This record is held by East Sussex Record Office

Details of NRA
Reference: NRA

NRA 1 The Sussex River Authority 1964-1974


NRA 2 The East Sussex River Board 1950-1964


NRA 3 The Ouse Catchment Board 1930-1950


NRA 4 The Cuckmere Catchment Board 1930-1932


NRA 5 The Old Haven (Pevensey) and Bulverhythe Stream Catchment Board 1930-1932


NRA 6 The Rother and Jury's Gut Catchment Board 1931-1945


NRA 7 The Commissioners of Sewers for the Lewes and Laughton Levels 1767-1792


NRA 8 The Commissioners of Sewers for the levels within the Rapes of Pevensey and Hastings c1910


NRA 9 The Commissioners of Rye Harbour [1724]-1879


NRA 10 The Trustees of the Newhaven Harbour and Ouse Lower Navigation 1844-1952


NRA 11 The Kent River Board 1961-1962


NRA 12 Lewes Borough Council, 1901-1955

Date: 1724-1974
Related material:

For the East Sussex County Council water supplies joint advisory committee minutes and files 1934-1957, see C/C12/10 and C/C87. For the deposited accounts of public utilities 1822-1888 and 1889-1972, see QDT/3 and C/C109; for deposited water orders 1921-1960, see C/C114 and for a list of water undertakings 1944, see C/C77/85.


For additional records see ACC 7891


Records relating to land drainage have also survived amongst solicitors' archives, principally Dawes and Prentice of Rye (DAP), Lewis Holman and Lawrence of Lewes (LHL) and Raper and Fovargue of Battle (RAF).

Held by: East Sussex Record Office, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

National Rivers Authority, Southern Region

Physical description: 21 series
Access conditions:

Not available for consultation until 30 years from the last date of the document.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited by the NRA 15 January 1990 (A5413), 1 August 1990 (A5550)

  • Drainage engineering
Administrative / biographical background:

The National Rivers Authority was established under the terms of the Water Act 1989 to take over the regulatory and river functions of the regional water authorities. Its responsibilities include monitoring the quality of inland, coastal and underground waters, controlling pollution, the management of water resources, land drainage, flood protection and fisheries.


The Authority is the successor to the functions of a number of bodies concerned with drainage and river navigation going back to the 17th century. The earliest bodies were the commissioners of sewers whose jurisdiction derived from letters patent issued under the Statute of Sewers 1531. In East Sussex there were separate commissions for the Lewes and Laughton Levels, for the levels within the Rapes of Pevensey and Hastings, and the Rother Levels.


However by the 19th century the powers of the sewer commissioners had been fragmented by the creation of competing and overlapping jurisdictions of other bodies concerned with drainage and navigation. On both the Ouse and Rother, harbour commissioners for Rye and Newhaven had been in existence since 1731 and 1724 respectively. The situation on the River Ouse was further complicated by the creation in 1790 and 1791 of the Company of Proprietors of the River Ouse Navigation and the Trustees of the Ouse Lower Navigation. The former was largely defunct by the 1860s while the latter was in 1847 merged with the Commissioners of Newhaven Piers to form the Trustees of the Newhaven Harbour and Ouse Lower Navigation. They assumed certain functions with regard to the maintenance of the river as far as Bushy Brook and Hamsey (but left the sewer commissioners in being with their voting powers intact) and responsibility for Newhaven Harbour. In 1878 responsibility for the harbour passed to the Newhaven Harbour Company.


From 1872 boards of conservators for the Rother and Ouse were established to protect fish stocks.


Thus by the beginning of the 20th century the situation in Sussex and elsewhere had become hopelessly confused. The work of the sewer commissioners and kindred bodies continued until the Land Drainage Act 1930 (20-21 Geo V, c44) by which their duties were taken over by internal drainage boards, while overall supervision was exercised by the catchment board for that area. However, the powers of the sewer commissioners continued in force as an internal drainage board unless or until the commission was determined by a scheme under part two of the Act.


Within East Sussex four catchment boards were created: the Ouse Catchment Board, Cuckmere Catchment Board, Old Haven (Pevensey) and Bulverhythe Stream Catchment Board and the Rother and Jury's Gut Catchment Board.


The River Boards Act 1948 abolished the catchment boards and from 1950 established river boards. The East Sussex River Board absorbed all the catchment boards within the county except the Rother and Jury's Gut Catchment Board which went to the Kent River Board.


By the Water Resources Act 1963 the Kent and East Sussex River Boards were in 1964 superseded by the Kent and Sussex River Authorities. In 1974 the unitary water authorities assumed responsibility for both rivers (drainage) and the water supply. However their unitary jurisdiction was broken up under the Water Act 1989 which created a privatized water supply industry under public regulation and transferred responsibility for drainage and water resources to the National Rivers Authority.

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