The Ouse Washes Website

an independent research and information project

The Hundred Foot Washes Internal Drainage Board

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This is NOT the official website of the IDB.

The drainage district has a catchment area of 2043 hectares (5048 acres) and was probably formed in the second half of the 18thC.

The Board is responsible for 17 slackers (see links bottom right) on the west bank of the New Bedford River which allow water to be taken from the river into the washes to maintain ditch levels. Water from the slackers feeds into a header dyke running alongside much of the cradge bank, the western or inner river bank. From the dyke, water flows into the was field ditches. The Board are responsible for the maintenance of 19kms, 10 miles, of ditches. All other ditches are the responsibility of the land owners/users (mainly RSPB and WWT).

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The area is managed by a board of ten elected members (12 in the 1990s ?) who serve a 3-yr term. Current members include the managers of the WWT and RSPB reserves who also act as the IDB's Superintendents north and south respectively of the Welney Wash Road (A1101). According to the IDB's accounts, the Superintendents received £410 each for their duties in the year 2010-11.

Judging from the accounts, the IDB does not employ any staff or own any plant or equipment. General administration is provided by the Middle Level Commissioners, and maintenance of drains and slackers is provided by contractors (e.g. Fen Ditching Company in 2010-11).  

  In 1824 the IDB built the Seven Holes Sluice at Earith to replace Vermuyden's Nine Holes Sluice.  
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Text and photos except where noted © Eddy Edwards, 2010-12

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