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27° Julii, 1927.]


elementary proposition.-Due to the main


4723. This seems to illustrate very well the relatively short time it takes for the water to reach the peak height and the relatively long time it takes to get back again? Yes.

4724. That is the whole point of this diagram. If I may draw a line across there, then I have to contrast this bit of it, which is the mounting part of it, with the bit there, which is the falling part? Yes.

4725. That is the whole point of it; that is just the difficulty. The river rises only too easily, but the difficulty is to get it to fall again, is not it? Yes.

4726. Would any method which enables the fall to be accelerated be advantageous?-Yes, certainly.

4727. Have you considered Mr. Binnie's scheme from this point of view, that he hopes by means of this scheme to get the water away from the Washlands quicker than at present?-By shutting down Welmore Lake Sluice.


4728. Yes, by his scheme?-You asking something I do not think anybody can subscribe to.

4729. This shows the existing matters; the period of fall is two or three times the period of rise?—Yes.

4730. Anything which can bring the periods of rise and fall nearer to each other in point of time, the better?-Yes.

4731. If it be the case that Mr. Binnie's scheme will secure a more rapid run-off out of this safety valve reservoir, so much the better?-Yes.

4732. But you do not think he will?Not with closing down the sluice.

4733. Is it your view that this sluice at Welmore Lake should always operate automatically?—Yes.

4734. And that there should be no means available whereby the introduction of water, let us say from the South Level, which may happen to be at flood, into the stream should be brought into accommodation with the outflow from the Washlands; let it take its chance. that your view?-I think so, yes. You use chance" there, of course, in a very wide sense. I would say under natural

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4735. At the present moment your diagram shows your figure of 114.5, or, as we call it, 14, has been reached more than once?—Yes.

4736. You have been nearly up to 15, have you not?-Yes, I believe so.


aim of Mr.

4737. You know the Binnie's scheme is not to exceed 13.65, a foot on top of the weir ?—Yes.

4738. That would be a better state of matters than is happening at the present moment?-If he can realise it.

Re-examined by Mr. VAN DEN BERG.

4739. It has been pointed out to you there have been five or six Inquiries. In your view, does that constitute any justification for spending some millions of public and private money a bad scheme, even if this should be the seventh Inquiry? No, certainly not.


4740. You heard Mr. Binnie say he thought it was better to have a bad scheme than no scheme at all; you do not agree with that?-No, most decidedly not.

4741. The big point as far as the works are concerned, apart from the Seven Holes Sluice and Welmore Lake Sluice, upon which you differ from the Promoters, is that you say the Hundred Foot River is the key to the whole drainage question? Yes, that is so.

4742. And it is put against you that that is Mr. Robins' opinion against that of the Promoters ?-I am afraid so.

4743. Let us see if that is correct. That is your opinion; it was the opinion of Vermuyden, was not it?—Yes.

4744. Of Wheeler ?-Yes. 4745. Of Rennie?-Yes. 4746. Of Preston ?-Yes.

4747. And I know not how many other people?-Mr. Case.

4748. And Mr. Case?—Yes.

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4751. Yes?-And I believe that we had a sluice scheme, Mr. Crocker's.

4752. So if we put the competitive views in the scales there would not be any question which side would go down first? I think we have the balance of weight.

Mr. Macmillan.] Would not you add the considerable weight of Sir Alexander Gibb after his evidence yesterday?

Mr. Van den Berg. 4753. I did not hear it all. (To the Witness): Is not this a land drainage question?-Decidedly.

4754 From your reading of history was not Vermuyden a land drainage engineer?-Nothing else.

27° Julii, 1927.]


4755. And Rennie?-He was to a great extent.

4756. Wheeler ?-He spent all his life in the Fens.

4757. You have spent a good deal of your time in the Fens?-Less than half my life.

4758. I will not ask you how much that is, but the Committee can judge. That is the considered view of all these people?—Yes.

4759. Mr. Binnie, on the other hand, has had nothing to do with land drainage?-He says so.

4760. He said so, and we must accept it. He has never been engaged on any river comparable with this?-Not so far as I know.

4761. Is this scheme, which is an absolute departure from all those eminent predecessors, an absolute experiment?Certainly.

4762. It is clear if you and the other eminent gentlemen I have referred to are right about the Hundred Foot this vast sum of money is going to be wasted?So far as the upper parts are concerned.

