Canvey’s first drainage was created in the 1620s by Dutch land reclaimation expert Cornelius Vermuyden, who made Canvey from marsh to solid ground. Hollowed out Elm trees created pipes, which one was dug up in the 70s now in the Dutch Cottage Museum’s garden. Dykes – ditches, where cut too, and the original water ways are still followed by the modern dykes, mostly concrete channels. One such channel, at a Canvey park (you’ll have to guess where) lead to a large concrete pipe about a metre in diameter going into a new housing area. We entered the pipe with gloves, a torch, a wellies. Please note this was only a water drain, not a sewer, which are inaccessible legally, and contain bad waste and noxious fumes, so don’t get confused!). Going around 6 metres in, it stopped with a brick square ‘room’, with a channel in the floor to allow the water to flow. A manhole cover which was seen above ground, could be seen from underneath! Another concrete pipe continued on around 12 metres, which we followed, but nearing the end, a sludge from year’s buildup was visible on the floor, and with the water level raising as we went further in, it was becoming ill-suited to our casual clothing. Turning out the torch left us in pitch black spare from the light at ‘the end of the tunnel’ behind us. The main reason for turning back, was the uncomfort of the squatting position (I wouldn’t sit down if I were you!) as we also couldn’t stand up. Unfortunately , 2/3rds of the way in, we found a date ’09/11/2001′ or at least similar, meaning we unfortunately didn’t see any slightly historic sections of the pipes, which was our main intention, despite seeing the weird world beneath us all.
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