Manuscripts and Special Collections

Unofficial records relating to other areas

Many references to water supply, drainage, flooding and other water-related topics can be found within the records of local 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, sitting as they did as Members of Parliament or 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.


Denison family of Ossington, Nottinghamshire (De and Os)

Series De H includes plans of canals and proposed canals in Yorkshire, 1752-1814. (catalogue records )

A letter from W.T. Denison, Woolwich, London, to J.E. Denison, dated 1844 (Os 2 C 168), discusses drainage and sewerage in detail. (catalogue record )


Mellish of Hodsock, Nottinghamshire (Me)

The geographical position of the Mellish home in north Nottinghamshire meant that their interests often lay across the border in south Yorkshire. The following items relate in particular to the River Dun:

  • Letters and papers concerning navigation schemes of the corporations of Doncaster and Sheffield, particularly concerning a bill to declare the Dun a navigable river from Ouse by the new cut, 1722-23 (Me C 19) (catalogue record )
  • Letters concerning the Court of Sewers and River Dun Navigation, 1724 (Me C 20) (catalogue record )
  • Letters and papers concerning Navigation on the River Dun, 1730-31 (Me C 23) (catalogue record )
  • Papers belonging to Joseph Mellish concerning Hatfield Chase, the River Don, the River Went, the River Aire and the River Calder, Yorkshire, 1690-1728 (Me E 19) (catalogue record )
  • Papers including letters from W[illiam] Jessop to Joseph Mellish concerning a plan for the navigation of the River Dun, 1730-32 (Me E 26) (catalogue record )


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

Papers in this collection include: 

  • Lease of land and rights for the erection of a reservoir and waterworks at Norton, Yorkshire, 1914 (Mi 4 Da 198)  (catalogue record )
  • Plan of waterways linking London and Portsmouth, n.d. (Mi E 12/40) ( catalogue record )
  • Bundle of papers relating to the sale of the Middleton estate, Warwickshire, including arrangement regarding water supply, 1924-25 (Mi 3 E 491/1-90) ( catalogue record )
  • Papers relating to the Bill for better supplying Wakefield and neighbourhood with water, 1874 (Mi 3 E 572/1-5) (catalogue record )


Manvers of Thoresby (Ma)

At Ma 4151-Ma 4156, there is material relating to water supply at Bath, Somerset.


Newcastle (Clumber) collection (Ne)

This collection includes: 

  • Accounts for drainage work in the Fens, 1753-64 (Ne A 457-508) (catalogue record )
  • A report 'relative to raising the height of the Mill Dam at Boroughbridge', Yorkshire, 1825 (Ne C 6823/4) (catalogue record )
  • Correspondence concerning opposition to a sewerage bill in Brighouse, Yorkshire, 1846 (Ne C 9393, Ne C 9394) (catalogue record for Ne C 9393/1 )
  • Material regarding improving the Thames and Isis rivers, 1770-72 (Ne E 101-109) (catalogue record of first item)
  • Plans showing canals in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and North Wales (Ne P 22). (catalogue record )


Portland (London) Collection (Pl) 

  • In series Pl E14 there are various resources regarding sewerage and drainage at the estate of the Duke of Portland at Aldrington, Hove, Sussex, 1819-1927. (catalogue records )
  • At Pl E18/1/4/10 there is a bundle of parliamentary papers and correspondence relating to the Troon water supply in Ayrshire, 1890-1892 (catalogue record )
  • East Anglian papers include correspondence and Bill (Eau Brink cut) relating to the diversion of the River Ouse etc., 1821-1822 (Pl F8/4/3/1-5); and Report to The Company of Proprietors of the Great Level of the Wash, with plan, 1 July 1839 (Pl F8/5/1/1) (catalogue records )
  • Finally, there is a bundle of correspondence etc. regarding the sewage and drainage at the Kingsclere Racing Stables, 1908-11 (Pl F10/3/33/1-25) (catalogue record )


Portland (Welbeck) Collection (Pw)

Similarly, the Dukes of Portland's interests in East Anglia and Ayrshire are represented in this collection. The collection includes items regarding drainage around the Wash, 1845 (Pw H 179-186) (catalogue records ); correspondence relating to water shortage in Ayrshire, 1847 (Pw H 375) (catalogue record ); and papers concerning Fen Drainage Improvement, 1818-26 (Pw Je 978-1015) (catalogue record ).


Harley family (Pw2 Hy)

The Harley family papers include scattered references to the New River Water Company, London, 1701-24, in series Pw2 Hy (catalogue record )


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

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