Monday, 1 March 2010


We’ve been trying to follow the lines of some Grimsby drains.

Much of the town is built on marsh or around outlets and creeks. Most of these water courses have disappeared or been diverted or culverted. But their footprint (flowprint?) can often be detected or get in the way of developments. We enjoy the definite dip and slope in Laceby Road near Barry Avenue now that we know we are crossing Piper Creek (which formed the original Grimsby - Little Coates boundary). We point out to people the gap in the new extension at Strand Community School necessitated by the major East Marsh Drain crossing underneath the school playground at that point.

At the weekend I took this picture of the new culvert being put in at the Grimsby Institute in preparation for the new University Centre building there. We had spotted the fact that it follows the line of the stream which was reshaped into the South Field Drain. Armed with evidence from 1840 - a published picture of Nuns Farm with a river and small bridge in front of it and the Enclosure Map - we tracked the probable line of the Drain until it would have come across Bargate having passed behind a house in Eastwood Avenue which we noticed is called Brookside. People spend their time off in different ways.

And I remembered U A Fanthorpe’s poem Rising Damp about the lost rivers of London.

These are the currents that chiselled the city,
That washed the clothes and turned the mills,
Where children drank and salmon swam
And wells were holy...

which sometimes

... return spectrally after heavy rain,
Confounding suburban gardens. They infiltrate
Chronic bronchitis statistics...

and they bring to her mind

... other rivers that lie
Lower, that touch us only in dreams
That never surface. We feel their tug
As a dowser’s rod bends to the source below:
Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, Styx.

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