Friday, 18 November 2016

The mill stream

Hambleden Mill is an historic water mill mentioned in the Doomsday Book when in 1086 it was rented for £1 per year and far more recently is described by Alison Huttley as being 'the most beautiful place in the whole length of the long Thames Valley' and I certainly wouldn't disagree with that.

Anyway, to get back to the mill stream.  
Hambleden Marina from the air (winter mode) - the marina access is via the road seen above which goes over the mill stream bridge.  In the picture a boat is moored directly in front of the bridge and to the right is moored Hambleden house boat Gypsy Willow and Still Rockin' is now moored in place of the one behind.

The channel that we're moored on is just that, the old mill stream

The mill was disbanded I think in the 1940's but when it was a working mill it would have taken water from above the current weir to turn the millwheel and I'm assuming there must still be that 'permission' for this stream to be flooded (as can be seen in my picture above).

However!  On Wednesday something was not quite right and the mill stream water dropped about 4" sitting Still Rockin' at quite an alarming tilt on the bottom! 

We checked with the Marc a director of Hambleden Marina  who manages on a day to day basis, to see if it was usual for this to happen and he said no, not at all.  Because there has been very little rain during September and October the river was already low and he couldn't understand why it's suddenly dropped now.

He thinks that because this coming weekend there's a canoe event below Hurley (the next lock downstream) the Hurley lock keeper is taking water from the reach above which happens to be the stretch that we're moored on, to create lots of 'white water' for the  enjoyment of the canoeists and spectators.

We rang the EA to inform them of the lack of water here, they took our number and said they would investigate and call back but didn't.  Fortunately by the end of the day the water had risen to it's previous level, phew!  Thursday the same thing happened, we again rang the EA who took the information to investigate and gave us a reference number to use should we wish to take it further or need more information.  By this morning the water was back and has stayed that way.  

We certainly don't want the River Thames to go into flood this winter but we'd certainly like a bit more water under our home.

Whilst researching Hambleden Mill I came across memories from residents of the area in the past: 

"The barge 'Maid of the Mill' used to leave Hambleden Mill once a week to take the flour to Huntley and Palmers at Reading, and she used to return on Friday loaded with broken biscuits that were sold to the local inhabitants for about one shilling for three pounds.
Laurie Woodford (96 in 1973), Hambleden

"The first historical mention of a mill at Hambleden was in the Domesday Book of 1086, when the mill and the surrounding land including Marlow was given to Queen Matilda by the Norman King William. The mill itself was then worth twenty shillings and the King exacted an annual tax of one thousand eels from its adjoining fisheries. The flour mill itself stopped working some years ago but much old machinery is still to be found inside.
These are my memories of over fifty years ago.
Louisa M. Bramhead, Hambleden

(Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes)

Views of the sky
... last night at 5pm

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