Record Details

NHER Number:19692
Type of record:Building
Name:Denver Sluice


The sluice was first built by Vermyden in the 1650s, but the present structure was built in 1834 by Sir John Rennie, before being enlarged in the 1920s. The sluice forms part of the flood defence system that protects the Fens from flooding.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 5878 0100
Map Sheet:TF50SE

Full description

First established in 1652.
Present structure of 1834 in perfect condition, but not visible below water line except when drained in 1983.
Brick chambers remain intact.
Sluice gates replaced about 1960, replaced again 1983.
See (S1).
E. Rose (NAU) 21 November 1983.

November 1984. Listed, Grade II.
1834 building by Sir John Rennie.
Enlarged 1923, new gates 1928 as well as above dates.
Four arched bridge of brick finished with ashlar piers of which outer two project north and south to form locks.
See (S1) for full listing description.
E. Rose (NAU), 3 July 1985.

(S2) states that the first sluice had five channels, two of which were locks, with doors that opened outwards, (i.e. downstream) set each side of an earth dam, as given in a description of 1650.
The use of the term sluice in the Fens to mean a lock rather than a weir has caused the misconception that boats could no longer pass this spot; however, it is true that the establishment of the sluice meant that upstream navigation had in future to be by small lighters rather than large ships.
The sluice partly collapsed in 1713.
E. Rose (NLA), 22 October 2003.

October 2017. Desk-based Assessment.
Assessment of Denver Sluice ahead of proposed refurbishment works. These works will see the removal of a now redundant counterweight from Denver Big Eye, which was added in 1928 to allow the passage of larger craft and is now blocked with a concrete stop gate and no longer in use. It is argued that although Big Eye is an example of 1920s engineering and representative of the later phases of the sluice's development it is not key to the value of the site, which derives largely from the near-complete 19th-century design and its associated with Rennie and Vermuyden. It is suggested that the 20th-century elements could be seen as intrusive to the value of the 19th-century construction.
See Heritage Statement (S3) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 18 February 2020.

November 2018. Desk-based Assessment.
Assessment ahead of additional works including replacement of Little Eyes guillotine gates, installation of fenders in navigation lock and construction of floating downstream landing stage and mooring. Although these works will require the removal of structural elements of the sluice it is nevertheless considered that they will have only a limited impact on the special architectural and historic interest of the sluice. The replacement works have been designed to avoid the need for significant alterations to the historic fabric of the Listed Building. The new structural elements will though inevitably change the visual appearance of the sluice.
The proposed construction compound will not require intrusive groundworks and will therefore not disturb any archaeological remains present.
See Heritage Statement (S4) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 18 February 2020.

January 2019. Photographic Survey.
Survey undertaken ahead of the refurbishment works that were the subject of the Heritage Statement produced in 2018 (see above). These works included the removal of structural elements of the sluice including the existing guillotine gates, headworks and downstream landing stage. The principal aim of the photographic survey was therefore to preserve by record these elements of the Denver Sluice.
See report (S5) and photographs (S6).
P. Watkins (HES), 18 February 2020.

Monument Types

  • CANAL LOCK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SLUICE GATE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF5800 J,K,M, TF5801 A-B,N-Q; TF5901 A-E.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1987. Lynch-pin of Fens reopened. 7 June.
---Serial: 1971. Geographical Magazine. Geographical Magazine. April.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Unpublished Document: Environment Agency. The Denver Complex: The story of the drainage of the Fens, the Ouse flood protection scheme and the Ely Ouse Essex water transfer scheme..
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1999. Pushing the boat out to lure tourists. 7 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1983. Project could open gates to commerce. 18 November.
---Publication: Norfolk Heritage. 1977. Water Transport in Norfolk.
---Serial: Labrun, E.A.. 1994. Civil Engineering Heritage, East and Central England.. p 89.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. River challenge in spotlight. 19 July.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, B. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 280-281.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Photograph: CXY 3.
<S1>Designation: Historic England. National Heritage List for England. List Entry 1077851.
<S2>Article in Serial: Chisolm, M.. 2003. Conservators of the River Cam.. PCAS. pp 196-197.
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Toop, N. 2017. Denver Sluice, Denver, Norfolk. Heritage Statement. FAS Heritage. FAS2017 712 DLY694.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Holland, K. 2018. Denver Sluice Refurbishment, Heritage Statement. JBA Consulting.
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hinchliffe, S. 2019. Denver Sluice Refurbishment, Photographic Survey. JBA Consulting.
<S6>Photograph: Hinchliffe, S. 2019. Photographic survey of Denver Sluice. Digital. jpeg.

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