4763. So far as the works in the Washes are concerned?—Yes.

4764. If, on the other hand, your views and the views of those who think like you are adopted, there is no risk of losing this money, is there?-No.

4765. Because it cannot but do good to improve upon those foundations which have been laid down for two centuries and acted upon since ?-That is so.

4766. It is for the Committee to say whether they will risk this large sum of public and private money upon the opinion of Mr. Binnie and Captain Roseveare upon their experiment?-Certainly. 4767. You have been asked something about the Inquiry out of which this present scheme was born, and you have told Mr. Macmillan you were not present? No.

4768. You do not know whether witnesses were cross-examined by Counsel? -No; I do not know anything about it. 4769. Do you happen to know they were not?-I take it so from what I have heard.

4770. You have had no opportunity of seeing their evidence?-No.

4771. You do not know what was said? -No, it is all a sealed book-a Star Chamber.

4772. You do not know what were the deliberations of the Commission themselves?-No.



4773. All you know is that there was an Inquiry, certain gentlemen gave evidence, and this is the result?-Yes.

4774. As my learned friend reminds me, it is the result of the Commissioners' views. We do not know, of course, what the evidence was. Now if Huntingdon

has any difficulty to-day, as you said, in getting rid of her waters, would the whole of that difficulty be removed if you took away the artificial works?-Certainly.

4775. It being your evidence then that Huntingdon could get rid of all her water without any difficulty, but for the works constructed for the benefit of the Fens? That is so.

Lord Treowen.

4776. I would like to ask one question following on that last question of learned Counsel with regard to Huntingdonshire getting rid of their water. That would be conditional on your getting a greater capacity of water into the One Hundred Foot River?-No. Previous to all these works being done, if I may go back a great number of years, that part of Huntingdon lies just on the level of tidal influence-I do not mean sea water, but the fresh water is raised and lowered by the tide for some little distance up, and that portion of Huntingdon lies just at that extreme end. Before any embankments were put up at all the water spread itself out over the waste land and got away, that is to say a film of water would run away, and it would go away, but directly you start to confine that water in between two channels you are naturally raising the height of the water so as to discharge the same amount of water down the river. It is like this. Here is a sheet of water going here as that depth (describing).

4777. I understand that, but it seems that you are eliminating altogether from consideration the fact that when Vermuyden made this canal some 200 or 300 years ago and it has been going ever since? That is where the trouble is. It is generally considered that all these works were done for the benefit of the Uplands. They were done for the reclamation of the Lowland.

4778. I understood from your evidence that this had got rid of all the water up to the year 1812?-We had, but we overran the whole of the Fens so they then had to put in protective works in Rennie's time to save this land and bring


27 Julii, 1927.]


it into cultivation. It was not for our benefit, as Uplands; it was for the Lowland benefit, to reclaim this land.

4779. Then for all this neglect which you say has taken place, when the One Hundred Foot is put right, and it will mean really a One Hundred Foot of river -you would be no better off than you were before?—Yes, we should get back then to the year 1812, or 1809, when it was proposed by Rennie that the One Hundred Foot river should be scoured out and made of a sufficient size. I have his book here. If we get back to those conditions we are perfectly satisfied.

4780. If that were done Huntingdonshire would be satisfied?-Huntingdonshire could not ask for anything further, because they have agreed to all these Acts of Parliament which were passed in the past.

4781. It would be satisfied; it would have its water removed, and it would be prepared to pay for it?-I do not know about prepared to pay for it, because of course that should be done by the Bedford Corporation, not by us.

4782. That is a matter of assessment; at any rate it would have to pay?—I do not know of course; that is out of my province, I think.

Mr. Riley.

4783. Mr. Robbins, do we take it that you, in Huntingdonshire, are quite content to leave things as they are now?Yes.

4784. You have nothing to complain of? I would not like to say we have not anything to complain of, but what we do say is that the cost of the works in the Wash will be of no benefit to us, and they are an unnecessary expense, so far as we are concerned. That is leaving out the Hundred Foot River altogether.

4785. Is it not a fact that you do have some flooded areas?-Above, you mean? 4786. In your area you have flooded areas? Yes; they are all marked brown on the map there.

4787. Would not the improvements with regard to the Hundred Foot River tend to remove those difficulties?-Improvements in the Hundred Foot River, leaving out the other works?

