Manuscripts and Special Collections

Unofficial records relating to the East Midlands

Many references to water supply, drainage, flooding and other water-related topics can be found within the records of aristocratic families and estates. The major landowners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were interested in such matters because they affected the value of their lands. In addition, they were often the people who legislated for improvements, as many of them sat as Members of Parliament or served as Justices of the Peace.

The list below is not exhaustive, but should help researchers who wish to look beyond the official records of water-related companies.



Papers of John Evelyn Denison, Viscount Ossington (Os)

There are a number of scattered references within the Os C series concerning drainage at Ossington, and the visit of some Piedmontese to inspect the drainage system (1850s). There are also references to the supply of water and the accommodation for the public at the baths at Buxton (1869) (catalogue records )



Drury Lowe family of Locko Park, Spondon, Derbyshire (Dr)

There are some papers within Dr C regarding current and proposed canals in Derbyshire as well as a plan of Heanor Reservoir (Dr 4C 6/14); also some papers in Dr E regarding the Derby Canal, especially in relation to freight charges, c.1790-1835. (catalogue records )



Monckton-Arundell Family, Viscounts Galway of Serlby Hall, Nottinghamshire (Ga)

A small series of letters and papers concern the River Idle and the Commission of Sewers, 1828-1878, and water quality in the Rivers Idle and Ryton and the mill dam pool at Scrooby, 1913-1924 (Ga 2 E 1589-1611)  (catalogue record )



Papers of Frank Granger (1864-1936), Professor of Classics and Philosophy, University College, Nottingham (Gr)

A scrap book of newspaper cuttings, includes a picture of the 'Great Flood of 1875' (Gr S 3/1/1-25) (catalogue record )



Holden Family of Nuthall Temple, Nottinghamshire (Hn)

Series Hn Ec 1 contains some correspondence, c.1830s, regarding the River Devon Drainage scheme. Hn Ec 2/11/1 gives details of a flood prevention scheme along the River Devon, Smite and Car Dyke, with plans of bridges, cross sections, and map of lands which flood in Alverton, Bottesford, Cotham, Elston, Farndon, Flawborough, Flintham, Hawton, Kilvington, Normanton, Shelton, Sibthorpe, Staunton, Stoke, Syerston and Thorpe (Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire), 1842. (catalogue records )



Papers and correspondence of Sir Peter Kent, FRS (NCUACS 43.5.93)

This collection includes 'Ewerby (Sleaford) Boreholes' 'basic strata logs' for four bore-holes sunk by Anglian Water 1985-86 (PK B.119)



Kirke Family of East Markham, Nottinghamshire (Ki)

Includes a letter from Richard Tye to his wife, including a plan of a method to draw water, 1747 (Ki 100/1/1-2)  (catalogue record )



Manvers of Thoresby (Ma)

At Ma B 241/1-23 there are letters concerning the altering of the course of the River Leen (Lord Manvers threatened legal action in 1871 over the state of the Rivers Trent and Leen, leading to the Leen District Sewerage Bill which received assent in 1972. 



Willoughby Family, Lords Middleton, of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, Middleton, Warwickshire and Birdsall, Yorkshire (Mi)

Examples of water-related documents in this collection are as follows:

  • Mi E 3/1/6: Correspondence including report on work on a weir at Muskham, 1675.
  • Mi E 4/27: Correspondence providing report on flood damage to North Muskham bridge, 1684.
  • Mi E 8/19: Printed prospectus of the General Land Drainage and Improvement Co., 1849
  • Mi E 20: Papers concerning canals and proposed canals in Nottingham and Bristol, 1785-1792.
  • Mi E 31/23-24: Correspondence referring to plans to fill in the old course of the River Trent near Crankley, Nottinghamshire, 1859.
  • Mi 3 E 15: Sale particulars of South Muskham estate including draft deed relating to continuance of water supply from Stapleford Hall Farm, 1924.

