At Misterton, along Soss lane can be found two magnificent brick pumping houses, either side of what is known as the Mother Drain. Most of the large ditches and waterways in the region are referred to as drains. The Mother Drain runs parallel to the Idle for a good deal of its latter length.
Here the banks of the Idle are high, as the river cuts deep and the impressive earthworks are a haven for wildlife and wildflowers such as theres cranesbill/geranium. There are many footpaths which entice the inquisitive walker.
The only sounds are distant dog barks, and once again the twitter of swallows – thankfully still here as summer itself gradually departs.
During the reign of the latter, Dutch methods of draining were adopted in many parts of England, and great schemes were devised and carried through by the Dutch engineer Vermuijden. To his skill this county is said to owe the Morther Drain. But it is possible that this is to be identified with the Bycar Dyke of the Romans. It is deep and canal-like and runs alongside the Idle, but at a much lower level. The water from fourteen and a half square miles of fenland south of the Idle flows into minor drains and from them into the Morther Drain. About a mile up the Idle is Misterton Soss. Here there is a pumping station which raises the water from the low level of the drain to a height sufficient to enable it to flow away into the Trent. North of the Idle the drainage system is connected with that of the extensive area in South Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire known as the Levels of Hatfield Chase.
The two pumping houses are impressive structures, and have an interesting history. This from Geograph.org
These were erected to pump water from the Mother Drain to a higher level to allow water to drain to the River Trent. Each pumphouse housed a beam engine driving a 34-ft diameter scoop wheel working in a stone lined chamber to raise the water about 10 feet.
The south engine house is dated 1828 and is probably the older of the two, to judge by the style of building. The three elements – boiler house, engine house, and wheel house – are separately defined by their roof lines. The north engine house has a single pitched roof covering all three elements.
The north engine house dates from 1839 and in contrast to the south house has a single pitched roof covering all three elements. It too contained a beam engine, named Ada, but this does not appear to have been modernised as the later pump and engine in the south engine house was more powerful than the two beam engines combined. The pumps became redundant in 1941 when pumping from the Mother Drain was transferred to a new installation at Gringley, feeding into the River Idle.
Both pumphouses, with their accompanying boundary walls, are Listed Grade II*, having been upgraded from Grade II in recent years. The internal machinery is long since gone, and the complex has been sympathetically converted for residential use, maintaining the feel of the original purpose.
Thanks to Alan Murray-Rust
The chimney stack and impressive brick structures sit well in the tangle of willow, which is a feature of much of the Idle. The environment around the pumping houses is overgrown and tangled, creating a rather mysterious atmosphere.
In the distance further along the river can be seen the new pumping station.
The pumping houses are now a dwelling – and an impressive one at that. Here you can see the sluices linking the two houses either side of the Mother Drain.
The Mother Drain from the other side of the brick bridge, a mysterious tangle of vegetation often spans the deep cut of the drain, created by Dutch engineers, or possibly adapted by them from a Roman structure.
The climbing vegetation creates a lost-reclamed-by-nature feel, which along with the tranquility of the spot adds to its charm.
Impressive gates and original walls enclose the two houses.
This is an intriguing and atmospheric spot, and yet is really close to the buzzing centre of Misterton.