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Cock Fen Pumping Station, Bedford Bank East, Welney

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This pumping station (PS) is 1½ miles north of Welney at the head of Cross Drain, and pumps water from it up into the Old Bedford River (OBR) on the far side, thence north-east, discharging by gravity into the Tidal River at Salters Lode via the Old Bedford Sluice (OBS).

It is owned and operated by the local drainage authority, the Upwell Internal Drainage Board (IDB). Although independent, the IDB nevertheless receives considerable administrative and enginering assistance from the Middle Level Commissioners.

The station was built in 1975 and although efficient has little architectural interest.  It was the first at this site and has a total output capacity of 2.04 cumecs (m3/sec) in order to drain parts of the IDB's eastern area that could no longer be drained to the north or west as previously.

The OBR has very little fall towards Salters Lode, and when the OBS is shut due to tide or siltation, the flow in the OBR can reverse and flow as far "upstream" as the PS at Welches Dam (WD). The role of the latter is to pump flood- water from the Cranbook Drain and two other IDBs out of the OBR into the Delph, and its capacity was designed just for that. To avoid overloading WD PS, the Great Ouse River Authority (GORA) insisted that Upwell IDB must pay to have a barrier constructed (by GORA) on the OBR upstream from here to prevent Upwell IDB's water reaching WD. The barrier is in the form of a single vertical sluice gate about a hundred yards north of Welney Bridge built in 1973.

On my first visit here I assumed the station was electric-powered, with diesel standby motors. I have since been assured by one of the IDBs operational staff that it is solely diesel powered; however operation is automatically controlled.

The station is a hundred yards or so north of where a wind drainage mill is shown on the first edition 1" OS maps of the 1820s, and named as Dixon's Mill on the old Tithe Map of 1836-1850, but which became derelict many years ago and later demolished, although one or two courses of the base brickwork can still be seen.

page last updated
19 October 2013

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This side view gives some idea of the relative water levels. The Cross Drain is well below the bottom of the metal fence and the Old Bedford/ Counterdrain (to the left of the grassy bank) was about level with the pumphouse roof when this photo was taken.
side view

A thick carpet of algae in front of the intake grill on 3rd June 2010.

Upwell IDB published a notice In the Cambs Times of 11th June 2010 advising that they "propose to install an automatic weedscreen cleaner at Cock Fen PS near Tipps End, Cambridgeshire"
Well, they certainly need one here, but the address is for somewhere else.
Very strange.

The inlet side in June 2010

Cross Drain
looking north west along Cross Drain. A lot more algae on the way!

Cross Drain
The outfall seen in June 2010

Cross Drain
The outfall seen in March 2011

a satellite view displayed by Google in 2010 shows location of current pumping station.

Approx site of the old wind drainage mill (named on the old Tithe Map 1836-1850 as Dixon's Mill) taken from OS Maps, which also show another building just south of the mill, with the track between them.

satellite view
Satellite view by Google

Text and photos except where noted © Eddy Edwards, 2010-12

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Pumping Stations Index
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