The Black Sluice Pumping Station, Boston
The Black Sluice site is highly significant in the story of drainage of the Fenland area which surrounds the South Forty Foot Drain. For the first 300 years of its use as a drainage facility this stemmed from the presence of a sluice gate with accompanying navigation lock.
The pumping station marks an important shift in the management of waterways, as increasing mechanical intervention was used to manage flood risk and ensure sufficient water for agriculture along with South Forty Foot Drain. The pumping station holds high evidential value, with all the original machinery in place.
The Black Sluice Complex has a rich history and plays a significant part in the story of drainage in the South Lincolnshire Fens. The South Forty Foot Drain and first sluice were built in 17th century, as the fenlands were drained to create fertile farmland. However, after local Fenman burnt this one down (hence the name Black Sluice) it wasn’t rebuilt until 1850. The site has adapted and changed over the centuries as our understanding of land drainage and engineering has changed.
This includes the construction in 1946 (and expansion in the 1960s) of Black Sluice Pumping Station. It marks an important shift in the management of waterways, as increasing mechanical intervention was used in a bid to reduce the likelihood of flooding to agricultural land along the Drain. As the catchment and climate has changed though, so has the role of buildings such as this. With the need for sustainable ways to manage water, and the cost of maintaining old mechanical equipment, the pumps were decommissioned in 2018. The complex now consists of a gravity sluice and dual-purpose navigation lock which manages the fresh and tidal flow of water between the South Forty Foot Drain and the Haven.
Though not operated anymore, the pumping station holds high evidential value, with all the original machinery currently in place. It is a rare survival of Ruston and Hornsby diesel engines (with David Brown gearboxes) from the 1940s. The later pumps, of the same design, are also in place showing the engineering advancements in only 20 years. The aim is to preserve these pumps in some form, but also re-purpose the site to preserve the impressive building and create a unique visitor attraction for the town.
It is a rare survival of the pumps and engines from the 1940s in situ. The later pumps and engines installed in the 1960s are of the same design but run on electricity unlike the large Ruston diesel engines.
Heritage Lincolnshire managed the ongoing development of this project at the Black Sluice Pumping Station, Boston site with the aim of taking it from the current point to achievement of development funding. We became involved primarily in 2018 when we were invited to complete an Options Appraisal for the site
Explore the site for yourself here: