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Witham First District IDB facts for kids

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Witham First District IDB
Pumping Station at Thorpe Tilney Dales - - 418646.jpg
Timberland pumping station at Thorpe Tilney Dales, which was superseded by electric pumps, and is open to the public.
OS grid reference TF187560
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
EU Parliament East Midlands
List of places
53°05′N 0°13′W / 53.08°N 0.22°W / 53.08; -0.22Coordinates: 53°05′N 0°13′W / 53.08°N 0.22°W / 53.08; -0.22

Witham First District IDB is an English internal drainage board which was set up under the terms of the Land Drainage Act 1930. The Board inherited the responsibilities of the Witham General Drainage Commissioners, who were first constituted by an Act of Parliament of 1762. They manage the land drainage of an area to the west of the River Witham, between Lincoln and Dogdyke, which includes the valley of the River Slea to above Sleaford.

The district is divided into a number of compartments, as it is intersected by embanked rivers which cross the area, carrying water from the Car Dyke, which acts as a catchwater drain at the western boundary, to the Witham on its eastern edge. Most of the parishes were enclosed in the late 1700s, by separate Acts of Parliament, and steam-powered drainage was introduced from the 1830s. Steam engines were gradually replaced by oil and diesel engines, and most have since been superseded by electric pumps. The Witham First District IDB maintains thirteen pumping stations and 165 miles (266 km) of drainage channels.


The River Witham passes through low-lying land in Lincolnshire, which is susceptible to flooding. In 1762, an Act of Parliament was passed, which created the Witham General Drainage Commissioners, and divided the area into six districts, each with responsibility for land drainage. These were called the Witham First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Districts. The First District covered an area of 24,916 acres (10,083 ha), bounded on the north and east by the river, and on the south and west by the Car Dyke, an ancient navigation channel. The Fifth District covered a much smaller area of 5,176 acres (2,095 ha) between Billinghay Skirth and Kyme Eau, the lower part of the River Slea. It became part of the First District in 1953.

There were initially 23 commissioners for the district, one elected by each of the eighteen parishes which formed the First District, and another five from parishes in the Fifth District. Each district also elected some of the 31 General Drainage Commissioners. Seven came from the First District and another two from the Fifth District. The remainder came from the other four similar bodies created by the original Act.

The Land Drainage Act 1930 made provision for the creation of internal drainage boards. The Witham and Steepings Catchment Board, who were responsible for the rivers at the time, proposed the creation of the Witham First District IDB, which took effect from 8 January 1934. In 1951, the Board was restructured to include six extra members, when the Witham Fifth District IBD was abolished, and was effectively amalgamated with the First District. Its area of responsibility was extended in 1968, when parts of fourteen parishes and the Urban District of Sleaford came under its jurisdiction, and the board was again restructured on 7 July 1993, to include representatives from local Councils, as required by the Land Drainage Act of 1991.


The district is effectively broken up into compartments by a number of rivers, acting as highland carriers, whose water level is normally above that of the surrounding land, but flooding is prevented by flood banks. The main river is the Witham, running broadly north to south through the district, but there is also the Car Dyke, which runs parallel to the Witham and further to the west, acting as a catchwater drain for water which would otherwise flow into the low-lying region. Between them, running broadly west to east, are seven other channels. Beginning in the north, below Lincoln, and working south towards Boston, these are Sandhill Beck, Branston Delph, Nocton Delph, Metheringham Delph, Timberland Delph, Billinghay Skirth, and Kyme Eau, which is another name for the lower part of the River Slea. The water level of most of these is normally the same as that of the Witham, but they are fitted with pointed doors where they meet, which are designed to close by gravity if water levels in the Witham rise significantly. They are all classified as main rivers, and are therefore managed by the Environment Agency. The total length of rivers passing through the district or adjacent to it is 94 miles (151 km), and they are restrained by 125 miles (201 km) of banks.

The area managed by the First District IDB lies to the east of the Lincoln Edge, a limestone escarpment which is a prominent feature of Lincolnshire. Several small streams are fed by springs on its dip slope, and the Car Dyke intercepts these. It connects with the heads of the Delphs, discharging water from the streams into them by gravity. At Billinghay Skirth, a small sluice connects the two waterways. The district covers an area of 60.82 square miles (157.5 km2), of which all but 1.03 square miles (2.7 km2) is agricultural land. The catchment for the district includes an additional 2.88 square miles (7.5 km2). Within the district, 11.8 acres (4.8 ha) are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the 74 acres (30 ha) of Metheringham Delph are a nature reserve.

Pumping stations

The table shows the locations of the IDB pumping stations, with the number of pumps in 2008, and the maximum pumped flow in megalitres per day (Mld) (1 Mld is 0.233 million gallons per day).

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