Records of the Engineer's Department of the Trent River Authority and its predecessor bodies, 1903-1975

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The records from the Engineer's Department make up a large proportion of the material from the Trent River Authority and its predecessors, and date mainly from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are a few files and some photographs which date from the beginning of the twentieth century.

The papers include incoming and outgoing letters (RE/C) and a considerable number of plans. The plans are divided into two series - Drawing Office plans (RE/DO), and Deposited Plans (RE/DP). More single miscellaneous plans are listed separately (RE/P). There is an interesting series of photographs (RE/DOP) which record the various stages of many engineering schemes as well as depicting life for residents of areas subject to flooding before the introduction of flood protection schemes, etc.

A very extensive series of files (RE/F) relate to all geographical areas and waterways covered by the river boards, detailing large scale projects, emergency work (e.g. air raid precautions, flood repairs) and complaints. They can sometimes contain copies of maps and plans. The series continues with administrative files relating to staffing, offices and depots, and files concerning relationships with other bodies, e.g. parliamentary bills, town planning schemes, and sewage disposal schemes devised by various local authorities. These files continue to the 1970s.

Other material includes estimates, invoices, tenders, registers of grants received for undertaking various schemes of work, and printed publications and reports. Chairman's conference minutes have now been moved to join governance material from other departments under a separate collection (RG).

An accrual of material consisting of papers relating to plans for future water resource development, via the search for a site for a reservoir and the regulation of the flows of the Rivers Dove and Derwent, includes documents and proofs of evidence (some by the Authority's Engineer, Marshall Nixon) used during public inquiries into the suitability of a site at Carsington, Derbyshire (RE/WR/RS). The papers relate to the period 1964-1973, and although an application for a compulsory works order was submitted in 1973, the reservoir was not finally completed and filled until 1992.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Land Drainage Act of 1930 created the Catchment Boards of England and Wales which were to have oversight over main rivers and which were funded by precepts from other authorities including Internal Drainage Boards and County Councils. The River Trent Catchment Board was established in May 1931. Its predecessor bodies included a number of early drainage, navigation, and warping companies which were absorbed by or amalgamated with the River Trent Catchment Board in 1941. The River Boards Act of 1948 brought together the responsibilities for drainage, fisheries and pollution under single authorities and on 1 April 1951, the Catchment Board became the Trent River Board, taking over the functions of the Trent Fishery Board. The next change of name occurred on 1 April 1965 when, following the Water Act of 1963, the Trent River Board became the Trent River Authority. The Authority was responsible for flood prevention and land drainage along the 'main rivers' in its area, conserving, monitoring and developing water resources, controlling water quality, preventing pollution, and managing fish stocks and angling licences. The 1973 Water Act created new Water Authorities with comprehensive management of the entire water cycle and so the River Authorities were dissolved.

The first Engineer to the River Trent Catchment Board was Walter Haile who was succeeded in 1953 by Marshall Nixon. The Engineer's Department continued to exist until the Trent River Authority was dissolved under the 1973 Water Act.

In order to organise engineering works, the Trent Catchment Board was initially divided into 4 main areas, the Northern Area with its own office and resident engineer at Gainsborough, the Home Area, the Southern Area and the Stafford Area. The Trent River Board and Trent River Authority continued to maintain this basic structure although there were some later changes in divisional boundaries including the abandonment of the Stafford Area as a separate division, and the introduction of a Keadby Division which was subsequently merged into the Northern Division.

The largest of the three land drainage divisions, the Home Division, comprised most of Nottinghamshire with the exception of the Trent Basin north of Newark, most of Leicestershire with the exception of the Mease basin in the west of the county and a large part of Derbyshire excluding the Chesterfield area and the Dove Basin in the west. The Division included most of the major towns in the East Midlands region including Nottingham, Mansfield, Worksop, Retford and Newark in Nottinghamshire, Leicester, Loughborough and Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire and Derby, Matlock, Bakewell and Buxton, Derbyshire. The main watercourses included the River Trent (middle reach) and the Rivers Idle, Ryton, Derwent, Soar, Sence (Soar tributary), Erewash, Leen, Maun and Wreake. The Home Division also included the Rivers Idle and Ryton Internal Drainage District and several pumping stations including Keadby and Dirtness.

