CKC Archaeology (Gardens Archaeology Project)
Report to the Managing Agent, The National Trust (Southern Region)
Summary of management recommendations
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In November 1995 the Southern Region of the National Trust commissioned Christopher Currie of CKC Archaeology (Gardens Archaeology Project) to undertake a full archaeological and historical survey of the River Wey and Godalming Navigations. The project took just under nine months to complete.
These Navigations combine sections of natural river with artificial channels to create a navigable waterway from the River Thames to the Surrey market town of Godalming. The Wey Navigation was created first, from 1651, to allow passage from the Thames to Guildford. It comprises 15 1/2 miles of waterway containing 12 locks that allow a drop of approximately 68 feet. The prime mover in its construction was Sir Richard Weston of Sutton Place. He obtained the aid of Parliamentarian soldier, Major James Pitson, to persuade the Commonwealth government of the time to support the scheme. An Act of Parliament of 1651 sanctioned work to begin on the undertaking, and Weston had much of the works completed before his death in 1652.
Following Weston's death, the project was dogged by increasing financial difficulties. More shares needed to be sold to raise the money to finish the project when it was found that the original £12,000 raised was insufficient. This ultimately led to the ownership of the Navigation being dissipated between a number of factions, who struggled for control with each other. Eventually a second Act of Parliament was needed in 1671 to bring some semblance of order to the disputes. Although not entirely successful, the disputes were gradually resolved. By the early 18th century a stable ownership had evolved between the Langton and Portmore families, and the river began to be run in a modestly efficient manner.
The Godalming Navigation was added by a further Act of Parliament in 1760, allowing a further four and a half miles of navigable river to be made as far as the Town Bridge at Godalming. There are four locks on this section covering a fall of 32 feet between Godalming and Guildford. The new Navigation was completed by 1764.
With the building of this section, it seems that there was a restructuring of the management of the Wey Navigation. Before 1764, the Wey appeared to have been controlled by the wharfingers in charge of the main wharves at Guildford, Dapdune, Send Heath, Pyrford and New Haw. From this date until the early 1790s, many of the tasks of the wharfingers were taken over by lock-keepers stationed at the main locks on the Navigation. Lock-houses were erected at the locks at Thames, New Haw, Walsham, Papercourt, Triggs, and Stoke from which the river was controlled. There then followed a period of great prosperity from the 1770s through to the 1840s when trade continued to increase over the period. This was interrupted by the coming of competition from the railways at the end of the 1840s. Timber was the mainstay of the traffic, but there was also considerable trade in chalk, lime, groceries, coal, and corn at various times.
From the early years of the 19th century the Stevens family became increasing involved in the management of the river. By the 1890s they were in virtual control, although it still took them many more years to buy up all the shares that had been dispersed during the period of disputes in the later 17th century. Through good management, this family managed to keep the Navigation a going concern well into the present century, although trade gradually declined from the high points in the late 1830s.
The Godalming Navigation was not so fortunate. This section was outside the direct management of Stevens family, and suffered more than the Wey section from railway competition, and the failure of the Wey and Arun Canal in the late 1860s. By 1900 there was little serious trade on the river beyond the gunpowder traffic from Chilworth Mills. When this ceased after the First World War, its fate was sealed. There continued to be minor traffic thereafter to Stonebridge, but the section to Godalming was not used commercially after 1926.
The Wey Navigation seems to have survived the decline of the Godalming Section mainly through the continuing trade in corn from the various mills along its length. These continued to flourish, supplying the great urban population of London with flour through much of the first half of the 20th century. As these gradually closed down, so the trade on the river was reduced. By the early 1960s only Coxes Mill still used the river, still sending up to 15,000 tons a year by barge to the capital. Road and rail transport rapidly replaced the barges as the 1960s progressed, and by 1969 the trade had ceased entirely. There was still a small income to be had from pleasure boats by this time, but it was not sufficient to make the river a going concern.
The Wey Navigation was donated to the National Trust by the last owner, Harry Stevens in 1964. The Godalming Navigation followed in 1968, a gift from the Guildford Corporation, thus bringing both sections of the river into common ownership for the first time. The present survey was commissioned as a background for a larger landscape assessment designed at bringing the Navigations under the closer protection of the local Planning Authorities.
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For further details of these recommendations please refer to Section 9.0 of this report.
A. General recommendations for the management of the historic landscape of the Wey and Godalming Navigations:
B. Recommendations for further archaeological survey work:
C. Recommendations for further documentary and other historical research:
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The River Wey and Godalming Navigations combine sections of natural river with artificial channels to create a navigable waterway from the River Thames to the Surrey market town of Godalming. The Wey Navigation was created first, from 1651, to allow passage from the Thames to Guildford. It comprises 15 1/2 miles of waterway containing 12 locks that allow a drop of approximately 68 feet. The Godalming Navigation was added by Act of Parliament in 1760, allowing a further four and a half miles of navigable river to be made as far as the Town Bridge at Godalming. There are four locks on this section covering a fall of 32 feet between Godalming and Guildford. The Wey Navigation was donated to the National Trust by the last owner, Harry Stevens. The Godalming Navigation followed in 1968, ownership being transferred from the Guildford Corporation, thus bringing both sections of the river into common ownership for the first time.
In November 1995 the Southern Region of the National Trust commissioned Christopher Currie of CKC Archaeology (Gardens Archaeology Project) to undertake a full archaeological and historical survey of the property. This was to include not only the land owned by the National Trust, but all those lands that could be described as being, historically and visually, within the overall 'landscape' of the Navigations. To appreciate the true significance of the Navigations, and its influence on its catchment area, it is considered necessary to study the history of the landscape both before and after the creation of the Navigations.
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An assessment of the historic landscape of the Wey and Godalming Navigations was undertaken by C K Currie BA MPhil MIFM MIFA, as a preliminary to a more formal landscape assessment of the property. This has been carried out by Chris Blandford Associates. The survey brief was to undertake assessment not only of the National Trust estate, but also the visual envelope of the property. The latter was defined as that visible from the towpath of the Navigations from the eye-level of an average adult male.
Unlike other National Trust properties that comprise composite historical estate, this property had an unusual geographical boundary, in that it was a single linear unit cutting through a wide range of different riverine-type landscapes. The lack of administrative unity to the property and its adjoining land caused a number of problems in the assessment. Many of these were also historical problems for previous Navigation owners in that they had to maintain a working relationship with a huge number of individual neighbours that inhibited the formation of a standard management policy. It is largely to try to overcome this historical problem that the assessment was commissioned. In the past different solutions have been required for the same problem in different areas. It is hoped that the assessment will enable a policy to be agreed with the various local councils that the property passes through that will allow greater protection to the property and its visual envelope than has been previously allowed.
It was considered that as the property is now considered a historic feature in its own right, the best way forward was to obtain a detailed assessment of the history and archaeology of the property as guidance for the later landscape assessment works.
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The methodology follows that used by the author on other National Trust properties in that it has been written based largely on the format suggested by English Heritage in The management of archaeological projects (London, 1992, revised edition). The ordering of information follows the guidelines given in this document, although alterations may have been made to fit in with the particular requirements of the work. This report also pays attention to the Institute of Field Archaeologists' Standard and guidance for archaeological desk-based assessments (Birmingham, 1993).
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2.2.2 Summary of methods
This will be based on the original estate papers and other relevant primary source collections in the Guildford Muniment Room and elsewhere, but also included any other records pertaining to the estate area. Documents used included Saxon charters, royal medieval records (Domesday Book, Close and Patent Rolls, Inquisitions Post Mortem etc. in the Public Record Office), wills, contemporary published accounts, and cartographic sources (early OS maps, Tithe and Enclosure Maps, Parish Maps etc.). Reference was also made to all known published sources on the history and archaeology of the area.
This was supported by research on the records held by the County Planning Department. This included the Surrey County Council Sites and Monuments Record (SMR), listed buildings, scheduled monuments, aerial photographs and any other sources in their possession. Where additional information was available, the National Monuments Record was consulted for similar sources.
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The landscape of the River Wey Navigations can be broken up into a number of sections. There are distinct landscape types that can be recognised within the river corridor. It has to be admitted that there are areas of overlap where there is a transitional landscape between two types. To appraise each of these separately would make the appraisal complex, and so this has been avoided. It has often been necessary to choose a fixed point to start the various sections that could be argued as being more or less appropriate by other workers, but this would be largely a subjective decision.
The individual sections are as follows:
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2.3.1 Thames Lock to Parvis Bridge
This is largely a suburban landscape, with housing development continuing right on to the waterside. In places this is semi-industrial, as between Coxes Mill and Black Boy Bridge, but for most of its length it consists of middle class housing with gardens backing onto the river or the towpath. There are occasional gaps in the development where urban fringe farmland still survives, but this is usually of poor quality, and is often given over to horsiculture and other urban fringe grassland uses.
Historically the landscape has occasional interest. In particularly the towering mass of Coxes Mill dominates the skyline in its vicinity, and has been described as one of the finest industrial monuments in Surrey. Taken together with its large millpond, the adjoining lock and old stable, with the railway embankment as a backdrop, this presents an area of significant semi-industrial landscape. There is another minor historical industrial landscape worth mentioning at Thames Lock. Here the group value of the lock, lock-house and old stable is increased in value by the presence of the remains of Ham Haw Mills. It is urged that the mill ruins are retained largely intact, and any development here neither destroys them or masks their industrial origins with inappropriate restoration.
The worst aspect of this landscape is where the M25 crosses the Navigation near the junction with the Basingstoke Canal. This is extremely intrusive, and spoils an otherwise quite reasonable suburban landscape that exists from near New Haw Lock, down to Parvis Bridge. The more recent housing on the east bank at the New Haw end of the Long Reach, as this section was known, has no character, but that on the west bank retains some of its historical character. The turn-of-the century middle class boat-houses, and the adjoining housing at Parvis Bridge still retains something of the atmosphere of the designed Edwardian estate that was built to deliberately utilise the Navigation as one of its attractions.
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2.3.2 Parvis Bridge to Dodds Bridge
The area around Parvis Bridge is still spoilt by the M25 running close to the Navigation here. However once the bend below is turned, the landscape becomes largely rural. On the west bank is the decaying designed landscape of West Hall. The house itself is now spoilt by conversion to offices, but it seems to have always been an ugly house by modern standards. The designed landscape, dating from the later 18th and 19th century, is not unpleasant, and has some pleasant touches. These include the ancient woodland of Old Wood, the boat house, and the Long Walk, an avenue extending south from the house towards Dodds Bridge. For the rest the adjoining farmland is typical bland river valley grassland broken up by occasional alder copses. It may not be of any great beauty, but it still retains an impression of what the old landscape once was: poorish agricultural land on the fringe of an area of extensive heathlands. Urban fringe lurks on the horizons.
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2.3.3 Dodds Bridge to Pyrford Place
Little that has been built on this landscape is entirely satisfactory. The marina at Pyrford, and the two golf courses below Pyrford Bridge, give this section an air of being urban fringe. The Anchor Inn, a historic site, badly rebuilt can be particularly garish and out-of-place on busy days, with crowds of drinkers spilling out on to the riverside, and losing the river its sense of tranquillity.
The marina is shielded somewhat from the rest of the river by woodland, and is relatively unobtrusive until near the Anchor where there is the exit on to the main river. The golf course on the west side of the river is particularly inappropriate. It has a bad design, being largely open in an area of otherwise scattered woodland amongst meadows. The golf course on the east bank is much less noticeable by comparison, using the trees of the former landscape to conceal itself much better than its counterpart. The woodlands of Royal Horticultural Society's garden at Wisley, plus the scattered houses of the old village form a pleasant backdrop on the eastern horizon.
This section is terminated at Pyrford Place where an attractive 17th century summer house sets the tone of an older, less scarred landscape.
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2.3.4 Pyrford Place to Tanyard Bridge
This is one of the better landscapes of the Wey for gaining an impression of the rural scene that existed here at the time of the building of the Navigation. Lowland meadows are interspersed by occasional woodlands, with a number of distinctive historic buildings clearly visible in places. There are a number of long-distant views that are little marred by more obviously modern development. The buildings in the meadowland landscape at Newark are particularly notable, comprising the old mill house and its outbuildings and the ruins of Newark Priory. There are occasional reminders of creeping urbanity if one looks to the horizon, but these views are broken up by the dominance of historic buildings such as Pyrford and Woking church towers.
The section between Walsham Gates and Newark is a particularly fine historic landscape, with a number of interesting features, and little modern intrusion. As well as the fine set of buildings at Newark already mentioned there is the great weir at Walsham, with its lock and lock-house, and a number of historic buildings on the skyline. Walsham Common Meadow, although now partly screened by young willows and alder, was one of better recorded of the historic meadowlands along the Navigation. It is still largely undisturbed although scrub alder woodland is beginning to encroach on it. The meadows between Papercourt and Newark Bridge are not so well recorded, but nevertheless retain much of the atmosphere of the old river, with their broad, flat, largely uninterrupted views across the valley.
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2.3.5 Tanyard Bridge to Worsfold Gates
After Tanyard Bridge suburban development mars the east bank of the river with modern housing on the site of Send Wharf at Highbridge, and a large modern factory on the bank of the Navigation on the site of the old tanyard. The latter is perhaps more in keeping with the semi-industrialised landscape of the early Navigation. There are stretches of rural meadows to be seen on the west bank, with good views of old meadows across to Old Woking on the horizon. Where the river passes through the village of Send below Cartbridge, the landscape is rather scrappy, with piecemeal development. However, one should understand that this is largely as it was even in the 18th century, when this stretch was largely built up.
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2.3.6 Worsfold Gates to Broad Oak Bridge
This is perhaps the most rural of the Navigation's landscapes. Here one can look undisturbed across relatively undisturbed meadows with traces of old carriers to the wooded hills beyond. Those buildings that do intrude are largely historic, and add, rather than detract from the scene. On the east bank, the atmospheric Victorian Sendholme and the collection of listed buildings around Send Church are a particularly pleasing frame to a fine set of historic meadowlands. On the west bank there are long views out over historic farmland, and the important designed landscape of Sutton Park. This is an area of significant historic landscape value, and should be considered for listing amongst the Surrey County Council Areas of Historic Landscape Value (AHLV).
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2.3.7 Broad Oak Bridge to Stoke Bridge
Although still largely rural, the embankment of the A3 on the eastern skyline, introduces an unwelcome element of urbanity into the scene, spoiling what would otherwise be a continuation of the broad meadowland landscape that had come before. The industrial estate on the west bank near Stoke Lock is well screened, and is hardly noticed. The long line of ancient pollards almost all the way from Backs Weir to Stoke Lock detracts one from the hum of traffic coming from the A3 half a mile away on the eastern skyline. The nature reserve between it and the river is not strictly historical, but any landscape here would be spoilt by the visually encroaching main road. As one approaches Stoke Bridge, the background suburban development begins to impose itself on any rural feeling left in this area.
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2.3.8 Stoke Bridge to Dapdune Wharf
This is a messy semi-urbanised landscape, with modern industrial estates spanning the river at Woodbridge. There are some surviving meadows between the river and the A3 between Stoke Bridge and Woodbridge, but these are largely derelict, giving a feeling that they are only waiting for development. Dapdune Wharf briefly adds an old world charm to the semi-industrialised views that extend from Woodbridge to the Wharf. The skyline is dominated by the modern mass of Guildford Cathedral, which helps to detract from the clutter closer to the riverbanks. The landscapes here are in need of some formal regulation.
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2.3.9 Dapdune Wharf to Guildford Rowing Club
Although this is the most heavily urbanised stretch along the Navigations, it retains some of its historic charm in places. The old warehouses on the west bank above the town centre have mellowed into the scene, although the piecemeal development around the law courts on the east bank is unsightly. Once beyond Onslow Bridge, there is a pleasing mix of old and new buildings that still retains some semblance of what the river was like when the Navigations were built. The views of the Old Town Mill, the Castle and St. Nicholas' Church are all reminders of the antiquity of parts of this landscape. From the Onslow Bridge downwards much of the town on both banks falls within Conservation Areas.
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2.3.10 Guildford Rowing Club to St. Catherine's Hill
There is a fine set of historic meadows on the east bank of this section. They are bounded on the skyline by suburban scenes, but they do not give a derelict impression as do similar old meadows to the north of Guildford. The east bank is one of the most attractive suburban stretches on the river, with middle class housing and offices gently obscured amongst the wooded hillside for the most part. There are some pretty historic cottages below St Catherine's Hill.
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2.3.11 St. Catherine's Hill to Tiltham's House
One of the better varied landscapes along the Navigations. This mixes large expanses of meadow with woodland and local pockets of semi-industrial landscape. The latter are largely on older industrial sites, and so do not necessarily detract from the historical integrity of the area, although the buildings might have been better designed to fit the landscape.
The bungalow on the bankside at Unstead Lock is particularly ugly and inappropriate. Although only small, and screened on three sides it is in the worst possible place on the side of an old historic lock. The fencing in front of it is also outstandingly obtrusive. This building spoils an otherwise agreeable stretch that, even with the derelict industrial building on the site of Unstead Mill, has a characteristic sense of place in keeping with the rural semi-industrialised landscape that once existed here,
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2.3.12 Tiltham's House to Godalming Town Bridge
A suburban landscape on the edge of Godalming, with the development kept on the skyline for much of the west bank by the Lammas Meadows. Much of the western housing is made up of listed buildings on Meadrow. However, they do not make a very pleasing whole, and the general impression is of scrappy development beyond a rather poorly presented historic common meadow. The author does not have the qualifications to assess exactly what is wrong with this landscape, but it is not as pleasing as its individual units might suggest it ought to be. Possibly it is the piecemeal development between the listed buildings that offends, but the old meadows seem sadly derelict despite still being used as cattle pasture.
The east bank of the river is worse, with modern housing and acres of car parks on the site of the old Godalming Wharf. Catteshall Mill, an old Domesday mill, adds little to the historical integrity of this section in its present dilapidated state.
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An assessment of a landscape that was historically dotted with semi-industrialised features dropped randomly into a largely rural setting is not an easy task. In many places, where there are surviving industrial buildings, these might seem ugly to the lay observer, but they often add a sense of historical place. An example is the derelict modern industrial building on the site of Unstead Mill. The building is out of context, but it still reminds one of the original landscape that must have existed here. Industrial complexes such as Unstead Mill would have been considered bad design in a rural environment by the standards of today's landscape architects and planners. There is, therefore, a need to interpret the landscape to the public. Not necessarily as something that is always beautiful, but as something appropriate to the Navigations that helped create it.
There are still sections of the river where idyllic rural meadow landscapes can still be seen amongst a backdrop of historic buildings. Send and Sutton Meadows near Send Church are perhaps the finest, but parts of the river around Papercourt and Newark can compete.
Some sections still retain their historical integrity despite large-scale encroachment of suburban development. The section above St. Catherine's Hill needs improvement, but its overall integrity is one of a historical landscape containing a broad span of historical features of varying dates.
The worst features in the landscape are not buildings. Even though the development between Stoke Bridge and Woodbridge is of the worst of unstructured and visually unpleasing types, it is where major roads impinge on the landscape that the greatest offence is to be found. The embankments of the A3 and the M25 not only introduce great scars into the historic landscape, but they cut the Navigations off from their historic hinterland in a way that no building could ever do. One suspects that they have a psychological influence on planners that creates the tendency to abandon the areas around them to piecemeal, unstructured development, as can be best seen from the industrial estates around Woodbridge. Even the surviving countryside near these roads seems to have developed a malaise from their presence on their horizons. The adjoining meadows are often valuable historic features, but their proximity to major roads seems to signal their abandonment to the type of dereliction characteristic of the urban fringe.
A formal landscape assessment of the Wey Navigation would be extremely useful in defining ways in which some of these problems could be addressed. Not only would it be invaluable in drawing up a policy for counteracting the worst excesses of urban fringe development, it could help to interpret the conflicting elements of the rural and industrial that have existed in this landscape since historical times.
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Like many English river valleys in the earliest prehistoric period after the retreat of the last glaciation c. 12000 BC, the earliest Wey valley would have been heavily wooded. It is possible to tell from the form of the valley that exists today, that the prehistoric valley would have also been very wide. It was possibly poorly drained, with numerous meanders caused by fallen trees and other obstructions.
