Much of the Boston that visitors see today stems from the construction of the Grand Sluice on the River Witham in 1766 during the industrial revolution in Great Britain. Sluices are sliding and lock gates that control the flow of water; and the creation of Boston's Grand Sluice was to help with the drainage of large areas of fen.

Three engineers were involved in the construction of the sluice: John Grundy, Langley Edwards and John Smeaton. Edwards designed the actual Sluice and was appointed as project engineer. As part of the construction, the river Witham was straightened to enable easy and reliable navigation between Boston and Lincoln. With this flooding prevention, Lincolnshire was able to reclaim 111,000 acres of agricultural land, including the land that Witham Way Country Park resides upon.

This heralded a new era of prosperity for Boston, and many of the fine buildings we have today date back to this time. It also enabled the town to become the first in Lincolnshire to be industrialised and grow to be the largest in the County.

The total length of the river is 82 miles (132km). The important section from Lincoln High Bridge to the Grand Sluice is 31 miles long, with the fall in water level usually only about 4.5m. Before the Grand Sluice was built, commercial navigation between Lincoln and Boston had become all but impossible as the Witham meandered, silted up and even changed its course from time to time. The Sluice consists of three channels, each 5.2 m wide, fitted with mitre gates on both sides.

Today, the Sluice still controls the water levels for the 21 miles upstream to Bardney Lock and helps protect the Boston area from flooding. One of the best ways to enjoy a view of the Grand Sluice is from Boston Lock Café, a 17th century warehouse where you can grab a delicious Stokes coffee and enjoy a selection of light bites.

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