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ANOTHER MARSHLAND SLUICE DESTROYED. The series of misfortunes in the train of the Middle Level catastrophe seems almost endless. At about six o'clock on Saturday evening the outfall sluice of the Marshland, Smeeth, and Fen Drain-an important arterial drain running into the Ouze about 200 or 300 yards northward of the ruined Middle Level sluice— became the subject of an accident precisely similar to that which destroyed the last-named work on the 4th of May last. The result has been again to flood a portion of the fen country, and thp. extent of the inundation will very probably be in a day or two as great as that of the celebrated Middle Level Deluge." In consequence of the former accident, a great quantity of water had to be discharged off the drowned lands through the Marshland, Smeeth, and Fen drain, and the adjoining Marshland sewer, both of which run parallel for a considerable dis- tance to their outfall sluices-the one draining the Fens, and the other the higher lands of Marshland proper. This unusal test of the two sluices caused some apprehension as to their safety, and in consequence, shortly after the Middle Level inundation, both sluices were strengthened by an apron of clunch, held up by piles being laid against the outer face, and the adjoining banks faggoted and further secured by walls of sheet piling. In the case of the Smeeth and Fen drain these precautions have proved unavailing. Nothing peculiar was noticed about the work until about ten minutes before the injury was fully developed. At that time the sluice-keeper Smith casually observed what he thought was a log of wood across the roadway over the sluice- bridge, and going to the spot found it wasadeenand extensive nssure. He hsd scarcely time to examine it when the bank against the southern side of the sluice fell in with a crash, leaving a gap of 40 feet width in the roadway. The cause of this evidently was that the water rushing down the drain had under- mined and scoured awav the earth behind the southern flank walls of the sluice, exactly as in the case of the Middle Level sluice, but with this difference that the sluice itself (which consists of one arch only) is at present left standing. It is, however, very much injured; the bank on the north side is cracking and crumbling in and in a tide or two the sluice must inevitably fall into ruins. In the meantime the water runs through the gap it has made for itself, and such is the force of the stream out and the tide inward that the bed of the drain is partly filled for a hundred yards upward with bricks, stone, earth, and other debris washed away from the sluice. The oc- currence took place about an hour and a half after high water, and of course on the return of the tide the sea water flowed up the drain, and though the springs have only just began to "put in," the top of the tide was sufficiently high for the water to pour over the banks for a space of some 300 yards above the sluice into the adjoining Marshland drain, running up into the Marshland internal drains and cafising great appre- hension. It also, at a distance of a mile or two up the drain, overflowed the opposite bank, and again flooded some of the identical lands, in the occupation of Mr. Little, Mr. Robert Coe, and others, in Marshland fen, which were drowned by the bursting of the Middle Level banks, and had only yithin the last few weeks been reclaimed and brought into cultivation. The flood has also run through the culverts under the Middle Level drain, and again drowned some of the land in Broad and Short fens, and threatens Bardolph and Stow fens. Immediately the misfortune became known, the Marsh- land, Smeeth, and Fen Commissioners took steps to prevent, as far as possible, its further extension. Mr. William Wright, Mr. James Walker, Mr. Harry Little, and others consulted as to the steps to be taken, and it was at first attempted to make a dam, for the exclusion of the sea water at Thorntou's-bridge, two miles above the sluice, but this was soon abandoned, and, under the direction of Mr. W. D. Harding, C.E., about 200 navvies were set to work to form a dam, with sacks of earth, close to the first bridge above the sluice, near St. Mary's Church, the parapet of the bridge, being thrown down to facilitate the tipping of the sacks. Tho work was continued all Saturday night and Sunday, and considerable progress was made; but there was no reason to hope for its success that day, and the conse- quences of the afternoon's tide, it is feared, must be very serious. Some men have been set to work cradging (i.e., making a small ridge of clay) along the banks of both the Smeeth and Fen drain and the Marshland sewer; but the banks of both are so low in many places, that the lands on both sides are in the greatest danger; and, besides, great apprehensions entertained that the Marshland Sewer Sluice will ere long succumb to the unusual pressure upon it and follow the example of its neighbour. The opinion of all competent judges, and of the residents themselves, is that a very large breadth of country must inevitably be drowned by the approaching spring tides unless the success of the works in progress for excluding the sea water should be all but miraculous. MONDAY AFTERNOON. 1 The second Marshland deluge has set in in earnest. The lands flooded by last night's and this morning's tide already amount to fully 1,000 or 1,100 acres, of which some 50 acres are in Marshland proper, the so-called high-land," which had fortunately escaped the former inundation, and has rarely, for centuries past, been subject to such misfortunes. At present the sluice still stands, but its walls are very seriously cracked from top to bottom, and large portions of the foundation are washed fl.way. The gap which the water has made for itself in the southern bank is now 50 yards in length and half as much in depth, and the precipitous sides of this gulf fall away at intervals in large masses. The northern bank is also extensively fissured, and behind the outer wing wall on this side is a large conical hollow, like the vortex of a whirpool, in which the earth continually sinks, proving that the water ha? under- mined the foundations beneath, and that if the sluice does not shortly fall, it will become quite detached, standing between two chasms, or rather forming a soli- tary mass in the centre of a wide and powerful torrent. The prospect for the occupants of the whole district is indeed terrible, and many of them (not an hour too soon) are making preparations for flight by removing furniture, ] thrashing out corn, &c. Several houses, mostly cottages, < ¡ are already invaded by the flood-those of Mr. Robert Coe's tenants, for instance, being two feet under water. The banks of both the Fen drain and the great sewer are already much injured by the scour through them, and are caving in in several places. In two or three instances near the sluices, portions of cottage gardens, with their crops of vegetables, have slid down into the rushing I stream, and the poor people are hastily digging up their potato and other crops, to realise what they can before they are wholly drowned out or deprived of a home by the impending destruction of their humble dwellings. It may not be uninteresting to mention that the Smeeth and Fen sluice (the subject of the accident) was built and the drain itself excavated in 1832, under the direction of Sir John Rennie, Mr. Dyson being, we be- lieve, the builder. The still erect position of the sluice, under the circumstances described, is a proof that its foundations and brickwork are of very great strength. Its weak point is that jf every such work—the junction of the masonry with the earthwork, where the stream continually seeks an entrance, and often effects one in a place beneath the surface, and thus quite out of view. The damage is only discovered by very careful investi- gation, and then, as has been seen, sometimes too late for any remedy. A fact which ought not to be forgotten in connection with the flooding of the Marshland proper is, that this would probably not have occurred but that the defensive bank between the two drains was some years ago largely excavated and the clay used in making bricks, thus leaving holes and low places over which the water has found immediate vent. Such a piece of short-sighted folly would be incredible, but that the evidence of its commission is still plainly visible, and the fact itself is well-remembered in the neighbourhood.


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