Noake's Worcestershire Page 255

LONGDON, WITH CASTLE MORTON AND CHASELEY. 255

shells are found here: there are the Lathyrus palustrts, the Scirpus maritimus, and many other rare wild plants. The reason these salt-loving plants choose the marshes for their habitat is said to be on account of the salt-beds of Droitwich lying just below the denuded lower Keuper marls. Sea birds likewise frequently visit the spot in the winter season, as if from a traditionary remembrance of the time when this wild retreat was more particularly their own sporting ground.

The question of draining the Longdon Marshes was agitated nearly two centuries ago. In the first half of the last century many meetings were held for that purpose; again in 1763, Brindley the celebrated engineer made a survey; and in 1788 another survey was made by a Mr. Hall, but nothing whatever came of these scientific labours. In 1844 the question was again mooted, when Mr. T. Fulljames made a report and estimate; many meetings were held at Tewkesbury, and a committee formed; but this also fell to the ground. At length, in 1855, a meeting was held to consider the propriety of altering the site of Yard bridge, at Longdon (then about to be rebuilt at the county expense), in order to promote the drainage; which was carried; and as soon as the Land Drainage Act of 1861 was passed, a commission was appointed under the Act, of which Mr, Joseph Yorke was chairman, Mr. Bailey Denton chief engineer, and Mr. F. Moore clerk. In the following year petitions were signed by the landed proprietors of Eldersfield, Pendock, Forthampton, Berrow, Birtsmorton, Castle Morion, Longdon, Queenhill, Holdfast, Bushley, and Staunton, and presented to the Enclosure Commissioners, praying that a drainage district might be formed. The estimated expense was not to exceed 10,000, including compensation. A committee of selection was appointed to nominate Commissioners to carry out the works; and the machinery went on, with occasional hitches, until 1866, when it entirely broke down. Tenant farmers and other occupiers offered a strong opposition, on the score that not being allowed to be present at the Commissioners'