The Little Thetford catch-water drain was constructed in 1838. John Parish of Bedwell Hey Farm tells us his great-grandfather was the surveyor. The catch-water drain was completed six years before the 1844 Little Thetford Act of enclosure.
The purpose of the catch-water drain is to stop water running off the high ground of the parish into the surrounding low-lands where it is more difficult to drain. The catch-water runs from Grunty Fen in the south-west, around the south of the village then east and north to drain by gravity into the River Great Ouse north-east of the village at Braham Dock. The village web site interactive parish map shows the route more graphically than can be described here. Select the overlay map from 1903 to see the catch-water drain marked as it was over one-hundred years ago. Use the slider and change old map transparency to follow the village changes between then and now.
The low-land south and east of the drain is the responsibility of the Littleport and Downham Internal Drainage Board (formed in 1756), part of the Ely Group of Internal drainage Boards. Drainage is carried out by the board on this land by their electric pump which is situated near the west river bank just north of Chapel Hill. This land was once drained by a wind-pump (pictured) driven scoop wheel on the east bank of the river opposite Chapel Hill.
Pell, A., MacKay, T. (Ed), (1908) the reminiscences of Albert Pell: sometime M.P. for South Leicestershire. J Murray. pp. 350–355. The 1938 date of construction of the Little Thetford catch-water drain is discussed on page 352 of this document.
Pugh, R.B., ed (1953). The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Cambridge and the isle of Ely. IV. Oxford University Press. pp. 151–159. Little Thetford was enclosed in 1844 under Inclosure Thetford Act: 7 & 8 Victoria c. xxix.
Bentham, J. (1778) Considerations and Reflections on the Present State of the Fens, &c. J Teulon.
Dugdale, W. (1662) The history of imbanking and drayning of divers fenns and marshes: both in forein parts, and in this kingdom; and of the improvements thereby. Extracted from records, manuscripts, and other authentick testimonies, by William Dugdale Esquire, Norroy King of Arms. Alice Warren.