Silsoe College on the Moor

Here is some information about the years from 1963 to 1987

The College Site

The site of what is now Flitton Moor, including the land up to the Mill Lane bridge, was acquired by the National College of Agricultural Engineering at Silsoe in 1963, being transferred from Bedfordshire County Council (Mander College). The site was ideal for the College in that there were three types of soil which could be used to demonstrate arable farming techniques to the students.

At this time, however, there was no direct access to the site other than by a footbridge. For three years tractors had to be driven from Silsoe via Maulden, New Road and Ruxox farm. In 1966 the bridge was built and some of the area concreted for machinery storage and later to form the base of a farm building.

The fields at the wildlife site end were poorly drained and in 1967 several drainage ditches were dug, feeding into the ditch running parallel to the river and discharging into the Flit near the bridge.
This discharge location provided the lowest water outlet for the ditches to the river, allowing a deeper supplemental piped drainage system to be installed in the fields.

The technique used for installing the pipe drains was very new for the time, involving the machinery in these pictures. Plastic pipes were used – a very early use of this material. These were fed directly into the ground using a trench-less system that had only recently been developed.

The depth and gradient of the pipe was controlled through a remote control system, by the man on the left sighting through the level.

The man in the blue suit and tie is Mr Ces Walton, the owner of the machine.

Thanks to Gordon Spoor for these pictures and information.

The site was transferred back to Bedfordshire County Council in 1987 and turned into a wildlife site as part of their Centenary Celebrations.  Students from the College continued to use the site for water level experiments for many years.

Thanks to Tim Chamen for these images of students and lecturers.

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