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8° Novembris, 1927.]
Mr. EDWARD JOHN SILCOCK.
4862. Will you point it out on those maps to their Lordships? (Maps handed in and explained to the Committee by the Witness.)
4863. I think it is fairly clear?-It commences at that point at the north at the end of the Fisher Fleet and continues down the centre of the River Ouse to a point about 300 yards south of the mouth of the River Nar. The River Nar does not come on to this map.
4864. Mr. Silcock, along this stretch upon the eastward side of the River it comprises, does it not, first Fisher Fleet -that is a berthing place for fishing vessels?—Yes, that is where the fishing boats from King's Lynn berth when they are in port. We then come to the Dock Company's premises, which is protected from the sea by banks and walls.
4865. King's Lynn Docks comprise extensive factories, warehouses, and other buildings, for all of which, before they could come into being, proper provision had to be made which you will deal with later?-Yes.
4866. Then we come to the Corn Exchange, a bank, baths, the Common Staithe Quay, the Globe Hotel premises, certain dwelling houses, and the South Quay railway sidings, various granaries and other buildings, the Mill Fleet and the Boal Quay, and most of them are directly on the River frontage?—Yes, you may take it the whole of the River frontage is protected by wharves, retaining walls, or buildings, and embankments which are maintained by the Railway Company-the London and North Eastern Railway Company. Those are the protections which extend along the whole of that front.
4867. Now, have all those buildings been in existence for long, long years?Oh, yes.
4868. Do they form a most effective barrier against inundation from the Ouse?-Yes.
4869. Has a vast sum of money been spent on maintaining and making these various works which have the effect to which you have alluded?—Yes.
4870. The position was put to Mr. Binnie by one of my friends for the Promoters: "The position is that, as one is coming down the river from Denver Sluice, when you get to the
neighbourhood of King's Lynn you come to the stretch between the Fisher Fleet and Eau Brink Cut which is in the hands of the Lynn Conservancy, and which is already sufficiently protected by the groynes they have erected and under their charge?-(A.) Yes. We came to the conclusion the channel could be dredged to a sufficient depth already without repairing the banks." Does that statement really, describe the position resulting from the detailed description you have given of it? Yes, that is so. The only comment which I would like to make is that, of course, the dredging must not be carried too near the existing wharves and buildings, otherwise if the dredging were carried to a great depth it might necessitate some strengthening.
4871. From that point of view, dredging might do harm and not good?—Yes. 4872. As to whether it can do good, you will have something to say later?Yes.
4873. That being the position of King's Lynn, I want to ask you this question : Had this development of King's Lynn any relation to the Vermuyden works or to the state of affairs which brought Vermuyden's works into existence?-Absolutely none.
4874. Had King's Lynn developed as a town many, many years before Vermuyden's works and the earlier works were heard of?-Yes. King's Lynn was a. Port of importance and а wellestablished town long before any of the artificial drainage works were undertaken in the Fen district. The first Charter of King's Lynn was in 1200 odd.
4875. 1170, I think, is the date King John?-1170, at any rate, about that time. It was long years before ever the Duke of Bedford took in hand the
drainage of the Fens, and before Vermuyden was brought over from Holland, so this question of the drainage has no connection whatever with the position of King's Lynn.
4876. So King's Lynn had developed as Borough sufficiently to have a Charter granted to it as a Borough in the reign of King John?-Yes.
4877. Prior to Vermuyden's works, is it a fact that, as regards the Great Ouse, which now drains out by King's Lynn, its natural course was not there, but into the sea at Wisbech ?-Yes. The original course of the River Ouse was into the River Nene and it was through the artificial works which were carried 03
8° Novembris, 1927.]
Mr. EDWARD JOHN SILCOCK.
out in connection with the drainage of the Fens that the main River Ouse was brought down to Lynn at all. The water which came down to Lynn was confined to the River Ouse, the Wissey and the Nar. Those tributaries of the Great Ouse naturally fell to Lynn, but all above that point, all above the Little Ouse, went away to the River Nene.
4878. The waters of that river SO diverted are a main factor in the proposition which this Bill seeks to deal with, are they not?-Yes, certainly.
4879. Even before that was done, had King's Lynn developed to a prosperous Borough ?-Yes, it was, I believe, the fourth most important Port in the country at one time.