4788. Yes? Yes, improvements in the Hundred Foot River would certainly assist.

4789. Taking the case of the outfall improvements, would not the works down


at the outfall also assist in the removal of floods that you are now subject to in the Huntingdonshire area?—I think the whole of those works are really essential, but what I grumble at in my evidence is that they will lower the low water level at Denver, but they stop there and say it will not be any benefit to HuntingdonIshire if we take that lower low water level up to Earith. I say what is sauce is sauce for the gander. If it will be advantageous to Denver Sluice it must be advantageous to us to do the same thing.

Mr. Campbell.

4790. May I ask you this, Mr. Robins? You seem rather to disparage Mr. Binnie's schemes, principally, as far as I can judge, because you consider them experiments?—Yes.

4791. Now are you not of opinion that the £2,000,000 original scheme was also an experiment?—No.

4792. It was done some time ago. Can an experiment never be improved upon after a certain lapse of years, when it has proved to be not quite as beneficial as was anticipated?-I think you are hardly putting the question in a fair way to me if I may say so. For instance you would never take somebody up in an aeroplane and drop him out when the first parachute was made. You would use some weight to test the parachute first, and here too, I have never heard it suggested by any engineer that the throttling of water at any time can advance a discharge of the water. That is to say, supposing you have a sluice, and you close the sluice down and then open it again, you do not mean to tell me that that is going to increase the discharge of the water down the river. What they are going to do is to shut down the sluice for a certain time and let the Denver water go away, because they say the convergence of these waters create a swell and therefore both the waters are held up. They gave the analogy of passing traffic.

4793. I think I raised that point?Yes. They are getting through traffic the whole time with one set of vehicles, they are only letting the byepass come in when all the rest of them have gone away, and our point is that I do not know how long that run on the main line would last for. Our traffic may be held up for any length of time, and by the time that we are allowed to go through our water has risen to the same

27° Julii, 1927.]


height as it was before, and it may, in fact, be higher.

4794. Are not your objections principally based upon the amount of finance which Huntingdonshire will be called upon to pay?-Not my engineering objections; I believe those are some of the objections.

4795. There were several questions you replied to and you said, though you approved of them, you thought it was rather- ?-I would rather put it this way. It is a waste of money. Huntingdonshire is perfectly ready to pay its share if it gets a proper benefit.

4796. If somebody else pays for it, would you object to it then? No, I do not think you should put that upon us. The point is we are going to have £190,000 in that Wash business.

4797. You mean the channel is not going to be touched?-The subsidiary works are going to cost money, which we say is absolutely unnecessary.

Mr. Heneage.

4798. If this Brownshill staunch did not extend up to this distance, would the tidal water flow?-Above Hemmingford sluice; it is just below St. Ives; that is the limit of tidal water.

4799. And to that extent you are interested in the works that are being carried out down below?-Yes, as I have acknowledged.

4800. Have you got a drainage system in Huntingdonshire?-Do you mean the upper Ouse?

4801. Have you got a local drainage system?—Yes; there are two or three separate Drainage Boards.

4802. And do the Uplanders send their water to them?-We have to pass the water through the main channel.

4803. And are they taxed for itrated for it ?-The lower levels are taxed. 4804. But not the upper?-No, the upper pay nothing.

4805. But you have to deal with their water?-We have to deal with their water, yes; it passes through us.

4806. Does that create a feeling of injustice among your Lowlanders?—No. 4807. You do not mind?-No, there is no injustice in it.


4808. As far as the Denver sluice question is concerned, would you be satisfied if the water at Denver sluice occasionally held up, when you have too much water coming through Welmore sluice?-I should welcome that.



4809. Would that be an engineering practice? It would not be feasible, not so far as the South Levels are concerned; it would be on all fours with our case.

Sir Murdoch Macdonald.

4810. Mr. Robbins, not having studied the river itself and that sort of thing, could you tell me what would be a maximum flood discharge at some point just south of tide level-I am taking all the streams added together-what would be the discharge that you would have to deal with?-Mr. Binnie, in his evidence, gave one-fifth of an inch as obtained, from being the analogy of the Thames. He forgot, I think, to give in his evidence that in 1894 there was threeeighths of an inch run-off from the Thames valley. Now the run-off in the area is dependent, not only on the rainfall, but also on the condition of the ground at the time when the rain comes. If you get snow and a heavy fall on the top of it you may very easily get up to half to three-quarters of an inch. There is nothing going into the ground at all, and it simply runs off quickly. In general engineering works estimate a maximum of three-eighths of an inch in the 24 hours, and to go to actual rainfalls, of late years we have had no excessive rainfalls. Those who have not studied, or been connected with drainage works, have no idea of what the rainfall have been in the past for about 10 years. If I may give you one or two I think that will open your eyes to the conditions. We have here in 1857 series of dry years; in 1875 we had 34.25 inches in the year.