The earliest men to have any significant effect on the valley would have been hunter-gather peoples of the Mesolithic period, c. 8000-4000 BC. It is thought that these people conducted rudimentary forest clearance, using mainly fire, to help them manipulate their prey animals into clearings where they could be more easily captured. A list of sites within the visual envelope of the Navigation gives a small, but significant, number of places where Mesolithic flints have been found, demonstrating their presence near the river. Perhaps the most important of these is the Mesolithic site on St. Catherine's Hill, south of Guildford. Here, the hunters would have had an excellent view of the river valley directly below them from where they could watch the movements of their prey (Gabel 1976).
There are a number of other sites along the Navigation where Mesolithic finds have been made. Flint scatters have come from near Broadford in Shalford, and near Newark Mill. Isolated finds, mainly axes, have been found on St. Catherine's Hill, and at two places on former common lands belonging to the manors of Chertsey and Byfleet. There are numerous other find spots close to, but outside, the visual envelope. It is notable that nearly all these sites are on the poorest kind of sandy soils. These are areas that would have been the easiest to clear in early times. In general, later prehistoric activity seems to either relate to these areas as well, or be largely absent. Nearly all the prehistoric sites after the Mesolithic period are isolated find spots, although there are a number of undated crop mark sites in the Walsham area that may be prehistoric settlement sites (Longley 1976, 27-30).
There may have been another prehistoric site of some importance along the Navigation at the junction of the Wey with the Bourne stream just below Weybridge Lock. A large quantity of prehistoric and Dark Age finds were recovered here, mostly during dredging operations in the period 1910-12 (Longley 1976, 16-21). For the most part the objects were high status objects such as flint and metal axes, coins and worked bone ornaments. They range mainly from the Bronze Age through to the Dark Age (c. AD 900), although Roman finds are not known. It would seem from the type of finds made that they represent votive depositions, possibly to a river deity. It is possible, however, that votive deposition at this particular spot might be linked with a settlement as Iron Age pottery has also been found in the area. There is no particularly reason why such deposition should be carried out at the junction of such a minor stream with the Wey unless there was some other feature to attract passers-by such as a settlement or river crossing.
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There is little that can be said about the Wey valley in the Roman period on the evidence of archaeological finds made within the visual envelope of the Navigation. There are only five possible find sites in this immediate area. These are pottery finds near Unstead Manor Farm, a coin from Portsmouth Road in Artington, pottery from Guildford Castle, possible Romano-British burials at Burpham, and various finds, mainly coins and a pottery lamp at Winern Close in Byfleet (Surrey County Council Sites & Monuments Record nos. 1633, 1646, 1676, 508, & 742/2384 respectively). The Unstead, Burpham and Byfleet sites suggest possible native farms on slightly higher ground on the edge of the Wey valley. The Guildford finds may represent Roman presence on site of the town, but the Artington site was a chance find that has since been lost.
One would have expected most of Surrey countryside to have fallen under man's management in some form or other by the Late Iron Age. The Roman period is unlikely to have seen any retreat from marginal lands, and it is likely that, at least for a while, land management in the valley was intensified. It is possible that the pasturing of cattle on the lush valley grasses in the spring, and the cropping of the meadows for hay was underway by the Roman period. In fact, one would have expected it to have begun much earlier. By this time, it is possible to suggest that the valley would have seen much activity from native farmers. How much of this survived the collapse of the Roman Empire is open to question. It is hard to imagine meadowland that was so highly valued in the medieval and post-medieval periods being neglected for very long.
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Whatever happened to the Wey valley in the pagan Saxon period is a matter that will probably never be resolved. There has been a tendency for more recent writers to consider that mass extermination of native peoples was unlikely. Most seem to agree that the transition from Roman Britain to Saxon England was accomplished relatively peacefully in Surrey (Bird 1987, 192; Poulton 1987, 216-17).
As records begin to emerge with the advent of Christianity in the 7th century, it appears that Surrey has become a sub-kingdom under the overlordship of Mercia. By a charter dated between 666 and 674 it is recorded that Wulfhere the king of Mercia confirmed grants of land made by Frithuwold, his sub-king, and an unknown person, Eorcenwold, to Chertsey Abbey (Sawyer 1968, no. 69). This abbey was the largest and most important medieval abbey in Surrey, claiming to hold numerous estates within the Wey valley in the Saxon period. It is now thought that the numerous Saxon charters of this abbey are mainly forgeries created after the Norman Conquest to lay claim to lands that the abbey had probably had genuine rights to before 1066.
Thus, although Stevenson (1914, 703) considers a charter of 727 from sub-King Frithuwold granting extensive lands to Chertsey to be 'spurious' (Sawyer 1968, no. 1181), the suspected forgery may represent a true situation. Certainly, after the Norman Conquest, Chertsey can be found to hold lands in the Wey valley at Byfleet, Chertsey, and Weybridge that are mentioned in this charter. These lands occur again in charters of 933 and 1062 (Sawyer 1968, nos. 420, 1035).
Anglo-Saxon charters and wills seem to suggest that a number of the other later medieval manors in the Wey valley existed as identifiable estates in the Saxon period. There are records of 757-86 for Woking, 873-88 for Godalming and Guildford, 950-68 for Send, and 956 for Pyrford (Sawyer 1968, nos. 144, 1507, 1447, 621 respectively).
The charter for Woking is a grant of land from King Offa of Mercia to the 'church' at Woking. This supports Blair's contention (1991, 101-13) that Woking was an important royal estate from an early date with its own minster church. These were 'mother' churches from which many of the later medieval parish churches were founded as subordinate chapels. There was a royal residence at Woking in the later medieval period that helps to confirm this early status. The fragmentary remains of it can still be seen to the north of the Navigation towpath near Woking Park Farm (Sprules 1911, 382-83).
Both Blair (1991, 56) and Poulton (1987, 209) consider that Guildford was another settlement of some importance. The mention of Guildford in Alfred's will suggests that it was an important royal residence in the 9th century before it became one of the 'burhs', or fortified towns, created to defend the kingdom against Danish invasion. The location of a burh on the river Wey, plus the discovery of a Danish axe in the Wey at Weybridge (Longley 1976, 16-21; Surrey County Council SMR no. 2078), suggests that at least part of its situation may have been to prevent Viking use of the river. It is certain that this siting was partly to protect an important fording point, but one also wonders if Danish longboats could have sailed up the river that far. These ships were designed to pass through shallower waters than cargo barges. Considering the great use that these invaders made of waterways, the use of the Wey for this kind of navigation has to be at least considered.
Alfred's will also mentions Godalming. This again must suggest an important royal residence here from which the market town later developed. Another burh was sited nearby at Eashing. This site is even more suggestive of the fear of Danish use of the Wey than Guildford. It is sited on a cliff overlooking the Wey. Poulton (1987, 208) describes it thus,
'Its strong defensive position and isolation from major routeways suggest that it may have been intended to act purely as a fort without any commercial importance. As such it may have been very short lived and replaced as the burh by Guildford.'
One can not be sure that the fort was not sited here to control a ford, in spite of Poulton's opinion that it was not sited on a major routeway. Howver, if he is correct, what other purpose could it have but to defend against passage along the Wey? The site is situated on the south bank of the river above the National Trust Eashing Bridge, some miles upstream of the end of the later Navigations. The bridge here was thought to be constructed by Waverley Abbey, probably in the 13th century (Renn 1974). This suggests that there may have been a ford here that might have been considered important in earlier times. Nevertheless, Poulton's view that the ford itself was not of any great significance in Saxon times does raise some interesting questions.
Of the other documents mentioned above, Send is recorded in a dispute dated 950-68 in which Archbishop Dunstan claimed to have purchased at estate there. Nothing further is known about it. Only one of the charters recording the Wey gives any details of landscape features. This is to be found through a reading of the estate bounds for the charter of 956 for Pyrford.
This gives a number of early place-names in the valley, many of which are now lost. The most obvious is the name of the river itself. The charter boundaries follow the old river for a while 'andlang waegan', giving the earliest reference to the river. Eckwall is quoted as believing that the root of this name is the same as the Latin 'vehere', to carry. Although this is here thought to mean 'running water' (Gover et al 1934, 7) the derivation from the verb 'to carry' is interesting, and might, in itself, hint at primitive navigation. The earliest references to the Wey after this date from the late 12th and early 13th century, and include the forms 'Waie', and 'Waye'.
The various place-name along the river give indications of the character of the places when people named them. This was usually in the Saxon period. For example the name 'Send' probably derives from 'saede', a sandy place. The early naming of Weybridge in Saxon charters (Waigebrugge, Waybrigga) suggests that there was already a bridge crossing here at this date. Ockham is 'Occa's hamm', the meadow (hamm) of Occa or the oak tree (ibid, 143). Wisley derives from the Old English word 'wisc', a damp meadow or marsh (op. cit., 155).
Pyrford takes its names from the 'ford by the pear tree' (Gover et al 1934, 132). The bounds of this estate give an interesting insight into the landscape of the lower Wey. On the bounds are mentioned portions of common land near the later commons around New Haw, suggesting that these land uses had already been designated in the 10th century. A 'mill-field' is also mentioned, suggesting that there were mills on the Wey and its tributaries from an early date. 'Flexwaran', flax-weirs, are also mentioned (ibid, 132n).
Stoke, near Guildford, has a derivation of some interest in the light of the discussion above about Saxon fortified places on the river. The name may stem from 'stoc' meaning a defended place. Stoughton, the name of a sub-manor within Stoke, from which the Stoughton family (who played a significant role in the early Navigation) took their name, comes from Stoctune, the farm adjoining Stoke, the stockade.
Shagden Mead near Stoke Lock also has interesting origins. It is thought that it might come from a personal name 'Ceacca', the 'dun' element meaning hill, thus 'Ceacca's hill'. It is noteworthy that an area of rising ground near this meadow has produced Romano-British burials (Sprules 1911, 39) that may tentatively suggest continuity between the Roman and Saxon settlements in this vicinity.
The Saxon evidence for the Wey valley is not all one might have hoped for, but even from the sparse clues given above, it can be seen that the landscape of the valley at this time had already begun to take on elements that would be recognisable later. Perhaps the most important points to note are three distinct clues that suggest that the passage of the river needed to be defended. These hints at early river passage, tenuous though they may be, suggest the impetus to create a navigable river may have had far deeper roots than has previously been considered.
