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Lade Bank Pumping Station

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Lade Bank Pumping Station.
The replacement diesel engine from around 1940.

Lade Bank lock was built on the Hobhole Drain in 1805 by John Rennie and 1867 the Lade Bank pumping station was built of red and yellow brick. Originally a lock of four cutwaters and two abutments with grooves and fixings for lock gates.

In 1867 an engine house and pumping station with tall chimney were built above. The engine house contained six boilers to raise the steam to operate the two pumps.

It was replaced by a modern station of 1936 also partly built on the original lock bases

History of the Lade Bank Pumping Station.[1]

Oral tradition has it that George Woods born 1844 at Sibsey was engaged on the construction of the Lade Bank Pumping Station but threw the Foreman in the water (Lock). It is a fact that his brother David Woods was the Blacksmith at Lade Bank in 1871 and that by April 1871 George Woods had left the area and was working in Grimsby as a Driver/Fitter for the Railway. He was to return to Leake before August 1876. This is their story of the pumping station.

In 1800 John Rennie was directed by the Witham Commissioners to report on the drainage of the East, West and Wildmore Fens of South Lincolnshire and a first report was submitted on 7 April 1800 and a second report on 1 Sept 1800.

The East Fen and East Holland Towns were imperfectly drained by Maud Fosters Gowt. Fishtoft and Butterwick had separate sluices under the Court of Sewers, the Court originated in the time of Henry VIII.

Part of the drainage at Friskney was raised by a water engine and went to sea by a small gowt. The general surface of the East Fen and Wrangle common were found to be about 8 feet above the level of the old Maud Foster sluice. The East Fen was computed at 12,424 acres and the East Holland towns at 26,000 acres.

There were several options discussed as possible solutions:

  • All the drainage of the East Fen should be discharged at the Maude Foster outlet.
  • A new cut to Wainfleet Haven.
  • A new cut through the centre of the East Fen discharged into the river near Fishtoft Gowt. The selected solution.

Mr Rennie dismissed the Wainfleet Haven scheme as being incompatible with through drainage and as he was an Engineer to the General Commissioners his preferred solution was to exit through the Maud Foster outlet but with a deepening and straightening of the river. This scheme saved £28,000 as against making a new cut to Hobhole. As this would assist the drainage of the West and Wildmore Fens he recommended that they should contribute to the expense.

The Corporation of Boston expressed their willingness to contribute one half of the cost of straightening the river from Maud Foster to Hobhole but the Drainage Commissioners considered this insufficient and decided that the water from the uplands. West and Wildmore Fens should be drained through Maud Foster and the outfall for the East Fen should be near Fishtoft Gowt.

An Act was obtained in 1801 covering the West, East and Wildmore Fens and this area was extended by a subsequent Acts of 1803 and 1818. The East Fen scheme involved construction of the Hobhole Drain running North to South from near Hagnaby to near the mouth of the River Witham at Hobhole which was down river of the Maud Foster. Amongst other features of the Lade Bank drain was scoured' deepened and enlarged to a 10 foot bottom from North Dyke Bridge to the Main drain. The Hobhole sluice was opened on 3 Sept 1806.

A report of 1814 said that when every part or the lowlands of England were covered by ice flood, the East/West and Wildmore Fens were completely free.

However by 1866 the situation was different, the drainage had caused the soil level to fall 1-2 feet and the entrance to Hobhole had silted up. The winter of 1866 had been particularly wet and much of the East Fen was under water for many weeks, the view from Keal Hill being of one extensive lake with farmers passing by boat from one farm to another. About 25,000 acres of the East Fen were below ordinary flood level with a considerable portion of the Land north of Lade Bank being unable to be drained by gravity to Hobhole.

Mr Hawkshaw was retained by the General Commissioners and advised That draw doors should to placed across Hobhole drain near Lade Bank Bridge and a pumping engine of 180 horsepower be erected to lift the water from the northern to the southern side of the draw doors the maximum lift being 5 feet.

The estimated capital cost was £15,000 administration £3000, Interest over 35 years £1350 and running cost £1,250, a total of £26,000 equivalent to a tax of 11 pence over the whole district for 35 years.

In 1861 a meeting of the Commissioners resolved in favour of a general plan rather than a local P151" but that in the event of a general plan failing then the local plan of draining by steam engine should te adopted. By 1866 the General commissioners despairing of any general plan being carried out decided to apply to Parliament for to erect the steam engine at Lade Bank. They proposed that £20,000 should be raised on mortgage and an additional tax of 6 pence per acre should be raised over and above the 1 shilling for East Fen and 2 shillings for the west and Wildmore Fens.

The Witham Drainage Act 1867 received Royal Assent on 15 July 1867. As could be expected there was some opposition to the scheme and an additional engine at Hobhole was suggested to reduce the size of the Lade Bank engines. However the additional cost of building, purchase of land and operating cost would have made the cost much the same so Mr Hawkshaws plan for Lade Bank was adopted

The new pumping station was situated at Lade Bank on the West side of Hobhole Drain on lands formally belonging to Hunston’s Charity. They consisted of two pairs of high pressure condensing engines, working two Appold’s centrifugal pumps. The fan of each pump was brass seven feet In diameter driven by a wrought iron vertical shaft and bevil pinion Wheel and connected to one of the pairs of engines. The diameter of the cylinders of the engines Is 30 Inches and the stroke 30 inches. The steam is supplied by 6 Cornish boilers each 23 feet long and 6 feet diameter the safe pressure being 60 pounds per square inch. One pump and its pair of engines was an independent unit capable of lifting the water 6 feet above the drainage level. The pumps, engines and boilers were contained in two large brick buildings, with iron roofs covered by slates, the pump races being directly under the engines. The chimney shaft is 12 feet square at the base and 90 feet in height, finished at the top with stone corbels, and a cast Iron ornamental cap weighing 3 tons.

The dam across the the drain consisted of two sluices, with self acting doors pointing down the drain, with a lock in the centre. The lock is seventy feet long and twelve feet wide, the total waterway being 36 feet. These works as well as the foundations for the engines are constructed of bricks laid in hydraulic lime and coped with Bramley Fall stone.

The contract for the works was taken by Messrs Easton and Amos of London and carried out under the supervision of Mr H. C. Anderson the cost being £17,000.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. History of the Fens of South Lincolnshire by W. H. Wheeler. 1868. With supplementary material by Laurie Woods