River Nene Catchment Board
Records of the River Nene Catchment Board: lock plan 1939, map of waterways in the Nene catchment area 1943, record of some of the Catchment Board's work 1951.
These records are available immediately for research
The Nene Catchment Board was born from the 1930 Land Drainage Act. Its chairman was George Dallas and its engineer Harold W Clark. The challenges which faced them were huge. At best the navigation was in a state of disrepair; at worst it was almost completely derelict and unnavigable to all but the most determined. An urgent and extensive programme of works was devised. A sluice and lock at Dog-in-a-Doublet (named after a pub) was built after decades of indecision. Its construction ensured that the water level at Peterborough was maintained as it excluded the tide, and helped conserve water during droughts. This was completed in 1937; between then and 1944 all staunches were replaced with locks, and a great many of the existing locks and sluices were beyond repair and had to be replaced. The new locks above Dog-in-a-Doublet mostly had bottom guillotine gates and were capable of taking craft 78 feet by 1 feet. Northey Gravel's shoals were removed by dynamite and thus the river was deepened to ten feet. The river through Wisbech was in very poor condition and both banks were piled for two miles and a new quay was constructed. The true test of the new works came in 1947 with the severe flooding that affected most of the country. Both the Board and the government were able to report that they had withstood the extreme conditions admirably. Traffic had always been relatively poor, but it did improve somewhat after the Board had made so many improvements to the upper Nene. Until the 1960s the various mills along the Nene continued to be supplied by the navigation although there was no commercial traffic on the lower river at Peterborough. The low bridges had always been a hindrance to commercial traffic and instead it was pleasure cruising traffic that rose the most. The Nene Catchment Board was not disbanded with the nationalization of the waterways in 1947; instead it continued until about 1951 when responsibility for the Nene passed to the Welland and Nene River Authority. For further information on the River Nene see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations' and John Boyes and Ronald Russell's 'The Canals of Eastern England'.
It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.
[See also BW22 for records of the River Nene during other periods of ownership]