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After the Norman Conquest of England, much more is known about the River Wey and its landscape. Even the earliest record of the period, Domesday Book, suggests that the river was already being extensively exploited. A number of the manors through which the main river passed note the existence of typical river valley resources such as mills, fisheries and meadows.
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3.4.1 Medieval mills
Mills are recorded at Byfleet, Wisley, Pyrford (2), Send, Woking, Sutton, Worplesdon, Burpham, Stoke-by-Guildford (2), Shalford (3), and Godalming (3) in 1086. It is possible that not all these mills were on the main river. For instance, it is likely that Worplesdon Mill was on a side stream. A number of other mills, such as Ockham, were on artificial streams diverted off the main river. Of these original mills only those at Woking, Stoke and Godalming (Catteshall) are thought to have survived to have any direct effect on the Navigation.
It is not always possible to locate these mills. Those at Wisley, Pyrford, and Burpham are no longer known, and that at Send can only be guessed at. This is perhaps unfortunate, particularly for the Pyrford mill, which has so thoroughly vanished that no one can even offer a guess at where it might have been. This is in spite of detailed accounts surviving for the repair of the mill and manor house there in the years 1282-83 and 1297-98 (Briggs 1935, 77-79).
Other medieval mills can be added to these Domesday sites. For example, in 1235, there were two mills recorded at Weybridge. One of these was 'above' the medieval bridge, the other at 'Feyreford' (Cornford 1911, 475). Two mills are mentioned at Ockham in 1295 (Manning & Bray 1804-14, iii, 121). The plural 'mills' here need not suggest that there were two mills sites at Ockham, as it is common for the number of mills to represent the number of sets of stones. Hence the two 'mills' at Ockham could easily represent two sets of stones on the site of the present Ockham Mill.
If this is so, then there is a good case for arguing that the River Wey had already been diverted into artificial channels long before Sir Richard Weston commenced work on the Navigation in the 1650s. The present Ockham Mill is situated on a long mill stream that leaves the old river below Newark to rejoin it just above Wisley. This would appear to be an artificial creation that could date from before 1295.
There are indications of further mills on the old river. A mill at Guildford must surely have been in existence from an early date, despite its omission from Domesday Book. The earliest known mention of it dates from 1246 (Manning & Bray i, 30). At this date the king would appear to have moved his 'mills' from their ancient site in the parishes of St. Mary and St. Nicholas to a place lower down the river near the gate to Guildford Park. This, we are told, was to the prejudice of the Abbess of Wherwell and others who had a mill on the west side of the river near St. Nicholas' Church, and Sir Richard Testarel who had a mill on the opposite bank. Neither could get a head of water because of the new mill, and had to be paid compensation. The old entrance to Guildford Park is thought to be either near the Town Bridge, or, at least north of it. None of these sites presently bear any indication of a mill. Stidder (1990, 78) claims that the present mill site at Guildford dates from 1295, although he does not give his source for this information.
It would seem that there are at least four medieval mill sites at Guildford in the 13th century. These are the original site of the king's mill, the site by the park, the abbess of Wherwell's mill and that of Sir Richard Testarel. It is nowhere certain how the present mill site fits into this, and it is possible that this may be another, fifth, site.
There were mill sites on the River Wey between Guildford and Godalming before the making of the Godalming section of the Navigation. The site at Catteshall is well documented, and may be a Domesday site. Like many of the other Wey mills, this site had a complex history. By the 14th century, a fulling mill had been set up on the same site to complement the corn mill. In the post-medieval period, the site was used for paper-milling and tanning (Crocker & Crocker 1981, 2-3).
It has long been thought that the mill at Unstead only came into being in the early 1830s. This is probably true for the site near Unstead Lock, but there may have been a mill elsewhere in the medieval period. In 1495-96, there is a record of a croft that stood where the 'millway was' in the 'manor' of Stonebridge near Unstead (Manning & Bray 1804-14, iii, 99). The site of this mill is not currently known, but it is just one of a number of mills mentioned in the medieval period on the Wey or its tributaries that can no longer be accurately located.
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3.4.2 Medieval fisheries
Fishing on the Wey is a subject that has long been overlooked. Yet the harvest of fish, both resident and migratory populations, was an important aspect of the economy of any major river system. There are four fisheries mentioned on the Wey in Domesday Book, and a number of others can be traced from later sources.
There are Domesday fisheries on the Wey at Byfleet, Wisley, Ockham and Send. At Wisley the fishery pays 5d, there are two fisheries at Ockham paying 10d, and five at Send worth 54d. There are one and a half fisheries at Byfleet paying a render of 325 eels (Wood 1975, 19.45, 28.8, 33.1, 36.5). The latter render is common in eleventh-century England, and demonstrates the once important role of eels in the rural economy (Darby 1977, 283-85). They were particularly associated with mill sites, where the miller would frequently set traps where the stream narrowed to catch these migratory fish. In the 19th-century, the miller at Ham Mills, Weybridge, still set eel traps in the old wheel channels there (GMR 129/95/15-16).
Other fisheries are recorded on the river. In 1284 a fishery worth 2/- is recorded in the manor of Weybridge (Manning & Bray 1804-14, ii, 785). In 1287-88 a fishery is mentioned at Worplesdon worth 5/- (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 95), but these are merely isolated mentions that tell us little of the way these features were operated. There is slightly more detail available for the fishery at Woking, first mentioned in a survey of 1281-82 as worth 6/8d. This fishery is clearly reserved to the lord, but its value fluctuates over time. In 1326-27, it is valued at 3/4d; in 1331-32 this has increased to 10/-, but by 1411-12, it is back down to 3/4d (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 117-120). These differences may represent a number of factors, such as the general state of management of the manor. Bearing in mind that some of these values may reflect landlord neglect, the most likely influence is the seasonal changes in fish population over time. To this day rivers are subject to poorly understood variations in fish population that can vary from record-breaking catches in one year to a seemingly almost complete absence within a few seasons. Variation such as this is particularly marked in migratory species such as eels or salmon. A good catch one year could lead to a significant reduction in fish reaching the spawning grounds. This would probably have some knock-on effect on catches in years to come.
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3.4.3 Medieval meadow
The third resource that is found in Domesday Book that relates specifically to river valleys is meadowland. The rich grass crop that can be taken from low-lying grassland has long been prized by farmers. Even before the 'invention' of watermeadows proper, it was well known that the regular flooding of grassland alongside rivers and stream added to their potential to provide improved yields. It is probable that the post-medieval tradition of bringing stock onto the meadows in early spring for their 'spring bite', after the increasing scarcity of good grazing on the upland pastures, can be traced back to prehistoric times. In neighbouring Hampshire, Currie (1994, 115-18) has identified how old trackways can be found to link upland pasturelands with river meadows from a very early date.
The meadows recorded in Domesday manors on the Wey are almost surely from the river valleys. It is well known that meadow is significantly under-represented in Domesday, and so one would not expect the low figures given in the Wey valley to represent anything but a fraction of the real availability. This is demonstrated by the much higher acreages given for meadow in other medieval surveys. Nevertheless, Domesday does at least recognise the resource. Low though the figures are, they are often much higher than those given for manors in Surrey that are some distance from the main watercourses.
The plain statistics for Domesday meadow on manors on the Wey are as follows. The three manors of Weybridge are listed with 16, eight and eight acres of meadow respectively (Wood 1975, 5.26, 8.10, 8.11). Not all of this would have been on the Wey, as the Thames passes through this manor. The same is true of Chertsey. At Byfleet there is six acres recorded (ibid, 28.8), with the same at Wisley (op. cit., 36.5). Ockham only has two acres (op. cit. 19.45), and Pyrford 15 (op. cit., 6.5). Figures become a little closer to the actual acreages at Send where 84 acres are given (op. cit., 33.1). The other Domesday manors also seem to be under-represented; they are Woking, 32 acres, Sutton 20 acres, Worplesdon 8 acres, Burpham 25 acres, Stoke 16 acres, Shalford 4 acres, and Godalming 25 acres (Wood, 1975, 1.2, 1.3, 1.14, 18.2, 18.3, 19.37, 28.1).
Later medieval surveys of meadowland along the Wey valley are often far more detailed. A survey of meadow at Ockham in 1295 gives 20 acres as opposed to two in 1086 (Manning & Bray 1804-14, iii, 121), although acreages are not significantly greater for some of the higher rated Domesday manors. For instance, Sutton has 20 acres in 1086, 37 1/2 acres in 1271-72, 33 in 1331-32, and 30 in 1411-12 (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 131-32). What is perhaps more significant is the high valuation put on meadow, compared with other land uses. In Sutton in 1271-72, the arable lands are valued at between 2d and 3d per acre, whereas the meadow is worth 2/- per acre. The high valuation of meadow is consistent throughout the valley.
At Woking, there are a number of detailed surveys of medieval land use. In 1271-72 there are 300 acres of arable worth 3d per acre, 24 acres of meadow worth 1/6d per acre, 22 acres of pasture worth 4d per acre, and 40 acres of wood worth 6d per acre (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 116). In 1281-82, there are 147 acres of arable worth between 2-3d per acre, but the 40 acres of meadow are worth 2/- per acre. Even nine acres of moorland is worth 1/- per acre, showing that even rough grassland is valued higher than arable land (ibid, 117).
There are some later surveys for Woking that indicate the variable quality of meadowland, and how this could affect its value. In 1326-27, the lands are valued more precisely. The best arable, 86 1/2 acres, is valued at 3d per acre, but the rest (126 1/2 acres) is rated at 1d because it is 'very sandy and barren'. The meadow land is divided between 41 acres worth 18d, and 42 1/2 acres worth 1/- per acre, the latter 'being subject to floods'. There are also 37 acres of 'several' (enclosed) pasture worth only 4d per acre because it is 'very rushy' (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 118).
The meadowland in 1331-32 is broken down even more precisely. Then there were 12 acres worth 2/- per acre, 22 1/2 acres worth 18d, 32 1/2 acres worth 16d, 16 acres worth 1/-, 3 3/4 acres worth 14d, two acres worth 9d, six acres worth 8d and three acres worth 6d per acre (ibid, 119). A further survey of 1411-12 hints that the manor may now be somewhat neglected compared with in earlier times. The water mill is noted as being 'weak and ruinous'. The meadow is given at just over 97 acres, but it is only worth 12d per acre, being only suitable for mowing 'being subject to floods'. There are a number of pastures recorded that are valued only for the summer, as they are worth nothing in the winter as they are 'always flooded'. The arable is here valued at 8d 'when sown' (op. cit., 120), suggesting that the low values of arable represent only the land when used as ley, and not when sown with a crop. Even so, this shows that even relatively poor meadow is more valuable than arable land when it is holding a crop.
