"The Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board is an autonomous Statutory Body as defined under the Land Drainage Act of 1991, responsible for Land Drainage and Flood Defence works within its area."
Roman soldiers were the first to tackle the tides with man-made defences. The Romans occupied the area from the 2nd to the 4th Centuries AD and seem to have farmed extensively on the Levels. A boundary stone marking the building of "33 paces" of embankment by soldiers was discovered West of Goldcliffe Head in 1878.
The Norman Conquest brought further improvements, then in 1113 AD the Goldcliffe Priory was founded. There is plenty of evidence that the busy monks at this and other local religious houses had rich and extensive farmlands, which suggests a high level of work on drainage and defences.
But the Crown took possession of the lands and Henry VI granted them to the College of Eton in 1450. A long period of neglect and dereliction seems to have followed and the defences were finally overcome by the great flood of 1606.
Marks on the walls of several Levels churches show the point reached by the flood, 7.14 metres above Ordnance Datum and generally more than 1.5 metres above the ground.
It was a major event that has remained in the minds of local people ever since; storms and high tides are still greeted with some apprehension.
Ironically, before the flood, Henry VI set up Courts of Sewers to improve drainage, but only in the 19th Century were they given powers to make landowners carry out any works needed, seizing their property if they did not. Under this system, most of the sea walls were rebuilt and maintained.
Responsibility for Maintenance of Sea Defences and Drainage Systems
The Statute upon which the Commissions of Sewers were founded was "The Statute of Sewers of 1531 (23 Henry VIII C.5.)" It prescribed the form of such Commissions and remained in use and operation until superseded by the Land Drainage Act 1930.
Because of the failure of Landowners to carry out their personal liabilities to maintain sea walls and other works, the Caldicot and Wentlooge Level Act 1884 was made, forming a body known as the Monmouthshire Commissioners of Sewers. The heading of the Act reads:
"An Act to provide for the commutation of the liability of Landowners in the Levels of the hundreds of Caldicot and Wentlooge in the County of Monmouth to maintain sea walls and other works to provide for the making and maintaining of roads in the said Levels and for other purposes. 14th July, 1884."
This Act, therefore, made the Commissioners of Sewers directly responsible for the maintenance of the sea walls and drainage of the Levels of Caldicot and Wentlooge and at that time they were the only authority to control this area.
In 1901 the Newport Corporation obtained an act taking part of the level of Caldicot into the Borough (level of Mendalgief and Western part of Christchurch Parish).
The Monmouthshire Commissioners of Sewers ceased to function as from 15th November, 1942, when by an order under the Statutory Revisions of the Land Drainage Act 1930, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries ordered the formation of a Drainage Board named the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Drainage Board. By the Order, it was agreed that it should consist of 18 Members and the first 18 Members were named in the said Order. Members hold office for a period of three years and elections are held tri-annually. Only owners and occupiers of land on which Drainage Rates are levied are qualified to nominate and vote in the election of the new Board.
The present constitution of the Board consists of thirty-five Members, which includes fifteen representatives of Local Authorities.
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