(catalogue records )


MS 168/1/1-19

Papers mostly relating to improvements in the outfall of the River Welland near Boston, Lincolnshire, 1794-1846 (catalogue records )


MS 176

Landing book of the Cromford Canal Company, Derbyshire, September-October 1825 (catalogue record )



Newcastle (Clumber) collection (Ne)

This very extensive family and estate collection contains many documents relating to water. 

  • Series Ne A includes some material regarding payments to William Fillingham for work on the Cromford Canal, the Melton Mowbray Navigation and the Leicestershire Canal; and accounts from William Mason detailing charges for drainage work (catalogue records )
  • In series Ne C there are considerable amounts of correspondence relating to water issues. For instance, correspondence regarding land drainage issues, 1841 (Ne C 8803-5); letter regarding weir construction at Gamston, 1783 (Ne C 4354), and sketch of mills, weir and flooding at Gamston, 1783 (Ne C 4357) (catalogue records )
  • There are various deeds in series Ne D, including conveyances to the Nottingham Canal Company, 1793 (catalogue records )
  • Ne E 65 is a copy of a legal case between the Duke of Newcastle and the town of Nottingham concerning the maintenance of the banks of the River Leen, pre 1770 (catalogue record )
  • In series Ne 3A there are various references to the costs involved in land drainage, 1830s (catalogue records )
  • Ne 5 P 20 is a plan showing the planned straightening of the Rivers Smite and Devon in Flawborough, c.1790 (catalogue record )
  • Ne 6 E contains agent's reports which include information on fish poisoning in Newark Canal, flooding at King's Meadow, an application to build a reservoir at Clowe, accumulations in the Trent near Newark Mill etc.
  • Series Ne 6 P (especially Ne 6 P/1-7) includes various plans showing the Chesterfield canal, plans of the sewage system at Worksop and the River Ryton, drainage at Winkfield and various other water related subjects, mid-eighteenth century onwards



Worksop Manor Estate Nottinghamshire (Nw)

Examples here include a bundle of correspondence and estate papers relating to drainage from several cottages at Shireoaks, Nottinghamshire; 1901 (NW 163-167); plan of a proposed new sewer at Churchwalk [Worksop, Nottinghamshire], 1879 (NW 279); and plan indicating proposed improvements to the River Ryton at Worksop [Nottinghamshire], Sep. 1886 (NW 282) (catalogue records )



Nottingham Park Estate (NPE)

Series NPE/P/2/5 contains a number of drainage/sewerage plans, 1857-1968 (catalogue records )


Portland (London) Collection (Pl)

  • There is a great deal of material relating to public works (railways, tramways, gas and water undertakings, etc.) affecting the Duke of Portland's estates in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, 1800-1926, in series Pl E12/11. This includes papers concerning the Nottingham Corporation Water Act, 1896-1903, in sub-series Pl E12/11/10. (catalogue records )
  • Pl L7/3/1-8 contains papers relating to the Sewage Utilization Bill, 1865, and opinions on its possible effects on the Duke of Portland's current use of sewage at Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. (catalogue record )
  • The Duke of Portland was also involved with drainage matters concerning Everton and the River Idle. Papers relating to this, 1801-1863, are numbered Pl E12/11/9. (catalogue records )
  • Pl E12/6/19/165/19/1-2 is an award of the arbitrators in a dispute over the building of a weir or dam head, affecting the flow of water to cotton mills in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 1808 (catalogue record )
  • There is a copy report of a meeting held to discuss proposals to drain lands in North Nottinghamshire; 27 Feb. 1796 (Pl E12/7/3/4/5) (catalogue record )
  • Finally, in the correspondence section, Pl C, there are various scattered references to flooding and flood damage (catalogue records )



Portland (Welbeck) Collection (Pw)

Printed notices about improvement of flood bridges in Nottingham, 1795, are numbered Pw F 9920-1. (catalogue records )

In series Pw H there are various pieces of correspondence, including correspondence regarding drainage at Sansom Wood on the Welbeck Abbey estate, 1851-52 (Pw H 2667- Pw H 2699/1-2) (catalogue records )


Next page:  Unofficial records relating to other areas


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