It is unlikely that procedures for managing the meadows changed much until relatively recently. A number of the meadow lands were divided into strips, as was the practice in the common arable fields. This was still done on a number of manors right until the enclosure acts of the 18th and 19th centuries. Good examples of large common meadows, managed as a communal effort, survived quite late at Send, Sutton, Walsham, and Godalming. At the latter the common meadows of the town became known relatively late on as the 'Lammas Lands', probably after the tradition that allowed farmers to graze their cattle on the meadows after the July crop of hay had been cut. Lammas Day is now August 1st, from whence the name comes. Recent fieldwork on the Godalming meadows has located three old 'lammas' stones. These were markers put in by the commoners to mark off their plots. Evidentially, many more of these stones had survived until quite recently, despite the practice of commoning the meadow having ended in 1808 with the enclosure of these lands (SRO QS6/4/10). Parts of the Godalming meadows appear to have been of particularly high value. In 1292-93, six acres of meadow at Catteshall was valued at 3/4d per acre (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 616n).
In Woking, the main portion of this manor's extensive meadowland was called Broadmead. Manning and Bray (1804-14, i, 126) describing how they were still managed as late as 1800 in a manner that is reminiscent of earlier medieval practice. This meadow then comprised 150 acres, which was still divided into strips. The meadow was closed in the Spring so that a crop of hay could develop. Thereafter, it was thrown open as cattle pasture until the following spring to any person with common rights.
Most of the Wey manors had relatively large acreages of meadow in the medieval period. It has been noted that the 1411-12 survey for Woking hints at neglect. The flooding noted here probably represents the failure of the local landlords to keep their ditches properly scoured. At a later period, controlled flooding was part of the deliberate management of many of the Wey meadowlands. For the most part, this creation of 'watermeadows' is thought to have been a relatively late phenomenon. When Sir Richard Weston cut his 'flowing river' from Stoke around his estate, so that he could improve his meadows by systematically flooding them, he was considered largely an innovator, who had brought new ideas from the Low Countries (Nash 1969, 36-37). However, this research has discovered a very early reference to deliberate flooding of meadows to improve the grass crop, that could suggest that the practice was undertaken in a crude way on medieval Wey meadows.
The abbot of Westminster, who held Pyrford manor before the Dissolution, had the customs of the manor for 1331-32 written down, and renewed in 1474-75. These included the services that the tenant farmers had to perform on the abbot's demesne land. The customs are worth quoting in full.
This customary gives an insight into the practice of managing a medieval meadow. What is particularly remarkable is the reference to flooding the meadows deliberately. The reference to the meadow at Wachelesham demonstrates the long existence of the large common meadow at Walsham, from which one of the later navigation locks takes its name.
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There is evidence to suggest that materials were already being transported on the Wey in this period. Vine (1986, 5) has shown that Lord Montague had built a lock and a wharf on the river to transport timber from his estates to London by 1566. Cocke (1995, 7n) has suggested that this may have been near New Haw Farm. This suggests that for a relatively small effort, it was possible to move goods for limited distances along the river. Archaeological work at Guildford has suggested that wharfage existed in the town from the medieval period (Guildford Museum staff, pers. comm.), but this may have been accommodating short-distance transport only. For example, it was probably easier to move bulky goods the short distance up river from the south end of the town to the north, than to try to carry those goods through the narrow streets.
It is possible that goods were going greater distances even on the upper reaches of the river. In the 16th century, it seemed possible to carry timber into Guildford on the river from upstream. A complaint from the mayor of Guildford to the Lord Chamberlain is recorded stating that trees are blocking the river between the town and Cranleigh, causing boat passage to be hindered (Nash 1969, 33).
As the cloth trade declined in England, the burgesses of Guildford gradually became convinced that the opening up of a waterway between the town and London could be the cure of the town's malaise. In 1621 the Guildford Corporation tried the then unusual step of petitioning Parliament for this end. The scheme did not advance very far, and it was not unanimously supported by the local landowners. Amongst other things, they felt that river navigation brought with it undesirable people.
'The worst and meanest set of people such commonly as by experience is found in rivers of greater breadth as the country and inhabitants shall endure great damage by filtching and stealing of their goods.' (quoted in Nash 1969, 35)
To combat this opposition, the Corporation sought again to petition Parliament in 1624. Corke (1995, 8) has suggested that George Abbot was a leading light behind these schemes, and although this is possible there is little real evidence to support it beyond a statement made second-hand many years later. An anonymous late 17th-century pamphlet written in defence of James Pitson states that 'about the year 1625 Doctor Abbot... desirous for the benefit of the Town [of Guildford] to have a river made, caused a survey to be taken'. If this survey ever existed, it does not seem to have survived.
A number of commentators consider that the first serious attempt to try to connect Guildford with London by water stems from the experiments carried out by Sir Richard Weston in the first half of the 17th century. These were possibly as a result of his visits to the Low Countries. Here, he seems to have observed water management schemes that suggested to him how the river could be used to greater commercial advantage, both for the management of his personal estates, and for wider trade (Nash 1969, 36).
Weston's earliest activity connected with the river did not concern navigation, but his attempts to use the water of the river to increase the profits from his estates. To improve the value of the meadowland on the Sutton Park estate that he inherited in 1613, he set about creating a feeder for an early system of watermeadows. Most writers on this subject consider that the idea of watermeadows was introduced into England in the early 17th century from Holland. This research has shown that the deliberate drowning of meadows had been traditionally carried out on the Wey at Pyrford by the abbots of Westminster since at least the 14th century.
These medieval methods may have been crude in comparison with Weston's measures, but his work could also be considered primitive when compared with the developed watermeadows of the 19th-century on some of Hampshire's chalk streams (cf. Currie 1990). It seems that Weston's work comprised making a three-mile long cutting near Stoke Mills around Sutton Park from 1618. How the 'flowing river', as it was called, worked is not known. It must be assumed that the channel fed carrier ditches to drown the adjoining meadows from a level higher than the main river, before emptying back into the river. The carriers for the Wey meadows seem to have been relatively insubstantial compared with the high-ridged earthworks to be found on some Hampshire watermeadows.
The channel that survives today begins just above Stoke Lock. In 1618, it was taken around Burpham and Sutton Park, past Ladygrove Farm before being brought back into the river somewhere near Wareham's Farm (SRO 65/2/118). It has been suggested that part of its course was used to make the later Navigation (Corke 1995, 11). This must have been the stretch conjectured between Stoke Mills and the present Stoke Lock. The latter was probably the site of the lock that Weston is supposed to have made to hold the water up at the required level to get the system to operate. Aubrey claims that this enabled 120 acres of meadow to be flooded. From this a yield of 200 loads of hay was obtained, from which 120 loads were sold. This system was estimated to have cost £1500 (Nash 1969, 38-39).
The 1842 tithe map for Stoke (SRO) clearly shows the line of the ditch running parallel with the west bank of the Navigation past an old common meadow called Hook Meadow before making off westwards around Burpham. Deeds for Ladygrove Farm in Sutton, mention the tenant's requirements regarding the upkeep of the 'flowing river' there (GMR 65/5/22). From these sources, it is possible to trace the course of this feature reasonably accurately. Weston was also supposed to have been involved with creating a paper mill at Stoke after taking out a long lease on the existing mills there (Stidder 1990, 87).
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It is not intended that this report should cover the political wrangling concerned with creation of the Navigation, as this has been covered in detail by Corke (1995). It should be sufficient to provide a summary here, and to move on to the effect that the construction had on the landscape of the Wey valley.
Sir Richard Weston seems to have originated the idea for the creation of the Navigation as it presently exists. As early as the 1630s he seems to have been considering schemes to create a navigation from London to Arundel via the Wey. According to William Bray the idea had been formulated soon after the successful completion of the 'flowing river'. It was not until 1635 that anything positive was done to push the scheme forward. In this year Weston was one of 24 people employed by Charles I to make enquiry into the possibilities of making a navigation from London to Arundel. Before Weston left England in 1644, it was said that he had reached agreement with all the landowners needed to bring a navigation from Weybridge to Guildford. Unfortunately, the Civil War put a temporary hold on the scheme.
By the time Weston returned to England, the political situation had changed, and Parliament was the ruling authority. To advance his scheme further, Weston seems to have decided to use the influence of a Parliamentarian army officer, James Pitson. In December of 1650 a successful presentation was made to Parliament on behalf of the Guildford Borough to make the Wey navigable. On 26th June 1651 the enabling Act was passed, entitled 'An act for Making Navigable the River of Wye [sic]'. Originally 24 shares of £250 each were raised to pay for the project, but these were found to be insufficient, and further funds had to be raised. Within the first nine months it is said that about three quarters of artificial cut necessary was completed. This had used up all the money raised from the shares, plus an estimated £2000 worth of timber taken from the Weston estates. This was still not enough, and a further four shares worth an additional £1000 were sold to raise more money (Manning & Bray 1804-14, iii, lv). The Borough of Guildford was quick to bow out of the proceedings, passing their interest to four appointed men, John Howe, John Waltham, Richard Scotcher and James Pitson. Howe and Waltham also passed on their responsibilities, leaving the work of construction in the hands of Pitson and Scotcher. The land through which the new cuttings had to be made was bought by the equivalent of a compulsory purchase. Work was said to have started in August or September 1651. Sir Richard Weston agreed to undertake the construction, but died in May 1653 before the work was completed. There then followed a complex sequence of events whereby the rest of the work was finished by Pitson, and the Navigation opened to traffic in November 1653. To finance the work Pitson and Scotcher were forced to sell a third of their interest to Richard Darnelly of London (Corke 1995, 15-20).
It would appear that Pitson had left many people unpaid, both for work done and for land taken. This led to a series of disputes, which caused the Navigation to be neglected. By 1657 Richard Scotcher had been sufficiently alienated from his former partner to issue a pamphlet denouncing the Pitson's actions. This document is entitled 'A Short Narrative of the proceedings concerning the making the river Wey Navigable, and the severall transactions sinc it was begun unto this time, beeing November, 1657' (SAS Library PF/GFD/266).
