Skip to main content


Title: The Ouse washes (folder)
Author: Environment Agency Anglian Region
Document Type: Monograph
This Environment Agency booklet is divided in two parts. On the one hand, it shows the historical changes of the landscape of the Ouse Wahes. The landscape of England has changed dramatically throughout the centuries. Few areas have undergone so complete a change as that part of the Cambridgeshire Fens known as the Ouse Washes. Running from Earith in the south to Denver in the north, it has been drastically altered by man. From being a wet and frequently flooded land unsuitable for farming, it is now one of the most fertile and productive areas of England. Additionally, the changes man has made to mould the land to his own use have created an area of great international ecological importance. To understand the impact man has made on this environment, it is necessary to look at the lives that were lived on the Fens 400 years ago. It was a harsh and unhospitable area - with large parts flooded year round. Summer grazing was possible in some areas, but only when the tides allowed. The people who struggled to survive in this dank land were uncompromising and insular. These folk, the Breedlings, were a people apart who fought desperately to preserve their harsh way of life. On the other hand it shows the "Denver Complex", based on the story of the drainage of the Fens, the Ouse flood protection scheme and the Ely Ouse-Exxex water transfer scheme. The Denver Complex forms the focus of the flood defence system that protects the low lying lands of the Fens from inundation by the sea and fluvial (or freshwater) flood. Its construction has a long history, and The Environment Agency now has the responsibility of ensuring this vital flood protection to the lands, people and infrastructure of the Fens is secured. In a massive arc around the Wash lies the great Fenland plain. Only 5% of the total area of England and Wales is classified as first class agricultural land, and yet almost the whole of the Fenland falls into this category. Today, these are England's most prosperous agricultural areas, but their plenty has been hard won.
Publisher: Environment Agency
Publication Date: [after 1996]
Publication Place: Peterborough
Subject Keywords: Land useEnvironmental factorsAgricultural developmentWetlandsHistory
Geographic Keywords: CambridgeshireThe FensOuse WashesEA Anglian
Extent: n.p.[47]
Total file downloads: 329

Download PDF    Display PDF in separate tab