The Fenlands

1974, Fens (Other)

Educational film describing the geography of the Fenland.

People visit the flower fields in Spalding, Lincolnshire. An animated diagram shows Spalding, the Wash and the Fenland area. Throughout the film, maps and diagrams are interspersed with aerial and close-up shots. The landscape of the Fenland is man made with drainage channels cut out of the Old and New Bedford Rivers as well as other channels including the Nene, the Welland and the Witham. Drainage has led to more land under cultivation. A map shows areas of silt and peat; the two types of soil are very different. The land in the Fenland is below river level. So there are houses with their foundations exposed and steps leading to the doorway. Roads are uneven and cracked. The 1947 floods at Hilgay Fen meant cattle had be saved. New relief channels were cut to prevent this happening again. A sequence shows Denver Sluice in operation and the channels leading to it. Water is channelled through floodgates controlled by a central computer.This meant that embankments needed to be strengthened and drains cleared. The commentary explains how farming has improved. A New Holland combine works harvesting carrots, peas and potatoes during the beet harvest. Plums are picked at a fruit farm and strawberries are processed in a canning factory. A market gardener is at work as are stallholders selling produce. A pie chart shows land use and employment patterns in the Fenland. Fenland agriculture does have its negatives such as the infamous Fen Blow. Top soil is blown across a road. Trees have been planted and experiments made in intercropping to counteract erosion. A crop sprayer works. There remains inadequacies in Fenland transport such as the road at Suspension Bridge, Welney and then of the site of a disused railway line. A map illustrates a suggestion that a sea wall be built across the Wash. This hasn't yet happened.

Featured Buildings

Denver Sluice

Keywords

Drainage; Farming; Land reclamation

Other Places

Hilgay Fen; Spalding; Suspension Bridge, Welney

Background Information

Intercropping is the method of planting green crops and grain crops in alternate rows.

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