Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Up and down the Lark

This river is only about 7 miles to the lock at Isleham with a further 3 most of which is un navigable past the lock.
It took about two hours to get there near the 4 MPH speed limit or 1,500 RPM. There are flood banks either side of this ruler like river.
We passed several pump houses on the way with huge pipes bent over the bank to pump water out of the productive fen lands below. Turned at the lock and stopped a while for lunch. Ann took Molly up the bank and attempted to walk back along the ridge. It was not long before a rescue had to be made because walking was impeded by thick over growth.
Once back at the new Mile End EA mooring we settled down for the evening.
Next day we both walked along the flood bank with Molly to one of those pump houses. A new installation of three electric pumps Set at the end of a ‘drain’. They were out in the open while the old diesel or steam engines are in a brick building. Outside lies the remains of the old steam boiler tanks. The drain is a few feet below the field, the road is several feet above the field and the banked river is several feet above the road. The top of the bank is also several feet above the river. So I suspect the water is pumped up at least 20 feet. The river then takes the water eventually to the sea. Without the pumps the land would just be under water. As it is the farmers are busy harvesting. Tractor loads of onions, straw bales, grain and root crops coming off the fields.
The old wooden wind pumps could manage to raise water a few feet on a windy day using a scoop wheel. Steam powered beam engines using a scoop wheel could manage 20 feet. 19 Steam engines did the work of 250 wind pumps. Gradually the scoop wheel was replaced by the centrifugal pump and then electric motors replaced steam and diesel power units.

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