Historic papers about draining of Fens to be catalogued online with �28,000 grant

THOUSANDS of historic papers and maps about the draining of the Fens more than 300 years ago will be catalogued thanks to a �28,000 grant.

The award, from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme, will enable archivists to create lists of the documents left by the Bedford Level Corporation which made the Fen drains during the 17th century.

All the information will be catalogued online by Cambridgeshire County Council’s archives team.

Alan Akeroyd, archives manager, said: “We are thrilled to have won this grant. It confirms that the history of the fens is not just important to the people of Cambridgeshire, but nationally too.”

The project is also supported by the Environment Agency and the Cambridgeshire Family History Society.

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Before the Earl of Bedford and his Adventurers began their work in the 1630s, famously employing Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden, the Fens were covered by water for much of the year.

The scale of the undertaking was vast and the huge work to complete it led to centuries of repeated new technologies to bring the Fens to their current flood-protected state.

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As their work progressed, they created many thousands of documents about the draining and about the people and places they affected.

All these irreplaceable documents will be catalogued as part of the new project, which will be completed in 2013.

The National Cataloguing Grants Programme is a �1.5million fund administered by The National Archives at Kew to tackle cataloguing backlogs.

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