Weed-strewn drain could heighten risk of winter flooding

From: EW Nicklas, Northgate, Cottingham, East Yorkshire.

NOW that Long Lane has been closed it may be of some interest to your readers to know that this was the original road to Hull from Beverley. It meandered down to the village of Thearne where it branched off to the ferry at Wawne built by the monks connecting Meaux Abbey to Beverley Minster (the ferry was closed as a safety measure when war was declared 1939).

The road then came out where Colletta and Tyson garden centre is now situated. The reason for this meandering was before Barmston Drain was dug in the late 1800s it was all bog land.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The road that now exists between the two lanes was a toll road and is several feet higher than the land on either side for that reason.

The house at the top of Ferry Lane is called Toll Bar Cottage, that was where the toll bar was. This was to save time and money when goods were moved by horse and manpower.

The White House at the top of Thearne Lane was a water mill (the Millstones are on display). When Barmston Drain was constructed, the water supply dried up and it was converted to a steam mill.

Barmston Drain drains a good proportion of the land in the East Riding. When I lived in Thearne in the ’30s the Drainage Board cut the weeds twice a year in the drain so they did not impede the flow.

The water was crystal clear and I and many of my contemporaries learned to swim in it. Plaxtons swimming spot, as it was known locally, was on the left of the bridge down Ferry Lane. We had bushes to get changed behind one for males, one females.

In the 1930s, Dutchmen came and bought the land, much to the amusement of the locals because they knew the land was prone to flooding.

They came because the water tables were high and would need less watering and they knew how to manage low-lying land. They deepened the dikes and became very successful.

If you look at the drain now as you cross the bridge down Dunswell Lane you will notice it is, like quite a number of dikes in the East Riding, completely choked with weeds.

The powers-that-be have gone to a great deal of expense and effort in Cottingham to build flood defences.

Could Barmston Drain cope with a similar situation following a prolonged heavy rainfall?

When things were done by “rack of thumb and od of gob” 
it was harvest, hedge cutting, 
then dike cleaning before the rains.

I think whatever is done this year will be a bit too late.