Lord Monk Bretton.



4811. In that area or'what?-On the east coast, here. 1876, 31 inches; 1880, 37.12; 1882, 30.50; 1883, 30.87; 1886, 30.25. Those are all common knowledge in our area and they will be here; they have got the records and if they are looked up they will find there are the same conditions. Now Mr. Clayton stated, I think, that one one-hundredth of the total rainfall for the year was to be the amount to be taken as the maximum run off. If you take one onehundredth of 34 and 35 inches you get .34, assuming he is correct. That is three-eighths of an inch, and threeeighths of an inch of rainfall represents one cubic foot per acre per minute, so if you have 726 acres you are getting

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27° Julii, 1927.]


726 thousand cubic feet per minute instead of 3,700 and something or 4,700.

Sir Murdoch Macdonald.

4812. So one of the differences between you and the promoters of the Bill would be that this 4,700 figure that is entered as water entering the Wash lands, the maximum figure given, might be greatly exceeded? It is only an average figure, that is what we say; it is not a maximum at all, and has no relationship to the maximum. It is not sufficient.

4813. Just one other view of the matter. As I seem to understand it from reading the evidence Vermuyden made first the old Bedford drain.-Yes.

4814. Then other adventurers came along and wanted further reclamation works done, and the One Hundred Foot River was constructed?-No, I think that is hardly correct from what I understand of it. Vermuyden made first of all the Old Bedford river; it was not found to be sufficiently large; he then made the One Hundred Foot River. Then subsequently, in 1812, the Wash people came along; they saw this Wash land between the East and West banks and in the same way as the adventurers had done before with the Fenlands, they said: "Here is some good grazing land, if we can enclose it and keep the water out except at certain heights of the water we shall have summer grazing."

4815. So when these works were done in 1812, they did alter the original scheme?—Yes, most decidedly; they did not cut any new channels but they embanked it.

4816. But with the condition that existed in 1812 and for some considerable time subsequent to that, you were satisfied with the water getting away down the Hundred Foot Level?-From evidence I think we could produce we estimate now that the One Hundred Foot River is 50 per cent. below what it was at the time the Wash lands were enclosed between the two rivers.

4817. Are you able to prove, or do you assert that as a consequence, your condition south of Earith is worse?—Yes; we have evidence that the lands up above the grazing lands, up above Earith in the Bluntisham district in the "sixpenny" area we are being asked to be brought into, are very much worse to-day than they were 50 years ago.

4818. The promoters have put forward a scheme whereby, as I understand, the


level up stream is going to be lower than it has been before, because of letting more water go over the weir?-Yes.

4819. And to that extent there is going to be an improvement?-Yes, but not in the low water level that we require. I think that is the whole point that we are fighting on and where the difference of opinion comes in. We are speaking of two different things; one is a high flood level in winter time, the other is a low water level, which we require for draining the land, not for simply getting the flood away. You must have your water

low so as to drain your land and get it aerated. You may improve a river as much as you like, but there are always times when you get one of these exceptional floods, when you find that your flood level up above your sluice is only some few inches lower than the maximum ever known before any improvement was made. And that too is pointed out by Mr. Clayton that you get a parabolic discharge from the sluice, and as you go away a short distance from your sluice you have lost all your extra required fall.

4820. Your case really amounts to this, that, first in 1812, certain works were done for the benefit of the Wash lands? --Yes.

4821. And that now futher changes are going to take place which you think will not sufficiently ensure, even your present position?-No.

4822. For the sake of avoiding the risk of inundation in the South Level, because these are the words on page 12 of the Report, it says, "On the other hand any improvement of the Hundred Foot river would tend to bring down water more rapidly from the Upland area, involving the risk of inundations in the South Level owing to the raising of the Low water level at Denver Sluice "?-Yes, but they forget there that they have already improved the tidal portion of the river; they want to have it all, and restrain us from using any part of it.

4823. I am afraid I have missed the point of what you have said; would you mind repeating it? They forget that we are already paying for all the work done below Denver, whereby they claim they will lower the low water by four feet, under this scheme. Now they want to take the whole of that lowering of four feet for the advantage of the south level drainage, and to store our water up until that water has got away.

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