Timeline of the Building of the Culverts

May 1838

Meeting about repairs needed on the River Brink?

June 1838

It was agreed to repair the boarded section of the brink with deal boards and oak piles, and part of the brick section should also be repaired. The expenses would come out of the Highway rates. Where this area of repairs was situated we do not know, what was obvious to the people involved has not been recorded!


August 1841 (Partial Arching of the Bury Brook)

Horseware (site unknown) to be filled up and the Bridge (Medieval) to be widened to the width of the Street (High St) by making a brick wall next to the garden of Mr James Caton. It was also considered to arch the river over from the High Bridge to the steps called Descows Steps ?(site unkown) Thomas Darlow offered 25,000 bricks to do the job, this offer was accepted.

This year was the great flooding of the Middle Level Fens, most of the Fens were completely underwater.


More work done but not known where.


Meeting held to discuss cleaning out of the river. A dam was constructed at flagholt (back of the George Hotel) and at the arch (Descows Steps)? Then to mill out the water.

February 1851

Meeting about the serious effects on the Town River navigation and the destruction of the ford or gravel as it was known, because of work taken place by the Middle Level Commissioners. Whittlesey Mere drained in 1850 (may have had a direct effect on water flow through the Town). Also Middle Level had destroyed the road across the Gravel?( the gravel was a crossing near the Northern end of the Town, which would appear to have been a way of getting carts etc across the river) and that they should build a Bridge in its place across the river at the Northern end of the Town and to give compensation for other damage caused on the River Navigation.

25th March 1851

Meeting with Mr Walker Middle Level Engineer who acknowledged the liability for the above complaints, but strongly recommended that the Ramsey Parish should arch over the Town River and provide a landing place for goods at the Northern end of the Town (Mill end)

13th June 1851

Middle Level Commissioners offered £1000 for compensation for not requiring to scour out the Bill Lode, the loss of the Gravel or Ford and a landing place and some Indemnity for not doing the above work.

14th August 1851

It was decided to ask for £1500 for the above.

12th September

Middle Level agreed to the £1500 payment, the offer was accepted. It was also agreed that the most convenient place to build the landing place was at the North end of Town next to the Bill Bridge.

29th April 1852 (First Phase of Building Main Culvert)

The specifications for the covering of the river were adopted and the tenders were left in the hands of the Surveyor of Highways who declared their intention of accepting the tender of Messrs Booth and Lunn (first Contractor for Main Culvert)(assumed Tunnel start?) for a cost of £2000.00.

1st August 1852

Meeting held at the Bill Bridge to inspect the works connected with the culvert and to consider constructing a basin for navigation purposes. Mr Allen Architect from St Ives produced plans for the work to be undertaken. They were accepted,and the Surveyor of Highways were asked to carry these plans out. (Just the Basin?)

November 1852

We are told that in the same year it was built 1852 (seven months after start?), during a flood after severe rain, part of the culvert burst due to the pressure of the water, and in the subsequent summer 1853 (15months after start? guestimate) it was again greatly damaged by a similar cause!

7th October 1853

Mr Walker (Middle Level Engineer) wrote to Edward Fellowes regarding Mr Allens’s plan for additional culverts either side of the main one, to alleviate the above problem. He pointed out that this plan would give 11% less area than the original Medieval High Bridge Arch, but would give an advantage that the sewerage and drains could run into the side culverts, leaving the main culvert clean for culinary purposes!

13th October

Mr Walkers suggestion of accepting Mr Allen’s plan of two side culverts, was accepted with the proviso that the culverts should have their size increased from 5’ 6” to 6’. These were to be built opposite the breaches in the culvert. It seems logical to assume this is where the three tunnels now start near the Jubilee Clock.(since the repairs to the Chamber in 2016, I have discovered that the Jubilee Clock does not stand over the Chamber as previously thought, but 20ft further to the North of the Chamber)

Messers Coker and Oakes (Second Contractor for the side Culverts) tender of £2095-5s should be accepted (19 months after start of the main Culvert). Surveyor of Highways to be requested to give directions for the work to start as soon as the weather permitted and the contract was signed.

1854 Culverts Finished (exact date not known)

If we assume a start date of April 1852 and possibly an end date of December 1854, then the total time taken for building the culverts was roughly 2 years and eight months.