TF1839 : The South Forty Foot

taken 2 years ago, 4 km from Northorpe, Lincolnshire, Great Britain

The South Forty Foot
The South Forty Foot
The South Forty Foot Drain seen from the end of the lane across Little Hale Fen
South Forty foot Drain and Black Sluice :: TF3242

Black Sluice and the South Forty Foot drain were part of the battle to drain the fens to create more land to harvest crops. But the Fenmen, who had rights to fish and graze their livestock there during the summer, put up a fight to save their livelihoods.
The South Forty Foot drain was first dug in the 1630s to drain Holland fen. Engineers devised a long straight channel to take the water faster to the River Witham where it flowed out to sea. The sluice was built to stop the tide running far inland. Large scale drainage of the fens took place at this time financed by speculators known as "Adventurers".
There was violent resistance and houses, farms and corn stacks on the land were destroyed. The wooden gates of the sluice were burnt leaving them charred black and useless. The fen men drove the Adventurers off the huge common fen.
Over 100 years later, a second sluice was built to relieve the flooding that had continued. The fenmen rioted in Boston, and the militia was sent to prevent the town being burned down. Several years of violence followed but this time, the drainage schemes went ahead. So began the transformation of the fens into the agricultural landscape we see today.
The South Forty Foot drain was dug by labourers using picks, shovels and barrows These tools were still used by navvies clearing silt from drains and rivers until the early 1900s.

The resident engineer to the River Witham commissioners was William Lewin (1794 to 1863), and the third and present Black Sluice was constructed in 1846.

Since 1946, water draining from Holland fen into the South Forty Foot has been pumped into the tidal section of the Witham known locally as the Haven.
The Black Sluice lock at Boston gives boaters access to the South Forty Foot drain as far as Donington High bridge, a distance of 16 km. This lock, opened in 2009, is the first phase of the fens waterways Link.
Black Sluice is the outfall of the South Forty Foot drain into the tidal section of the River Witham known locally as the Haven the sluice and the drain are part of an intricate network of waterways pumps and locks that continue to perform the essential task of draining the lands to reduce the risk of flooding.

The Fens

The Fens, also known as the Fenland, is a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the fens were drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region.
A fen is the local name for an individual area of marshland or former marshland and also designates the type of marsh typical of the area, which has neutral or alkaline water chemistry and relatively large quantities of dissolved minerals, but few other plant nutrients.
Fenland primarily lies around the coast of the Wash; it reaches into four counties: Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and a small area of Suffolk, as well as the historic county of Huntingdonshire. In whole it occupies an area of nearly 1,500 sq miles.
Most of the Fenland lies within a few metres of sea level. As with similar areas in the Netherlands, much of the Fenland originally consisted of fresh- or salt-water wetlands, which have been artificially drained and continue to be protected from floods by drainage banks and pumps.

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TF1839, 21 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Wednesday, 3 July, 2019   (more nearby)
Thursday, 4 July, 2019
Geographical Context
Rivers, Streams, Drainage  Flat landscapes 
Primary Subject of Photo
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 1861 3966 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:56.4741N 0:14.1859W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TF 1862 3977
View Direction
SOUTH (about 180 degrees)
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Other Tags
South Forty Foot Drain  Black Sluice IDB 

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Image Type (about): geograph 
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