The Northern Division incorporated the Trent Basin in Nottinghamshire to the north of Newark and the Trent basin in Lincolnshire to the east of the River Trent. It included the whole of the River Trent Tidal Reach, the Bottesford Beck and the River Eau and short lengths of the Fosse Dyke and Beckingham Drain, as well as the Hatfield Chase Corporation Drainage District. The Keadby Divison, which later became part of the Northern Division, included the River Torne, North and South Soak Drains, Hatfield waste Drain, Snow Sewer and other watercourses. The main towns within the Northern Division were Gainsborough and Scunthorpe.

The Southern Division incorporated most of Staffordshire, part of Derbyshire in the Dove Basin, the Mease Basin area of Leicestershire and the Tame and Amber Basins in Warwickshire. The main towns in the Division were Stafford, Stoke-upon-Trent, Uttoxeter, Burton-upon-Trent and Tamworth in Staffordshire, Ashbourne in Derbyshire and Nuneaton and Birmingham, at that time within the county of Warwickshire. The main watercourses in the southern Division were the upper reaches of the River Trent, and the Rivers Dove, Tame, Anker, Sence (Anker tributary), Churnet, Cole, Sow, Penk, Mease, Blythe and Blithe and the Foston and Meece Brooks. The Division also included the Sow and Penk Drainage District and the Elford Internal Drainage District.

The Hydrology/Water Resources Section of the Engineer's Department was managed separately and had its own filing system at its offices at Trentside, West Bridgford Nottingham, so these files have been treated as a separate collection (RH).

Arrangement

The material has been arranged in series according to form. The subsequent arrangement has been largely based on that employed by the Trent River Authority and its predecessor bodies.

Conditions Governing Access

The bulk of the collection is accessible to all registered readers. However, access may be restricted to some files which include material which may have data protection issues, or are less than 30 years old.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

Typescript Catalogues to file level

At the National Register of Archives, London:

Typescript Catalogues to file level

Online: Online catalogue available from the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Conditions Governing Use

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

Custodial History

Small groups of documents were transferred to the University Library in the 1960s, but in 1974-1975 (when Severn Trent Water Authority took over), it was decided to transfer the bulk of the records of the Clerks, Engineer's and Treasurers Department's of the Trent River Authority (and predecessors), relating to activities in the Trent basin. Material from subsequent large accruals has added further papers of the Engineer's and Clerk's Department, along with governance material (RG) and the papers of the Hydrology/Water Resources Section (RH). The records of the Prevention of River Pollution and Fisheries Departments are not present. This catalogue was produced in 2011-2012 with support from The National Archives Cataloguing Grants Programme.

Related Material

Manuscripts and Special Collections also holds the records of other departments of the Trent River Board/Authority (Clerk's Department Ref: RC, Treasurer's Department Ref: RT, Hydrology Department Ref: RH, Governance records Ref: RG); also their predecessors (Trent Navigation Company Ref: RtN, Brigg Court of Lincolnshire Commissioners of Sewers Ref: Br, Court of Sewers for the Level of Hatfield Chase/Hatfield Chase Corporation Ref: HCC, Trent Fishery Board Ref: RTF); their successors (Severn Trent Water Authority Ref: RWA, Severn Trent Water Ref. RST, National Rivers Authority Ref: RRA, Environment Agency Ref: REA); also records relating to sewerage and water supply (City of Nottingham Water Department Ref: R/HR, Derwent Valley Water Board Ref: DVW, Stoke Bardolph and Bulcote Model Farms Ref: RSB, Papplewick Pumping Station Ref: PPS, Nottingham New Waterworks/Northern Waterworks Company Ref: MS 880); also papers of an employee of the Trent River Authority (H.R. Potter Ref: HRP).