4880. As we know, the problems of these districts are that they would be flooded unless the water from the uplands can be carried through them rapidly to the sea?—Yes.
4881. That is a pure drainage problem for the areas concerned?-Yes.
4882: Has the problem for King's Lynn always been, and is it still, not a matter of drainage, but a matter of a protection against the tide ?—Yes. The floods and flood water from upland had no effect on Lynn at all and never had.
Chairman.] I think we see that point.
4883. I will pass from that point, my Lord, as your Lordship is good enough to say that. (To the Witness.) What do you say: Is there any risk of King's Lynn being flooded from-we will deal with land water first ?-None whatever.
4884. Is there any prospect of it being flooded at all, having regard to its position and its protective works?—No, none at all.
4885. As a matter of fact the Commis sion recognise that, do they not, because in their Report in paragraph 30 they say: "The only work which would appear to be necessary between Fisher Fleet, at the south end of the Marsh Cut, and the lower end of the Eau Brink Cut, would be to deepen the channel by dredging, at estimated an cost of £10,000 "?-Yes.
4886. Now I want to ask you, would that work of deepening be of any use to King's Lynn from the point of view of drainage?-None whatever.
4887. Do you go this length and say that so far from being of advantage from
a drainage point of view, it might conceivably in the way you have already indicated, be a detriment from a drainage point of view?-Yes, from the point of view of the security of propertyyes.
4888. Now let us see: Is the whole of the built up portion of the town properly sewered and drained by a complete modern system?-Yes.
4889. Therefore, is there any problem of drainage for King's Lynn to solve in any way whatever?-No, the whole of the sewers in King's Lynn are worked by gravitation, and they have outfalls into the River or into the tributaries of the River which are all well above low water level, and there is no question at all of any advantage which could be obtained by the Lynn sewers by the lowering of low water line.
4890. Therefore, when I put this question to Mr. Binnie: "As far as you know, we have no problem of drainage to be solved at King's Lynn" and he said As far as I know," he had solid facts for that statement ?-Yes.
4891. Now I put it to Mr. Dobson at Question 3074 and I asked him whether: "The principle upon which the Report of the Commission proceeds and which you adopt is that only those lands shall become the subject of charge which are to benefit from the proposed works apart, of course, from the charges on the county, which is another matter.(A.) Yes. (Q.) Am I right in that?(A.) That is so. (Q.) Therefore I am right in assuming that it is only those lands that would be so included that have, so to speak, drainage to deal with, and the problem of drainage to solve?— (A.) Yes." Now, Mr. Silcock, is there any possibility, in your opinion, of King's Lynn benefiting from the point of view of drainage from these works?— No, in my opinion there is no improvement can be effected by these works.
4892. Is there any possibility of their benefiting in any way other than possibly by an improvement of the channel to their Harbour?-That is so.
4893. That point, as we have heard from my learned friend, Mr. Macmillan, this morning has been agreed between the Conservancy and the Harbour Authority. They are to be paid if that results? Yes.
4894. The same principle of benefit has been followed in relation to King's Lynn
8° Novembris, 1927.] .. Mr. EDWARD JOHN SILCOCK.
4895. Taking the 1915 Order, that was a Bill to provide for very much the same works as the present Bill, was it not?— Yes, practically the same works.
4896. Practically the same works?— Yes.
4897. There was never any suggestion or thought of asking King's Lynn to contribute anything to those works?— No order was made for them to pay.
4898. In 1920 was there a proposal to bring King's Lynn in which was in the main part withdrawn by the Board of Agriculture, when the position of King's Lynn was pointed out to them? -Yes.
4899. Therefore, under that Order only a very the small part, and that undeveloped part, of King's Lynn, was brought in and that only in respect of a particular work for a very small
4900. So that even in 1920 the principle of King's Lynn having no interest was fully exemplified just as in 1915?Yes.
4901. Now, Mr. Silcock, there are just one or two other points I want to put to you. In the Report of the Commission, among the reasons that were given was: "If the work is not done, we are of opinion that inundation sooner or later is inevitable." Pausing there, does that statement in any way apply to King's Lynn?—No.
4902. They go on and say: "And that the danger of the district returning to its original condition of swamp is very real." Does that in any way apply to King's Lynn?-Oh, no. If King's Lynn
was a swamp, it was very many centuries ago, and there has never been any fear of its returning to that condition.
