Friday, 15 May 2009

Vermuyden and the Van Man

Cornelius Vermuyden was a Dutch drainage engineer who was brought to England by a Dutch relative, to assist with the reclaimation of Canvey Island in the Thames estuary.

Born in 1590, he arrived in Canvey at the age of 31.  His brilliance soon came to the attention of the King at that time, Charles I.

After being involved with many projects, in 1640, he masterminded the widening of the River Nene below Horseshoe Sluice and the cutting of a new channel at the mouth of the Nene through the salt marshes to the sea. 

In 1650, Vermuyden, who was now a British citizen, spearheaded the digging of the New Bedford River and the Forty Foot Drain. This project also established Denver Sluice to stop tides and flood water from depositing silt into the Ouse to the east of Ely.

Vermuyden fathered 13 children, lived to the ripe old age of 87 and there is still a Vermuyden school at Canvey.

It is therefore, not that surprising to see a narrowboat bearing his name.

What IS surprising, is what is contained between the cabins on the boat.

Why is it there ?

How does it get on and off ???

The boat, which was seen at Oundle has markings saying Lynn Union Water Transport Ltd - Canal Carriers and Towage Services - registered in March, Middle Level Navigation.

I've no idea who Lynn Union are or what they do - nothing comes up if you google the name, but the boat was sure interesting.

The entrance to Oundle Marina is very narrow - there are narrowboats inside the basin, but there is no way we could get a decent swing in the narrow Nene, in order to get through this gap.

Oundle Mill is a pretty as a picture.

The lock alongside is typical of a lock in this part of the world.

The bottom gates are formed by a single guillotine door, which raises and lowers electro-hydraulically. The top gate consists of two conventionally mitred wooden gates with a rack and pinion paddle mechanism.

In times of heavy rain, the guillotine is left in the up-position and the swollen river flows over the top gate and right through the lock chamber, unchecked. 


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