Downham Market (south), Norfolk, plus Denver

Posted by davidearl on 7 May 2009 in English (English)

Started work on the town of Downham Market, a half hour train ride north of Cambridge. Downham is about 7,000 people (well, 2001 census, so it's probably more now), so one or two more sessions should do it - though I got a bit side-tracked this time away from the endless bungalows of the southern outskirts of the town, into Ryston Hall estate and related hamlet, Fordham hamlet (where I got lost among farm tracks which didn't go where I expected) and mainly the delightful village of Denver which among other things has a working windmill with a welcome tea-room-cafe for a hot afternoon and the Denver Sluice complex (south west of my marker). That is a major piece of flood and water engineering where the tidal River Ouse and the parallel major flood relief drain out to the Wash are linked to the southern river network along the Bedford levels. There's a broad canal called the Cut Off Channel which according to the signs used to drain into the Relief Channel through one of the three huge sluices but has now been closed and the flow reversed so that water runs many kilometres south east to Barton Mills near Mildenhall where it is pumped through a 40km tunnel and on to Essex to quench the thirst of its inhabitants. There's also a deep lock in the middle of the complex to carry boats from the upper river into the Relief channel - though curiously there's no connection into the Bedford rivers - you'd have to go down to Ely and across to Earith to get back to the bottom of the western sluice.

Location: Downham Market, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Norfolk, East of England, England, United Kingdom

Comment from davidearl on 7 May 2009 at 17:59

One other thing about Denver I omitted to say is its appearance in Dorothy L Sayers' Wimsey novel The Nine Tailors. At the beginning of the story, Wimsey (who is Duke of Denver) crashes his car into one of the dikes in the new year snow. Rescued by the villagers of Somewhere St Someone (as many of the villages in the central fens are named) he takes part in ringing the new year changes on the church bells, and therein lies the plot...

Comment from Richard on 7 May 2009 at 20:24

There is - happily - a connection. It's the main route from the canal system to the Great Ouse.

From the Middle Level (Well Creek), you pass through Salter's Lode Lock onto the tidal Great Ouse. You turn right here, almost certainly ignoring the Old Bedford River (because the connection through Horseway and Welches Dam locks isn't currently navigable) and the New Bedford River (because it's very boring), and continue to Denver Sluice.

Here you can lock into the non-tidal Ely Ouse; and here, too, you can take the new lock onto the Relief Channel towards Kings Lynn.

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