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Potteric Carr drainage
Potteric Carr, Doncaster, Yorkshire
associated engineer
John Smeaton
date  1765 - 1768, 1772 - 1777
era  Georgian  |  category  Drainage System  |  reference  SK594997
Potteric Carr is the smallest of three adjoining low-lying regions bounded by the Rivers Ouse, Trent and Idle, that covers some 10,625 hectares to the south east of Doncaster. They were drained by engineer John Smeaton during the 18th centruy, which transformed boggy fens into valuable and productive agricultural land.
Potteric Carr covers 1,720 hectares between Doncaster, Rossington and Wadworth. There was a small lake, Old Eaa, in the northern half of the region and the River Torne flows to the north east. Today Potteric Carr is bisected horizontally by the M18 motorway, with the A630 leading northwards from Junction 3.
Smeatonís proposals included constructing a network of new drains, embanking natural watercourses and providing outfalls into the Rivers Don and Torne. He appreciated the need to separate the flowing waters in rivers and streams from the precipitation falling on the land to be drained.
The open channel drain into the River Don at Friars Bridge would be connected to the 'Mother' (main) drain across the carr by a short tunnel near Balby. The main drain would connect directly to the River Torne 1.2km east of Rossington Bridge by means of a sluice, to maintain water levels during dry weather.
Work was completed in three stages — 1765-8, 1772-4 and 1774-7. A new Rossington Bridge was built during the first stage, and by the end of the project the total length of cuts were 7.4km on the River Torne, 7.2km on the Mother Drain and 12.9km on branch drains.
During the first half of the 19th century, the area was planted with trees but many of these were destroyed when the Great Northern Railway was built across the carr in 1849. The railway was an important part of the emerging coal mining industry in the Doncaster district.
Underground coal seams from Rossington Colliery underlay the whole of Potteric Carr, and from 1951 subsidence began to have an effect. By 1965, the area around Low Ellers had returned to marshland while Balby Carr was flooded.
In 1968, part of Potteric Carr was designated a nature reserve, which now covers more than 2 sq km. Its habitats include open water, marsh, reed fen, wet woodland and scrub — reminiscent of the carr of the 17th century, before Smeatonís intervention.
Research: ECPK
"John Smeaton, FRS" by Professor A.W. Skempton
Thomas Telford Limited, London, 1981

Potteric Carr drainage