Page images
PDF

periods of its history, will be little inclined to animadvert severely on the present inhabitants, or to think lightly of the attempts which have been made by their predecessors: for in this connected view it will appear, that in no county in the kingdom have. equal exertions been used, in the important work of drainage. Without going back to very remote periods it is estimated, that not less than one hundred and fifty thousand acres have been drained, and thus improved from the value of 5s. and some much under, per acre, to 11. 5s. per acre, whereby a rental is created upon lands of previous insignificant value, to the amount of 150,000l. per annum; nor is this all the benefit which has accrued: the provisions have been increased, and the climate rendered more salubrious; fens covered with water and mud, stagnating for months, inhabited by fowls or frogs, have thus been rendered fit for grazing or the plough; and the contaminating influence of its ague giving waters for ever banished to the briny ocean. While health has been fostered, individuals have been enriched, and society greatly benefitted. Plans carried to such an extent, and at such an immense expense, as many of these have been, may justly be denominated great works. “And when, with the views of a political arithmetician, we reflect on the circulation that has attended this creation of wealth through industry, the number of people supported, the consumption of manufactures, the shipping employed, and all the classes of community benefitted; the magnitude and importance of such works will be seen, and the propriety well understood, of giving all imaginable en

couragement and facility to their execution”.” These remarks are judicious, and their importance, as well as others of a similar kind made on the subject, have been appreciated by those most interested in the improvements to which they relate. A plan has been proposed, and is now executing under the direction of that very scientific and able engineer, Mr. John Rennie, by which Wildmore, with East and West Fens, will

* Young's General View, p. 246.

will be effectually drained; and the low lands of this part of the county, by this means become, as they actually are in many others, the most productive in the kingdom. Mr. Rennie was employed, with proper surveyors, to view the situation of the abovementioned fens, the different drains, and out-fall gowts, which conveyed their waters to the sea, to point out the defects of the then existing system, and the best methods: of supplying them, or suggesting a new and better plan for a more effectual drainage of those levels. Upon this subject he printed his first Report in 1800, and with that penetration which marks the superior mind, and that comprehensiveness which evinces perspecuity of judgment; he quickly discovered the cause of the evils, which had been so long complained of after repeated attempts to remove them. Viewing their actual state, the remedy instantly presented itself. The first object which struck him was the outfall; the second, the discharging the water which falls on the surr face of the fens, or which arises in them; the third, the intercepting and carrying off the up or high land water, without allowing it to descend into, and overflow the fens. Each of these necessary points had at times been canvassed; but never generally and unitedly adopted in any previous system. This was reserved for the scientific mind of our present engineer, who, after describing the nature of these fens, divides them according to the usual mode; but from the levels, which were taken on the occasion, he was induced to place Wildmore and West Fens in one draining plan, and East-Fen in another. In the drainage of the former the outlet was made by Anton's Gowt or Maudfoster, the gates of which he found were too narrow for the quantity of water occasionally to be discharged through them; and that the sills of these, as well as those of the grand sluice, were too high for the level of the country, so as to admit, in their present state, of an efficient drainage, not to mention the want of attention to secure the water of the high lands from running into the fens. Mr. Rennie then gives a scheme, first for draining Wildmore

[ocr errors]