4903. If these works are not done, whatever happens to the land around, will King's Lynn be in as good a physical condition as it is to-day?-Quite.
4904. Again they say: "If this large and valuable tract of agricultural land is to be secured against inundation, improvements must be made "-there is no need, is there, for any such improvement for King's Lynn ?-No.
4905. Again they say: "The Fenlands are of too valuable a character as food providing areas to be subject to the risks of being flooded by the Upland waters."
Is there any risk whatever to-day, if nothing be done, of King's Lynn being flooded by upland waters?—None what
4906. Again they say: "The works are not so much needed for the improvement of the adjacent land, which is already drained, as for carrying away the upland waters in times of heavy rainfall and preventing a serious inundation of the lowlands." Has that any operation or meaning at all with respect to King's Lynn?-No, none whatever.
4907. So that taking all these reasons the conditions in King's Lynn are such that none of them apply to King's Lynn? -None whatever.
4908. Very well. Now let us with the actual position of the outfalls of the sewers. First of all the Commission say on that: "We are satisfied that the lowering of the 'low-water level, which is bound to follow from the works recommended, will facilitate the emptying of channels draining into the tidal river and will therefore be of benefit in providing a greater storage for flood water during the periods when tidal sluices are closed." Pausing there for a minute, can that again, have any relation to King's Lynn?-No.
4909. "As this lowering would take place throughout the entire length of the tidal river, benefit would, in our opinion, be afforded wherever the drainage of the lands discharges through channels whose inverts are now below low-water level." ?-Yes, that does not apply to King's Lynn.
4910. I was going to say even for our sewers, our own drainage, not the drainage of the upland water which never comes to us, are the outfalls of our sewers above low-water level in every case?-Yes.
4911. Therefore there is not one outfall even for ordinary land drainage as to which it could be said that this suggested benefit referred to as a reason in the Commissioners' recommendations, could apply?-No.
4912. Will you just give to their Lordships the height of the various outfalls for this land drainage in relation to tidal level? The sewage?
8° Novembris, 1927.]
Mr. EDWARD JOHN SILCOCK.
4920. Will the effect probably be to rather increase the time during which our sewer gates are closed, than to decrease it?—Yes, I think it is likely to have that tendency. The effect of these works, in my view, will be to make the time of flood and ebb tides more nearly equal than they are at present. The result of that will be that the length of ebb will be reduced and the flood tide will take longer and therefore will rise up to the level of the sewer outlets at an earlier period of the tide, and there will be a shorter period for discharge than there is at present.
4921. Therefore we have already provided, as you have told the Honourable Member, sufficient storage for our sewerage during the times of high-water mark, and the works proposed would, if anything, rather tend to make more storage required and not save us anything, but possibly, if it has any effect at all, cost us scmething?-Yes.
4922. But there is, so far as we know, ample provision for storage even for the altered circumstances to which you have alluded?-Yes, I think there is.
4923. It was the necessity of having to provide sewers of this huge size that caused so much expenditure to be made
in the scheme to which you have referred ?-Yes.
4924. Then there is also a point, is there not, in connection with that: There is some importance to be attached to the fact that King's Lynn is so near the mouth of the river and quite close to the sea?-I think that is a most important point. The geographical position of King's Lynn in relation to the river is of importance from this point of view, that the water which we discharge from the sewers into the river is discharged into the sea in the Wash on the same tide within a few hours of its actually having fallen or been discharged into the river. Therefore it is out of the way long before the water from the uplands comes down even for the rainwater which we discharge, and rain which takes place in King's Lynn, drains into the sewers and the sewers discharge it into the river, and that water has gone away in a few hours. If there happens to be low water, it goes away forthwith. It is hours afterwards, and days sometimes, before the highland water gets down to King's Lynn at all, therefore the water we discharge has no effect whatever upon the discharging capacity of the river as far as upland waters are concerned.
4925. It is fair to say that by reason of this situation of King's Lynn at the mouth of the river no appreciable difference in top level can be made?-Absolutely.
4926. Can any flood water coming down from the river attain an appreciably greater height than high water mark ordinary spring tides?-No, the height of the water at Lynn is regulated entirely by the tide, not by floods at all.
