Cat no. 1892

Draining The Fens

Running time9:19 Black & White Sound 1947 The Fens

Loading the player ...

A history of draining the Fens including footage of the 1947 floods.



This film begins with a map of Great Britain. It closes in on the Fenland area and shows the four main rivers of the Fens; the Witham, the Welland, the Nene, (spelt Nen on the film) and the Great Ouse. The commentary explains what sort of area the Fenlands are and something of its history. There is a shot of the Fenland showing a cottage.

On the Wash, Aargie Smart goes punting. He shoots his prey with a punt gun and then picks them up. The next sequence looks at the drainage problem in the Fenland. It shows men ditching and then there is a diagram of the drainage system. There is a shot of a sluice gate and the film recounts a little of the history of the draining of the Fens, mentioning Vermuyden's work in the 17th-century. There is a shot of the Denver Sluice and of the built up banks just down river at Ten Mile Bank. A tug pulls flat bottomed cargo vessels along the river. Shots taken from a moving waterbound vessel include cows grazing on the banks and steam pumps. There is a shot of a windmill and of fields and a farm. Horse graze on the Wash. Aerial scenes show the floods of 1947, possibly near Welney. The commentary explains efforts to control the water level. A very dark sequence shows men on flood watch before shots of the 1947 floods show the flood waters breaking through at Hilgay Fen. A cow has to be pulled from the flood water by rope. The film shows shots of farms after the flooding and the commentary explains some of the consequences of the flooding for farmers. A man and a horse and cart are seen wading through the mud. A tug, towing several cargoes carries, carries clay to the banks for repair. The clay is carried by miniature railway to the area where it is needed. Men dig the clay into the bank. Farm workers arrive on their bikes. A farmer, Arthur Rickwood, arrives by car to survey the scenes. Women workers arrive on bicycles. This section of the film shows farming scenes. They show teams of men ploughing using crawler tractors. The potato harvest is shown as are harvests of vegetables, fruit and the main grain harvest. Many women workers are employed in these scenes. They also show the use of machinery on a Fenland farm, including a reaper and binder and a baler. The final scenes are of an industrial City and then scenes of London, showing the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben.

Background Information:

The film contains some shots also appearing in `Fenlands' 1945, and features the same farmer, Arthur Rickwood. There are additional shots showing the 1947 floods.

Featured People:

Arthur Rickwood, farmer

Featured Buildings:

Palace of Westminster; Big Ben

Terms and conditions

The Terms and Conditions apply to the website (the Website) and by accessing the website you are agreeing to abide by them.

 We may modify the terms and conditions or withdraw or deny access to the Website at any time at our sole discretion.

In your use of the Website you agree not to, at any time:

  1. Conduct or promote any illegal activities
  2. Attempt to reverse engineer or jeopardize in any way the correct functioning of the Website and its services or otherwise attempt to derive the source code or other code or software that enables the operation of this website.
  3. Use any automatic, electronic or manual process not provided by this website to access search or harvest any information from the website or to interfere in any way with its proper functioning.
  4. Mirror or frame the website or any portion thereof, place pop-up windows over its pages or otherwise affect the display of its pages.

Every effort has been made to exclude or flag content that may be upsetting or cause offence and not to include films that are unsuitable, however the East Anglian Film Archive bears no responsibility for people under the age of 18 viewing the Website or for any offence that may be caused by people viewing the Website. If you feel that some items could cause offence please contact us in the first instance. If you would like to have access to any of the films available for purposes not permitted by these Terms and Conditions, including any commercial venture, then please contact us.


The content of the Website including but not limited to the text are Copyright © 2011 The East Anglian Film Archive of the University of East Anglia.

The copyright in the original film materials and the digital reproductions of all still and moving images herein and their arrangements in many cases may be owned by a number of parties. Any requests for copyright clearance for use of the material should be directed to the East Anglian Film Archive in the first instance. It is the requester’s responsibility to obtain such necessary clearance and the East Anglian Film Archive will not be held responsible for any failure on the requester’s part to do so.

The contents on the Website may be accessed as view only and purely for non commercial personal, educational and cultural interest. Under no circumstances shall any content be downloaded, transferred, copied or re-produced in whole or in part in any manner or in or on any media without the prior written consent of The East Anglian Film Archive.

The East Anglian Film Archive would like to thank those who allowed copyright permission for the use and display of works that appear on this site.


The East Anglian Film Archive has made every reasonable effort to locate, contact and acknowledge copyright owners. There are a small number of cases where, despite our efforts, the copyright owner has not been identified. In these cases, we welcome contact from copyright owners and will take immediate action to gain any appropriate clearances or remove the items if requested.

We do not guarantee that the Website will be compatible with any and all hardware or software which you may use nor that the Website will be available all of the time or at any specific times.

The East Anglian Film Archive makes no warranty that the Website is free from computer viruses or any other malicious or impairing computer program.

The Website contains links to other websites with their own terms and conditions. The East Anglian Film Archive is not responsible for the terms and conditions of these websites.


The East Anglian Film Archive is committed to a high standard of quality in all its work and with this in mind every attempt has been made to present up to date and accurate information on this website. However, visitors need to bear in mind that it is possible that information contained on this website may be out of date, incomplete, the opinion of the author or the opinion  “of the time” and may contain technical inaccuracies and typographical errors. We accept no responsibility for keeping the information in these pages up to date or liability for not doing so. If you notice information that needs to be updated or corrected, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Personal data

The Website may contain some personal data such as names of film-makers, some film participants etc. We have taken all reasonable care to ensure that we operate within the provisions of data protection legislation. If you believe that any of the data on the Website causes or is likely to cause damage or distress to you or any other living person, please contact us with details.

Liability and indemnification

Any unauthorised use you make of the University of East Anglia or East Anglian Film Archive copyright and/or trademarks will constitute an infringement of the University of East Anglia’s Intellectual Property and may lead to legal action and other such remedies in accordance with the governing law.

You agree to indemnify and hold harmless the University of East Anglia and its employees, affiliates and students

Except to the extent prohibited by the governing law the University of East Anglia accepts no responsibility for any use you may make of the Website.

The University of East Anglia is only liable to you for direct losses which you may reasonably be expected to suffer where you can show that such losses were as a result of our breach of these terms and conditions. Any implied warranties and conditions are fully excluded.

Our Liability to you shall in no circumstances include any loss of profit or revenue or any other indirect losses you may incur whether foreseen or not.

Governing Law

The Laws of England and Wales shall govern and the Courts of England and Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction over

  1. The formation, existence, construction, performance, validity and all other aspects of these terms and conditions whatsoever
  2. Any and all claims made by you or us for any and all breaches acts omissions, misuses, liability and copyright claims as set out in these terms and conditions.

The East Anglian Film Archive is owned and operated by the University of East Anglia

© 2011 The East Anglian Film Archive of the University of East Anglia.