What’s Going on at Winthrop Field?


To tell the whole story of what has been going on at Winthrop Field, one must turn the clock back to 1896 when the Winthrop family constructed a series of underground clay drain lines in the field, eventually running out to Whittier’s Cove. 

The drain lines are connected by a series of manholes that enable the drainage system to be maintained.  As the field collects rainwater from the surrounding areas of Sunset Hill, Forster Road, and Jersey Lane, those on the Winthrop Field Committee assume the drains were built to allow the Winthrop livestock better use of the field.

Jumping ahead to the 1970s, the field was deeded to the town by the estate of the late Clara Winthrop as open space.  Shortly after that time, a few of the manholes fell into disrepair and were filled with crushed stone so that no one would fall into the resulting sinkholes.  But the manhole locations weren’t reliably recorded. 

In about 2005, the Winthrop Field Committee was formed as advisory to the Select Board to manage the maintenance of the field, including the annual haying and drain maintenance.  Since 2008, the drain lines/manholes that were known to run from the center of the field to Whittier’s Cove have been periodically and professionally cleared to keep the field usable. 

Over the last five years, the committee has been working to locate the drain lines/manholes in the western portion of the field that haven’t been maintained since before the 1970s and were causing some water to back up.

This week, using funds awarded by the Manchester Community Preservation Committee and the Clara Winthrop Charitable Trust, the committee has been working with Jeffrey’s Creek to replace one blocked drain line and to rebuild one of the failed manholes on the western side of the field.  Note that no tax dollars are being used for this project or for the general maintenance of the field.  With the completion of this work, the rainwater that collects in the field will continue to flow to Whittier’s Cove and enable all Manchester residents to enjoy this open recreational space all year.

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