4927. Even before you had this sewerage scheme had the Borough been carried on for ages, even through every spring tide, without any record of any inundation taking place?-I will not say any inundation. I will agree there was once a false tide which did cause some inundation, but that is many, many years ago. It is ancient history, but there has been no sort of a threatening of a flood in Lynn for the last 40 years certainly.
4928. By reason of this effectual sewering is it now in a better position than ever?-Yes.
4929. We are told they just put a mark on the map and said anything within this 20 foot contour is to be taken. I have dealt with our case as differentiating it from the rest of the area within that 20 foot contour line, but is there even in
8° Novembris, 1927.]
Mr. EDWARD JOHN SILCOCK.
the Borough a considerable amount of land which is above the 20 foot contour line? Yes, there is, in fact, an area which is above that level.
4930. That is in a part of the Borough that is most developed, I think?—Yes, it is in the centre of the Borough where the most important property is situated.
4931. The area of the Borough forming part of its best rateable value is actually above the 20 foot contour?—Yes.
4932. Yet that is proposed to be inIcluded in this Bill?-Yes.
4933. Do the heights of the Borough vary from 18 feet up to something over 20 and 21 feet?-Yes; I think the highest point is higher than that, but there is a substantial area which is above the 20 foot contour.
4934. The area in High Street and Norfolk Street is 23.97 above ordnance datum?-Yes.
4935. In Norfolk Street and Tuesday Market, and in the district inside Tower Street, Blackfriars Street, St. James Road and St. James Street, and also in High Street and Saturday Market, are there parts which go up to 21 feet?Yes.
4936. In all those districts they vary from 18 to 21 feet, according to the particular part at which you take your measure?-Yes.
4937. Are you speaking of the bench mark or the levels of the ground?-I am speaking of the levels of the ground.
4938. So that there it is. All these areas I have dealt with-and there are other areas 18 to 20 feet, such as King Street, Queen Street, and Austin Street and Cattle Market district 19 to 20 feet. Those are other districts which are in the neighbourhood and getting towards 20 feet? Yes.
4939. When you have dealt with that area as a whole that I have described, you have substantially dealt with the greater part of the rateable value of King's Lynn, or a great part of it?A great part, yes.
4940. Is the whole Borough above the 15 feet?-No; there are some parts on the eastern side remote from the river which are below that level. The highest ground is near the river which forms a barrier against the tide, which is our only danger.
4941. All that is well above the 15 feet. Is that high-water level or flood level? -That is about the height of ordinary spring tide, 15 feet. We do
get tides above that, but not very often; they have to be what we call extraordinary spring tides which are forced up by the wind.
4942. Therefore all this land to which we have specially referred by description is from 3 to 6 feet, and in the one case of High Street and Norfolk Street 8.97 feet above the ordinary spring tides?— Yes.
4943. I do not know that their Lordships will want to have the details, but I was rather challenged by my friend, Mr. Bidder, as to the height of the staithes and the quays-the height of the quays; I think, the lowest one is 16 feet and they go right up to 19 feet?—Yes, they generally run to 18 and 19 feet, the Common Staithe Quay is the lowest, that is the oldest quay of all, and that is below the height to which the tide rises occasionally; the water just comes on to the quay but it does not extend very far.
4944. The banks of the Nar so far as tidal sluices are concerned, are 17 to 21 feet above ordnance datum?-Yes.
4945. So that you have been protected in all those ways from the tidal water, which is your difficulty, to an extent of not less than 2 and in most cases 3, and in some cases more feet above the height of ordinary spring tides?—Yes.
Chairman.] I think we quite realise the position of King's Lynn so far as its levels are concerned.
4946. If your Lordship pleases. When I referred to some of these measurements, I told my learned friend Mr. Bidder if he would wait he would hear the evidence, and I was rather anxious that he should, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Is there any fear at all of any silting in relation to King's Lynn, Mr. Silcock? -No, the silting has nothing to do with Lynn at all so far as drainage is concerned.
4947. I think the Corporation have recently spent £10,000, have they not, in reconditioning the Boal Quay ?-Yes, they have rebuilt a public quay which is now let on lease to a firm who are bringing steamers there for a regular line of traffic to the Continent.
4948. I think that has been let on a long lease to a big firm of shippers on quite good terms?—Yes.