This document is not short at all, being some 15 pages long. It is clearly a one sided opinion, seemingly from a man who had become much embittered by events. The basis of Scotcher's arguments was that Pitson had made promises to various people that had not been kept, and that money owed to others connected with the project had been retained by Pitson. The exact details need not concern us. The reader will find a copy of Scotcher's statement attached to this report as Appendix 2.
On the Restoration of Charles II, William Dickinson of Middle Temple was appointed trustee to try to sort out the many problems that had arisen. Dickinson had originally been appointed to look after the interests that the Weston family still held in the scheme. There then ensued a long fight between the various vested interests with one John Radcliffe.
Radcliffe had obtained a royal commission to look after the Crown's interest in the Navigation in 1662, after he had claimed that it passed through Royal Forest. He tried to obtain an Act of Parliament to gain control of the Navigation, but was strongly resisted by the other interests and failed in his objective. In 1664 he tried to gain control again by applying for a Royal Patent. Under this the profits were suspended until the issue was settled by the Chief Baron of the Exchequer, but again no decision was forthcoming. By now the affair had become even further complicated by the increasing number of claimants involved.
In 1670 William Sandys took over Radcliffe's claim, and passed it on to Thomas Tindall and Thomas Cressy. These two also obtained Pitson's claim. Quite how any of these people became involved is not entirely clear, although both Corke (1995, 29-30), Manning and Bray (1804-14, iii, lvi-lvii) and Vine (1986, 10-15) offer partial explanations, but none of these fully resolve the question. Eventually it was decided that a new Act of Parliament was needed to resolve everything. The old Act of 1651 was relegated to the status of a 'pretended act', and new powers were awarded vesting the interests of the claimants with trustees. As part of these arrangements it was agreed that the Corporation of Guildford should henceforth receive 1d for every ton carried. Mr Dalmahoy, the owner of lands to the north of the town, should be granted 4d for every ton carried through his lands, and rent of £20 per annum on the wharf at Dapdune. In return the Navigation was given passage through his lands, and a 1000 year lease on Dapdune. Lord Montague, Lord of the manor of Send and Ripley was granted 2 1/2d on every ton that passed through the river.
According to Manning and Bray (1804-14, iii, lvii) there were still 87 claims to be settled after 1671. Finally in 1674 Dickinson, Tindall and Cressy decided to unite their interests, and divide them into two equal moieties. The Trustees agreed to this, and appointed these parties as the managers and receivers of the river. There was some minor resistance ti this arrangement by a man called Lander, but this does not appear to have been successful.
Dickinson died in 1675, and his rights were divided between Mrs Anne Smithsby and others. Mrs Smithsby eventually managed to reunite these shares in her own hand. It was not until 1677 that Mrs Smithsby, Tindall and Cressy got possession. They found the river in a ruinous condition. Sir Nicholas Stoughton is supposed to have taken the law into his own hands when his claim to money owed was not met. Manning and Bray (1804-14, iii, lvii-lviii) claim that he cut down five of the locks, and threw down the banks in a number of places. This was largely a dispute over the sharing of water between the Navigation and Stoke Mills. According to his claim, he lost money every time a barge passed Stoke as it was necessary to close off water to the mill to allow sufficient depth of water in the Navigation for passage. This was eventually settled by agreeing to pay him, as owner of Stoke Mill, so much for every barge that passed that mill. The Proprietors of the Navigation were also obliged to come to similar agreements with Woking and Newark Mills. The problem of sharing water with these mills continued to plague the Navigation throughout its history (cf. GMR 129/86/1-5).
In 1676 Thomas Cressy died, and his share was purchased by the Tindall interest. The Smithsby moiety passed briefly to Anthony Gawdy in 1679, who died soon after. This share eventually passed to the family of the earls of Portmore. Thomas Tindall followed his former partner in 1681, leaving his claim to his daughter, Mary. She had married George Langton of Lincoln, and their family subsequently became joint owners with the Portmores. Both families were fortunately long-lived, continuing to hold their rights in the Navigation throughout the 18th and well into the 19th century. This, at last, gave the Navigation the stable ownership it needed, and its history became gradually more settled after c. 1681. Nevertheless, there can be no question that the thirty years between 1651 and 1681 were difficult times for the new undertaking.
One must assume that somehow those involved in its everyday operation had continued to function reasonably well in spite of the often acrimonious bickering that seems to have continued behind the scenes. The picture of decay and neglect that so many of the histories give may be one-sided, as it is difficult to imagine if things were really so bad as the protagonists would have it, that the Navigation survived at all. For example, in the years when the dispute was at its keenest, 1654-1662, considerable sums were still being collected as riverage. During this time £7330-5-6d was taken in tolls. Admittedly, the share of this money is greater in the years at the beginning of this period, but it seems that even during the worst periods traffic still managed to produce a modest revenue (GMR 129/61/2).
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Following Dickinson's death in 1675, Tindal and Cressy had taken control of the Wey Navigation. By 1681 they had both died, and their shares had passed to George Langton by 1699, who maintained sole control until 1715. At this date Dickinson's heir, Winifred Hodges, obtained joint control. The Dickinson moiety was sold to Lord Portmore in 1723, and the Navigation remained in the joint control of the Langtons and Portmores until well into the 19th century. With the death of the third Lord Portmore in 1835, this moiety passed to his nephew James Dawkins, and was subsequently divided amongst his heirs, threatening to disrupt the relatively uncomplicated management that had occurred for the last century. The Portmore shares were purchased eventually by the Stevens' family in 1888 (Corke 1995, 48).
A similar problem arose with the other moiety following the death of Bennet Langton in 1801. These shares were mortgaged after Bennet's death, and remained in an unstable situation for many years. This included a long complex case in Chancery between 1840 and 1849, that resulted in the moiety passing to the Hussey family. The various fractions of this moiety were collected together and purchased by William Stevens III by 1911 (ibid, 49).
The Stevens' family had gradually began to take control of the Navigation earlier in the 19th century. They first appeared on the scene c. 1812 when William Stevens I was appointed lock-keeper at Triggs Lock. In 1820 he was 'promoted' to lock-keeper at Thames Lock (Vine 1986, 254), a position that was in many ways that of the most important lock-keeper, controlling entry and exit to the Navigation. In 1823 he was 'promoted' again to act as wharfinger at Guildford, where he remained until 1856, building up his own business as a coal merchant as a sideline. William I was succeeded as Guildford wharfinger by his son, William Stevens II. He maintained this post until his death in 1890.
It was during the time of William Stevens II that the family seriously begin to take control of the Navigation. With the ending of the personal interest of the Langton and Portmore families in the first half of the 19th century, this had left a managerial vacuum that the Stevens family were naturally situated to fill. William II was appointed manager of the Godalming Navigation in 1869, and had purchased the old Portmore interest by 1888. On his death in 1890, his son William Stevens III took over personal management of both the Wey and the Godalming Navigations, and sought to gain full control through the purchase of the remaining shares. To all intents this had been achieved by 1911, although obscure minor fractions remained outstanding after this. To all intents the Navigations were under the Stevens' control from 1890.
Although many commentators (Corke 1995, 49) consider that the Navigations were never effectively run until on onset of Stevens' management in the later 19th century, the years that the Wey Navigation was under the joint control of the Portmore and Langton families were more effective than many would give credit. It was certainly under their ownership that the Wey Navigation achieved its maximum profitability, and, judging from the detailed archive that survives, seems to have been well managed.
With the appointment of Ben Wetton as agent c. 1700, George Langton managed to gain a measure of personal control over an organisation that had hitherto been plagued by petty division. The letters of the period between Wetton and his employers demonstrate that the river had come at last into some form of centralised order. The arrival of the Portmores on to the scene in 1723 does not seem to have diminished this. If anything, their proximity to the river at Ham Haw may have increased efficiency. It is from shortly after this, in 1724, that the first account books begin to be kept (GMR 129/7/1). One can only assume that the arrival of a 'live' partner to the Langton forced the issue, in that more effective accounts needed to be kept so that the profits might be fairly divided. There is little evidence in the records for any real friction between the two families during the 18th century.
In the late 1750s the idea of extending the Navigation to the important market town of Godalming became a matter of serious consideration. In 1759 the first Act to achieve this failed to pass through Parliament, but in 1760 a successful Act was passed. This was entitled 'An Act for extending and continuing the Navigation of the river Wey, otherwise Wye, in the county of Surrey, to the town of Godalming in the same county' (Corke 1995, 57). Initially this four and a half mile extension could be seen to be of great benefit to the local inhabitants, and it continued to maintain a healthy trade until the coming of the railways. The venture was to be run by a body of Commissioners, who had the power to raise money, keep accounts and appoint officers.
Following the opening of the Godalming Navigation c. 1764 the joint owners of the Wey section must have perceived the opportunity for increased profit. From hereon there is decided evidence that the Wey Navigation's management was re-organised. The old system whereby the river was controlled by the rural wharfingers was gradually replaced. Beginning with the construction of lock-houses at Thames and Papercourt Locks in 1765 and 1766 respectively (GMR 129/7/2), the responsibility for the locks and bank maintenance was transferred to the lock-keepers. There was some suggestion that this had started before 1760, but the building of lock-houses at most of the more important locks set the seal on this change. All the existing lock-houses seem to have been built by the 1790s.
By this time the Navigation's profits were gradually rising. The annual tolls and tonnage carried had remained largely stagnant between 1724 and 1758, but after 1764 they began to slowly rise. There was a steeper rise in profits from the 1780s that may have been helped by the opening of the Basingstoke Canal (in 1794), but the signs are that tonnage was already on the increase before it was finally opened for its entire length. The opening of Coxes Mill in 1777 must have been one of a number of factors that contributed to the increased tonnage in these years. By the late 1780s 4,000 tons were often loaded here annually. The gradual increase in industrial activity all along the river since the 1760s, was greatly increased with the advent of the wars with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France over the period 1793-1815.
With the English Channel no longer safe for trade, coastal traders began to look for alternatives. Rather than head for the south coast, and ply their wares by ship to London, many southern merchants went overland to Godalming, Guildford and Basingstoke to take advantage of the barge traffic available from these towns. Between the early 1790s and the end of the wars in 1815 the trade on the Navigations had almost doubled. During this time, efforts were made to link the south coast to London by inland waterways via the Wey and Arun rivers. This was finally achieved in 1816, too late to take advantage of the boom years of war.
