THE 250th anniversary of the completion of Boston’s Grand Sluice in October 1766 was marked today (October 10) with the unveiling of an information board and blue plaque dedicated by the Institute of Civil Engineers.
It has been designed with the help of Neil Wright, chairman of the Lincolnshire Society for History and Archaeology, who pointed out features of interest during a cruise afterwards on the Boston Belle to the proposed site of the Boston Barrier.
The board was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire Toby Dennis who said: “We all stand here today intrigued by the skill of the engineers Langley Edwards, John Grundy and John Smeaton who 250 years ago released the potential of Boston and its surrounding hinterland.” This had enabled Boston to export three million fleeces a year.
During his welcome to VIPs and local dignitaries, Richard Austin said that the information board and a leaflet had come as a result of a meeting five months of the local Heritage Forum.
He added that the project had been a wonderful exercise in partnership between the nine organisations which had been involved and had contributed money, time and information. He thanked Neil Wright for his help with the project and Shirley Rogers of CRT for coordinating the arrangements and hospitality.
The Grand Sluice separates the tidal Haven, operated by the Port of Boston, with the non-tidal River Witham – a Canal & River Trust-managed waterway. Its construction enabled over 110,000 acres to be reclaimed for agriculture, bringing huge prosperity to the town.
Coincidentally today has also seen an announcement by the Inland Waterways Association that it has written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs objecting to the current form of proposals for the tidal barrier due to concerns over the impact on navigation.
While the need for a tidal surge barrier at Boston is clear, IWA has said that the application as submitted, along with the associated Navigational Risk Assessment, does not adequately or accurately set out or mitigate the risks to navigation represented by the construction and operation of the proposed barrier.
In addition, the application does not appear to correctly represent the risks of fluvial flows and flooding in the River Witham once the barrier is in place. Up to early 2015, plans for Boston’s tidal surge barrier included a parallel lock and improvements to the water front in Boston which could have mitigated these concerns.
Among a list of specific concerns expressed by IWA are a lack of detail on water flow velocities around the barrier, the proposed minimum 18m width of the coffer dam by-pass channel, the lack of information on what is actually to be put in place by the project to manage transit by water during the construction period, and the risk of collision due to excessive flows and short sight-lines with the barrier location on a bend in the Haven.
Gren Messham, trustee and chairman of IWA’s Navigation Committee, said “IWA considers that in the absence of firm and detailed proposals to address and mitigate navigational risk, and given the concerns of local individuals, organisations and regulatory bodies, there is insufficient evidence to allow the Order to proceed without further investigation.”
IWA’s full response to the consultation on the Order can be found on the website