Draining fen country

#Picture Number ST223

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Victorian illustration to download showing navvies constructing a drain in fenland country. They have dug out the sides of the broad drain first so as to let the water drain away; now they are tackling the central section with shovels. They have made a wooden stage and plank bridges to take the black mud to the banks in wheelbarrows. The path of the drain is marked by poles with flags on top. This is Whittlesea Mere in Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire), which extended for about 3000 acres. It was once used for boating, punting, fishing, wild-fowl shooting, and skating in winter; reeds for thatch were harvested here, and peat was dug. In 1850-51 it was drained for agriculture. Background hills and sky roughly drawn.