Although the trade on the Wey and Arun Canal was a disappointment, it must have led to some increase on the Wey. If so, this did not compensate for the heightened activity during the French wars. There was a slight decline in trade between 1815 and 1820, with a sharper drop in the early 1820s (Vine 1986, 259).
Hereafter recovery set in, and the later 1820s and the 1830s were the golden years of inland waterways. The Wey Navigation's trade grew, and went on to peak at 86,003 tons per annum in 1838. Thereafter it fell back over the 1840s as competition from the new railways took much of the trade away. The railways destroyed the small trade on the Wey and Arun Canal. As early as the 1850s, this waterway had gone into a terminal decline. Its closure in 1871 did not cause the Wey Navigation great concern, although any loss of trade must have been worrying in these times. Nevertheless, its closure had a greater effect on the Godalming Navigation.
The railways had caused serious problems to this section. Whereas there were large corn mills on the Wey that preferred to send its produce to and from London by water, there was no mainstay business on the Godalming section that could not be taken better by train. The Godalming Navigation faded rapidly after the 1850s, and was only kept going by the continuing modest trade that the Stevens' family fought for on the Wey.
With the coming of the railways, many of the shareholders on the Wey Navigation seem to have gradually lost interest. This enabled the Stevens' family to buy up shares as they came onto the market. Their determination to keep the Navigation going led them to make many changes in the interests of efficiency. It is only under them that records are kept of the sale of wood from the trees that grew along the bank. No doubt this commodity was used by previous Proprietors, but for the Stevens' family every penny gained helped maintain the Navigation against the general decline in water traffic that was besetting inland waterways throughout the UK. Although tonnage fell gradually from over 70,000 tons in 1845, down to 24,581 in 1890, the advent of what was effectively full control by William Stevens III after this date led to a brief recovery. From this year through to 1910 the tonnage averaged well over 30,000 per annum, and the war years, 1914-18, even saw it rise to 51,115 tons in 1918.
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By national standards, the trade on the Wey Navigation between the two World Wars (1918-39), was healthy. Although tonnage vacillated between 36,980 (1921) and 55,622 (1927) tons per annum, the overall average was good, upwards of 45,000 tons (Vine 1986, 259). Nevertheless, the signs of increased competition were apparent. Receipts were less per ton than in the early 19th century, despite some inflation.
The continuation of respectable trade on the Wey Navigation in the first half of the 20th century whilst other canals failed is due to a number of factors. The direct connection with London Docks and the numerous important corn mills on the River Wey was a major factor. The other was the concentration of management into the hands of the Stevens family, not only as sole owners, but as an important trader in their own right who continued to use the Navigations.
The Stevens' family, as well as being navigation managers, were coal merchants. Throughout the first part of the 20th century, this had been the main fuel in domestic homes throughout England. Harry Stevens, the last owner of the Navigation, had brought coal to Guildford in his own barges. This helped to bolster the declining trade on the river into the 1950s, but from hereon other methods of heating the home led to coal becoming less popular as fuel, particularly in affluent Surrey. After the war improved road transport also had its influence on the decline of traffic.
Another reason for the survival of the Navigation under the Stevens' family, minor though it may have been, was the increase in pleasure boating from the middle of the 19th century onwards. Although tolls on pleasure craft could never compensate for the loss of commercial traffic, it added its weight to the reasons for keeping the river open. As early as 1857 the Godalming Commissioners expressed concern that the pleasure boats operating out of Guildford by Mr Apark were causing damage to Millmead Lock through improper use (GMR 142/1/3). In the 1890s the new middle class housing estates, such as Dartnell Park near New Haw, were building their own boat houses to increase their selling potential amongst prospective buyers. The use of the Navigations by pleasure boats has continued to increase throughout the 20th century.
From 1890 until 1930 the Navigations were under the control of William Stevens III. He completed the acquisition of title to the property in 1911. About 1912 William III went to court to get an order to transfer the power of the Trustees to his family. He did this mainly to obtain the ability to sell off parts of the property if he required it (Alan Wardle pers. comm.). Although there were still minor shares to be purchased, this gave the family full control of the management of the Wey Navigation. William III continued to act as manager to the Godalming section, but this part of the river had never recovered from the coming of the railway to Godalming in the later 1840s.
Harry Stevens took over the running of the Navigations from his father in 1930. It was shortly after this that a major restructuring of the water management system in the Wey valley was undertaken by the County Council to improve flood relief. This had been begun in 1928 when C H J Clayton was commissioned to undertake a report on the river valley drainage (GMR 1496/1). The work was begun in 1930 and included the building of a number of new weirs and relief channels. The largest was probably that known as the Broad Mead Cut between Cartbridge and Papercourt. Many of the original plans for these works are still retained in the National Trust map chest at Dapdune.
Although trade was initially good in the 1930s, decline from the end of the decade could not be reversed. From the 1920s a number of the industries along the Wey ceased to operate, or began to use road transport. The closure of Newark Mill during the Second World War was just one of the many blows to barge traffic on the Wey. The Godalming Navigation was all but derelict by the 1940s, and with the loss of the trade from Coxes Mill over the 1960s, the Wey Navigation was unable to continue running commercial traffic.
The last commercial barge ran in 1969, but Harry Stevens had already seen the sign of the times. He had given the Wey Navigation to the National Trust in 1964, with the absolute title passing to them on the death of his wife in 1971 (Dapdune Archives W176.2/3). In 1968 the Commissioners of the Godalming Navigation handed over their rights to the Guildford Corporation, who transferred them to the National Trust, thus bringing both sections of the river into common ownership for the first time (National Trust 1990, 3).
The Trust inherited a number of the difficulties experienced by the previous owners. They needed to secure sufficient income to make the property self-financing. At the same time, they needed to continue to employ sufficient maintenance staff to keep the river open to pleasure barges, one of their main sources of income. About 30% of the property's income derives from this sources (Stephen Walker, Managing Agent, pers. comm.). For the last thirty years or so the supervision of the river maintenance has been under the charge of Vince Locatelli, who lives at Worsfold Gates, the old Carpenter's Yard. Under his direction, many of the locks had their piecemeal conversion to straight-sided brick pounds completed.
In the 1980s there was a revival in commercial trade between Tilbury and Coxes Mill, but this was short-lived. In more recent years, the Trust has become concerned with the rapid pace of development along the banks of the river. This, together with a concern to rationalise their relationships with their many neighbours, led to the appointment of Green Balance, environmental and planning consultants. Their role has been to co-ordinate the many requirements of the Trust necessary to allow effective management of the property as a heritage, recreational and amenity resource. To this end negotiations have begun with the various councils through which the Navigations flow. This report was commissioned late in 1995 as part of this process.
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3.9.1 Introduction to the trade
It is not considered that this report is the place for a detailed study to be made of the trade of the Navigations. The subject, in itself, could easily constitute enough material to generate a number of PhD theses. This report intends to give only a broad overview of the subject, in the hope of generating further research by others in the future.
A number of studies of the early Navigation on the Wey have seemed to suggest that the trade on the river was constantly interrupted by disputes and inefficient management. It would seem from the evidence gathered to date that this was exaggerated. Even allowing that there was some disruption in the period 1651 to 1671, this may not have been a great deal worse than the disruption that was caused by the need to repair locks during the Navigation's later history. It would seem that every time a lock was thoroughly repaired, there would be a stoppage on that part of the river for a time, sometimes days, sometimes a few weeks. The account books from 1724 onwards seem to suggest that on average there is at least one major lock repair every year, and up to two-three lesser repairs also requiring stoppage. Bearing this in mind, it would seem that every year, a number of weeks were lost to stoppages of various kinds. It seems, therefore, that the disruption to the Navigation in the 1650s and 1660s, when the river was essentially new, and possibly less prone to needing extensive repair, may have been less than in times when the Navigation was otherwise in fine fettle.
An account exists for the riverage received between April 1654 and March 1662 that suggests that the profits from the river were not inconsiderable. This was around the time when Sir Nicholas Stoughton is supposed to have thrown down the banks and destroyed five locks. The accounts were as follows:
|1st April 1654-10th August 1656||£3623-9-3d|
|11th August 1656-31st August 1658||£1183-4-?d*|
|1st September 1658-24th June 1662||£1495-2-0d|
|1st April 1654-31st August 1658||£900-0-0d**|
* riverage earned by four given barges only
** riverage earned by the 'row barge' only
When all things are considered, such as difficult landowners, internal factions within the management, the probable incompleteness of this account and the early days of the trade, it is difficult not to consider these returns more than reasonable. Following the new Act of 1671, the Navigation became more stable. To argue that it was genuinely inefficiently run while it was in the hands of the Langton-Portmore alliance goes against a study of the real evidence made during this research. Things may not have been absolutely perfect, but the surviving documents suggest that the agents of the Langtons and the Portmores were conscientious, and ran a reasonably tight ship. The account books that survive from 1724 onwards are as efficiently run as any other comparable books from other contemporary enterprises. One suspects that the adverse impression of the management of the river before the Stevens' family took over is partisan, and probably derives from a bias originating from the Stevens' family itself.
From the early days of the Navigation there were a number of charges made upon it that could have sunk an inefficient organisation. These were agreed as part of the 1671 Act. They included a 'Twopence halfpenny Toll' paid on every load to the Lord of the Manor of Ripley and Send (Lord Montague); a '4d Toll or Groats' on every load paid to Thomas Dalmahoy for passage through his land north of Guildford, and 'The River Pence' a toll of one penny per load paid to the Guildford Corporation to be distributed amongst the poor. On top of this, the millers of Stoke, Woking and Newark claimed payment of 5/6d per barge over 20 tons every time they had to close down their sluices to let heavily laden barges pass.
These charges were a major inconvenience to the Proprietors. Over the years they gradually managed to buy most of these charges back into their own hands. Lord Montague's rights were leased for a lump sum, and then bought outright for £1050 in 1783. The Groats were subdivided into numerous fractions. Many of these became merged with the Langton moiety as they came onto the market, but the Stevens family did not manage to buy the last of these until 1930. The River Pence became a fixed payment of £40 by 1742, and was still charged at this rate in 1927. The payment to the millers never entirely went away until the mills closed down, but the situation was alleviated by the so-called 'millers' indenture' of 1832 (GMR 129/129), which ensured that the Proprietors got better value for their money than in times past.
