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Drain Experts Metro Rod Cambridge Step in to Assist a Hero of the Fen

9th September 2019

Drain Experts Metro Rod Cambridge Step in to Assist a Hero of the Fen

Metro Rod Cambridge, local Drain Care Company and Drainage Experts stepped in this week to assist a heritage property near Ely- Stretham Old Engine. Providing drain unblocking, toilet unblocking and drain clearing services locally puts Metro Rod Cambridge in an ideal position to help a local famous landmark in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

Dubbed “The Gem of the Fen”, Stretham Old Engine stands proudly across the fields near the Stretham crossroads just outside Ely on the banks of the Old West River. Built in 1831, the Stretham Old Engine is the last survivor in the southern Fenland of over 100 steam-powered pumping stations applied to fen drainage in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a key piece of engineering in this area. Without this important building, the Fens would not have been drained and local communities would have not thrived, and we would all be under water!

Van At Stretham Engine

Until the 17th Century Fenland was mostly a vast swamp with some islands of higher ground such as the Isle of Ely, In 1630 Earl of Bedford employed a Dutch Engineer Sir Cornellius Vermuyden to drain the southern Fenland in order to create land for argiculture. The drained soil then exposed to the air was mostly composed of peat which began to shrink and waste, and the ground level fell. Over the years it became necessary to pump rainwater from the fields up into the rivers which had remained at the pre-drainage levels.


Stretham Old Engine

Windmills at first were used with large scoops wheel to lift up the low-lying water. As land levels shrank further and could not cope with the height of lift required as the Fen is now some 6 metres below river level. The invention of the powerful steam engine arrived in the nick of time! The Old Engine at Stretham was one of over 100 steam pumping stations installed throughout the Fens and which replaced some 800 windmills in the 1800's. Installed in 1831 and successfully labouring until 1925, it was used as a standby until 1941 and superseded by a more convenient and efficient diesel engine connected to a centrifugal pump. The diesel engine was superseded by another pumping station located a few miles to the southeast bank of the River Cam.


Stretham Old Engine2

Local Company, Metro Rod Cambridge the Modern Drain Care Experts stepped into help this historical building to replace a cable which restored the working of an important river level gauge.  The replacement cable was fed under the roadway to the float chamber using specialist drainage surveying equipment.Mayor Cllr Mike Rouse pronounced the river gauge working once the Metro Rod Engineer had replaced the all-important wire under the roadway joining the gauge once again to the floats.

Stretham Old Engine9


Cared for by local volunteers and craftsmen, the building is maintained by local companies who give their time and skills to preserve this unique machine. Metro Rod Senior Engineer and Operations Manager Shaun Russell said “We were approached by volunteers of Stretham Old Engine asking if we could assist them with these works, following a tour of this impressive building, Metro Rod was delighted to carry out the work and play a small part in keeping the history of our local area in working order. It was a real pleasure to help”

Mike And Volunteers


Metro Rod Cambridge provides a host of drain care services for your residential or commercial property;

  • Drain Unblocking
  • Sink Unblocking
  • Toilet Unblocking
  • Root Removal
  • CCTV Camera Surveys of Drain Runs
  • Gutter Clearing
  • Graffiti Removal
  • Flood Relief
  • Tankering Services
  • Septic Tank Emptying
  • Drain Repairs, Rehabilitation and Installation
  • Rodent Blocks

Based in Ely, Cambridgeshire, Metro Rod are ideally placed to assist your residential or commercial property in Newmarket, Red Lodge, Kings Lynn, Downham Market, Thetford, Brandon, Hunstanton, Snettisham, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Royston, Cambourne, Bluntisham and all the villages in between.


Call one of our friendly team on 01353 659047

Email us at: [email protected]

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However you would like to get in touch with us, we look forward to hearing from you



Talk to you local metrorod specialist

Talk to your local Metro Rod specialist

We are always happy to arrange a free site assessment and no obligation quotations for any work you might need. Alternatively, you can call our emergency hotline number on 0800 66 88 00

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