They have to be put up in a timely fashion and in York they generally are.

Indeed, judging by the willingness of the Agency to put out warnings the moment the river is forecast to reach seven feet or 2.1 metres, perhaps too timely.

But taking them down in a timely fashion is equally important.

Otherwise they tend to be disregarded, just like those signs on the motorways warning of debris or animals on the road long after the obstacle has been removed. I rarely see cars slowing down for them.

York’s flood warning system should be a well-oiled machine given the amount of use it gets every year, but it is showing signs of creaking.

The Environment Agency is currently spending £45 million on upgrading the city’s physical flood defences over five years.

It may like to give the city’s flood warning system a thorough overhaul at the same time and make sure that it is working properly.