History and ownership
The original Black Sluice was probably the Skirbeck Sluice where Earl of Lindsey's 1635 attempt to drain what was then called the Lindsey Levels ran to the sea. The ensuing battle with the population left the works destroyed, and this seems to be the origin of the name Black Sluice. The name became associated with the area drained by the original 40 foot drain, and has been used for each successive outfall from the area, and for the name of the authority responsible for the drainage. Created in 1765 the Black Sluice Commissioners are succeeded today by the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board and a range of interlocking boards and authorities:The Witham and Steeping Rivers Catchment Board, Lincolnshire River Board. National Rivers Authority, and now the Environment Agency.
There have been at least three Black Sluices, the latest of which incorporates the pumping station built in 1946.
The lock which gave passage past the Black Sluice fell into disrepair after the second world war, but has recently been restored to full operation as part of the Fens Waterways Link scheme to improve navigation through the fens for pleasure craft. The new lock can handle boats up to 21 metres (69 ft) long, 6 metres (20 ft) broad, and with draught of up to 2.8 metres (9.2 ft) on the most favourable tides. While the lock itself has no airdraught restrictions, London Road Bridge, immediately upstream has limited headroom in the form of an arch at nearly 3.4 metres (11 ft) in the centre and as little as 1.7 metres (5.6 ft) at the lowest usable point. Connection to Lincoln is further restricted by the size of the lock at the Grand Sluice, which is 12 by 3.7 metres (39 by 12 ft), although longer vessels can pass through at certain states of the tide.
Black Sluice Lock is not permanently manned, so bookings for transit will need to be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance.
There is a small visitors centre at the new Lock.
- South Forty-Foot Drain for considerable detail about the various sluices.
- The Forty Foot drains in Lincolnshire
- Fens Waterways Link
- River Witham
- Cornelius Vermuyden
- Newspaper report of lock re-opening
- Geographs of the Black Sluice pumping station
- Tourist information
- The Easterling, June 2009 Journal of the East Anglian waterways association, describing the re-opening and giving a detailed history of the waterway and construction of the new lock.
- Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board