Fen separately; then for draining Wildmore and West fem jointly. Respecting these he remarks, That the present drainage is made through Anton's Gowt, about two miles and a half above Boston, and Maudfoster a little below it. The former of which, considered a most essential outfall, has a single pair of doors with a clear opening of fourteen feet two inches; an aperture not large enough to discharge the water usually conducted to it; and in time of flood it is over-rode by the Witham, which frequently keeps the doors shut for weeks together. The water which should discharge through them is forced back along Medlam drain, and West House sike, and is obliged to find a passage by other drains to Maudfoster. The sill of Anton's Gowt is two feet three inches higher than the sill of Maudfoster, and the surface of the water at different times considerably, higher; whence he infers, that no effectual drainage of these fems can be made by any alterations, while the out-fall still continues at Anton's Gowt. Viewing it therefore in all points, and after giving a scheme for the separate drainage of Wildmore-fen, he concludes, That the general surface of the low lands of these fens, being about one height, may be drained by one out-fail.—That as their surface lies about nine feet above the sill of Maudfoster's Gowt, and the water on the sill at neap tides is only six feet, and at spring tides four feet nine inches, there will be a fall of three feet in the one case, and four feet three inches in the other; which he considers sufficient for the extent of level. He then proposes a cut to be made from Medlam-drain at Swinecoat's inclosure, thence to Collins's bridge, a length of eleven miles and a half; having a fall from three to four inches and one-tenth per nile. A straight cut was also to be made from the junction of How-bridge drain with Newham drain, to the drain proposed above to Collins's-bridge. This forms a line of thirteen miles, with a fall of two inches twotenths per mile, during neap tides. Other, drains are intended to be made, when the inclosures are laid out. It appears from this Report, that nearly twelve thousand acres of high lands drain their superfluous waters by the different becks, - which which pass through these fens, the quantity per day is often suf. ficient to cover the whole surface three-tenths of an inch deep; and in wet seasons much more. To discharge this Mr. Rennie proposed a catch-water drain, to commence near the Witham in Coningsby, skirting the high lands to near Hagnaby corner, there to join Gote-sike drain through Fen-side drain; and thence by a new channel to Maudfoster Gowt. The length from the mouth of the river Bain to Maudfoster Gowt is twenty-one miles, and the rise is little more than fourteen feet. This will give a fall to the water at the said. Gowt of eight feet, or about four inches and a half per mile, but it may admit of five inches. He then proposes a new Gowt to be constructed near Maudfoster, with three openings, each fifteen feet wide; one of which to be appropriated, in times of flood, to the discharge of the waters conducted by the catch-water drain; but in ordinary cases these are to form a junction. This taking the water which fall or issue from 40,000 acres of land through Maudfoster, will cause so ample a scour, as to prevent the silt from accumulating to any great degree, and keep the out-fall in a proper and useful state. By this scheme also the drains are to be made sufficiently capacious to admit of such vessels as are generally used in the fens, being navigated upon them; for this purpose locks are to be constructed, to permit them to pass into and out of the Witham, and to form a communication with each other. Also, sluices with penstocks to admit of running water from the brooks to the fens, for the use of cattle during the summer months. Respecting the drainage of the East Fen and the East Holland Towns Mr. Rennie observes, that some parts of these, at present, drain through Maudfoster Gowt, and others have separate Gowts at Fishtoft and Butterwick; but part of the waters at Friskney are raised by an engine, and sent afterwards to sea by a small gowt. The general surface of East Fen is eight feet above the sill at Maudfoster, and but five feet six-inches above that at Wainfleet; whence, as the distance is nearly equal from the centre, - in the one case, the fall would be but one inch, and five-tenths WOL. IX. Pp per per mile; and in the other much less; whence he concludes, that no efficient drainage, in the present state of Boston harbour, can be effected by either of those out-falls. - On mature consideration, Mr. Rennie thought the only effectual place, through which the East Fen and the lower grounds in East Holland could be drained, is a little lower than where the present Gowt of Fishtoft is situated. He proposes therefore a new gowt of larger dimensions to be made about a quarter of a mile below the present. From the level taken, through an extent of sixteen miles, the fall appears to be at the lower part two inches and a quarter per mile, and, in the higher part five inches. A new drain is to be cut from what are called the Deeps, and turning southward to empty into the river near Fishtoft, about five miles below Boston. This, with proper side drains, Mr. Rennie thinks would form a complete drainage for the whole of this district, a few acres of the Pits or Deeps excepted. The high land waters he proposes should be sent, by a channel joining Fen drain at Shottles, to the Gowt at Maudfoster. The quantity of water descending from 38,424 acres will keep the Gowt open, and as there are but few obstructions from sands near Fishtoft, the out-fall will always be in good order; at least in the same state with the river itself at the proposed place. This Report was printed April 7, 1800, and the estimates for carrying these grand schemes into effect is stated thus:

£. s. d. Draining Wildmore Fen separately . . . . . . . . . . . . 29,702 o o Draining Wildmore and West Fens jointly . . . . . . 103,262 0 o Draining East Fen and East Holland Towns . . . . 81,908 o o

By a revision of the schemes in the above Report, after the former levels were proved, and new ones taken, Mr. Rennie gave in to the Proprietors a second Report; in which, from having again ..surveyed the fens in a more favourable season, he is of opinion, that no material alteration can be made for the better, in the scheme

« PreviousContinue »