Curators Choice – Atkinson’s Illustrations

These drawings were created by Alfred Atkinson. Atkinson was the Surveyor and Engineer for both the Commissioners of Sewers for the wapentakes of Manley, Corringham and Aslacoe and the Commissioners of the Ancholme Drainage and Navigation Authority. He had this role for over 50 years from 1870 to 1925.

Henry VIII created the commissioners and courts of sewers in 1531 to maintain drainage of agricultural land prone to flooding. ‘Sewers’ referred to any watercourse used to drain land. The commissioners could force landowners to repair drainage works to protect land used for farming. The Courts of Sewers became Land Drainage Boards in 1930.

Surveying and mapping land was important for drainage management. It meant the commissioners could easily see who owned, and therefore was responsible, for what parts of land. Maps were also important for planning new drainage schemes and updating old schemes.

In this video, Collections Officer Rebecca Lucas takes a closer look at the drawings of Alfred Atkinson in the Museum’s collection.

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