The main trade on the river was initially the carriage of timber to London. From the very beginning, the farmers with land on the banks at Stoke found it profitable to lease out their fields for the storage of timber. This continued throughout the 18th century, and there are frequent references to the ten acres available at Dapdune being full, thereby causing additional storage to be hired (eg GMR 129/7/1 passim, 129/44/38). With the creation of the Godalming Navigation, the pressure on Dapdune was somewhat alleviated, as new wharves were set up at Stonebridge and Godalming. These were often nearer to those areas that had previously used Dapdune, and they seem to have taken a proportion of the Dapdune trade away. Early records of the goods processed at Stonebridge and Godalming suggest that there was considerable trade at both places in the later 18th century (GMR 142/2/1). Between 1775 and 1800 Godalming was consistently the busiest wharf on both Navigations (GMR 129/7/4a), taking more loads than Guildford, and on average 6-10 times more overall goods than Dapdune.
After timber, the main cargoes included corn, coal, groceries, iron, chalk and gunpowder.
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It has been shown above that at the end of the 14th century, a vast area around Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey transported timber to Ham Wharf on the Thames. This commodity was certainly coming from as far away as Farnham in the far south-west of Surrey, and parts of north-east Hampshire (Price 1996, 7). Following the creation of the Wey Navigation, it became easier to transport these heavy loads to Guildford. An Act of Parliament of 1757 made provision for the road to be widened all the way from Arundel in Sussex to Dapdune Wharf to allow timber to get there more easily.
The royal forests of NE Hampshire, particularly Alice Holt and Woolmer, and the Wealden woodlands in Surrey and NW Sussex all took advantage of the Wey to transport their produce, mainly oak timber, although elm and ash wood are also mentioned in the various accounts. With the creation of the Basingstoke Canal in the 1780s, much of the Hampshire traffic was diverted along this route, although the Wey Navigation still picked up the tolls for passage on the section from New Haw to the Thames.
It is possible that the amount of timber travelling from some of the smaller wharves downstream from Dapdune has been underestimated. In 1704 it was estimated that the Sutton estate would be felling £1000 worth of timber that would need storing at the wharf field at Triggs Lock before passage on to London (GMR 129/44/38). As late as 1804, when the Proprietors were having trouble retaining their rights to use land at the old Send Wharf at Highbridge, it is reported that there is still a large amount of timber lying there (GMR 129/27/13).
From the late 18th century, Scandinavian timber began to arrive in this country as 'deals', or planks. As the 19th century progressed more of this material found its way upstream to Guildford and Godalming. By the 1840s a large 'timber wharf' was temporarily to be found near Tilthams House on the Godalming/ Shalford boundary (SRO Tithe map for Godalming). As late as 1900 there were still a large number of private timber yards and wharves all along the river, particularly at Guildford. For example, part of the old Leas meadow was still used as a timber yard in 1904, when the owners went bankrupt (GMR 129/142/15).
Thomas Liberty, a local timber merchant, must have considered that there was sufficient trade in timber on the river to set up a saw mill at Black Boy Bridge in 1843 (GMR 129/10/78). This was still running in 1888, when he was still paying over £20 a year for wharfage on the bank (GMR 129/141/4). William Stevens III made some profit from the willows and alders lining the banks during the First World War, selling the pollarded wood for making charcoal for the gunpowder mills at Chilworth (GMR 137/12/40, pp. 44-45).
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The numerous mills on the river made much use of the Navigation to transport their produce. In the early days most of the corn came from the locality. It was then ground to flour at places like Guildford, Stoke, Bowers, Woking, Newark and Ockham Mills before the surplus was transported to London. In the early 18th century Daniel Defoe has been frequently quoted as stating that corn from as far away as Farnham was being taken to Guildford to be ground, before passage on to London (Corke 1995, 42).
The mill at Newark had its own private wharf and barge for the carriage of corn and flour on the river. Considering the isolation of this mill before the 19th century, the accounts show a not inconsiderable quantity of goods being processed at this point between 1775 and 1800 (GMR 129/7/4a). One might assume that a good proportion of up to 300 loads per quarter handled here at this time was to do with the mill.
From the middle of the 19th century, foreign grain was being brought into this country in considerable quantities. Coxes Mill developed as a large industrial site to grind this corn for the London market. By the mid-20th century, this site was still a major user of the Navigation. Barges continued to transport grain and flour to and from Coxes Mill until 1969, and played a considerable part in keeping the Navigation viable long after many similar waterways had ceased to function as commercial routes.
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Iron milling was another industry that grew up alongside the Navigation. Ham Mills set up alongside Thames Lock as an iron mill in 1691, and continued to operate as such until 1817. The short distance to the Thames from this spot probably meant that the Proprietors gained little worthwhile revenue from this source. They may have benefited from the transport of produce from the iron mills at Byfleet, as the road journey to New Haw, and then on to the Thames by river was probably its most convenient route to its market.
It was not until Alex Raby set up his iron mill at Coxes Lock in 1777 that iron became a major cargo on the river. Then, until the early 19th century, considerable quantities of iron found their way downriver to the Thames from this spot. By the last quarter of 1777, 541 loads were transported from the new mill. By the end of the 1780s, this often exceeded 1000 loads per quarter (GMR 129/7/4a).
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Coal was one of the main commodities to be transported upriver to Guildford. In the early 18th century coal pens were built at Guildford to accommodate this. Many of the most successful barge owners on the river were coal merchants. Many, like William Elkins, had their own wharves, and one of the Stevens' families most important cargoes was coal. This trade continued to grow until the railways came in the 1840s and 1850s. Nevertheless the Stevens' barges continued to bring considerable quantities of coal to Guildford well into the present century.
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Gunpowder was an important cargo on the Navigation from an early date. When Pitson tried to set up the first Guildford wharf on the site of the Leas Meadow in 1651-52, one of the major objections of his neighbour, Lady Dirleton, was the dangerous proximity of his gunpowder store to housing (Corke 1995, 35). As a result the site had to be abandoned, in favour of Dapdune. The present Wharf Cottage began its life as a powder store, and was still used as such in 1800 (GMR 129/29/54), despite the fact that the majority of this commodity was transported from Stonebridge after 1764.
With the building of the Godalming Navigation, there was less need to bring gunpowder around Guildford by road. The gunpowder store at Stonebridge may have been the storehouse erected in 1792 (GMR 142/1/2). With the opening of the Wey and Arun Canal in 1816, gunpowder could also be transported southwards to Portsmouth for the Navy. The gunpowder trade on the river did not stop until 1921 (Corke 1995, 62).
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Chalk and lime were always important cargoes on the river. Collins (1969, 50) seems to suggest that the trade was only of consequence after 1772 and before 1830. Certainly the period 1770-1830 saw this trade at its height on the river, but there was still a noteworthy quantity moving on the river both before, and to a lesser extent, after these dates.
Chalk and lime were transported on the river in considerable quantities to help in the initial construction (GMR 129/45/33). Chalk continued to be one of the main materials used for repairing the banks throughout the Navigation's history (GMR 129/107/1).
With the opening up of the Godalming Navigation, the opportunity was taken to further develop chalk pits at the end of Quarry Street, and under St. Catherine's Hill. Both had their own wharves (GMR 142/1/1), and were being worked to supply the building trade in London with lime. Even Alex Raby at Coxes Lock seemed to try to take advantage of this boom, by building a lime kiln at Coxes Lock (GMR 129/29/59), and possibly two others at New Haw Wharf.
The bottom seemed to be falling out of this trade by 1823, when the quarry owners started to experience competition from Kent (GMR 129/13/56). Although chalk continued to be carried on the Navigation after this, it was largely local traffic. The London trade looked increasingly to Dorking and Kent from hereon.
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3.9.8 Groceries and miscellaneous goods
Butter, sugar, salt, and all sorts of edible goods came upriver to Guildford and Godalming before this trade was gradually taken away by the railways. The first diary of the Godalming Wharfinger, covering the period 1774-83, is particularly detailed in listing minute detail of these cargoes. Even small items such as nails could be usefully carried in bulk on the river (GMR 142/2/1). In the early days of the Navigation rags were carried to the paper mills at various sites along the river for pulping into paper. In the later 19th century esparto grass from South America was carried to the paper mills at Catteshall for conversion into paper, but the process was extremely toxic and was later abandoned (Crocker & Crocker 1981, 19; see under mills, Catteshall, p. 113).
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3.9.9 Traffic volume
Details of total annual tonnage and the tolls taken on the river are available from 1724 in the various account books (GMR 129/7/1 etc). Before 1775, the annual tonnage seldom exceeded 20,000 tons by very much. In some years, such as 1734-35, the tonnage dropped as low as 13,000, the lowest figure recorded before 1962. The average between 1724 and 1775 is quite close to 20,000 tons, but there is no discernible pattern in the figures beyond a slight rise in the average after 1764, probably the result of the opening of the Godalming Navigation.
This also seems to coincide with a shake-up amongst the employees of the Navigation. There are a number of dismissals recorded between 1764 and 1766, too many to be old age retirement. One suspects that those employees who had not given their full attention to their job are got rid of. Furthermore from 1764 onwards administration of the Navigation seems to have been overhauled. Whereas previously those in charge of certain sections of the river had been based at wharves, a programme of building seems to have been set in motion to redirect the centres of operations in the country areas to the locks. All the lock-keepers' houses seem to date to the period 1765-82, with the possible exception of Stoke, which does not seem to be mentioned before 1791.
The reorganisation only seems to have had a slight knock-on effect on trade to begin with. There is even a slight drop in trade around 1773-74 when the annual tonnage dropped below 20,000 tons for the first time since the opening of the Godalming Navigation (Vine 1986, 259). However, this quickly recovers reaching 29,280 tons in 1781, and going over 30,000 tons for the first time the following year. The gradual opening of the Basingstoke Canal from 1784 does not seem to have a bad effect on the Navigation. The tonnage continued to rise reaching 45,500 tons in 1796, possibly helped by the Napoleonic Wars. By 1812, a new high was reached with 65,279 tons. Figures were less consistent following peace, but a good average in the 50,000s was maintained until the 1830s, when tonnages rise again.
Other events beside the opening of adjoining canals and war, may have helped to boost figures. The opening of Coxes Iron Mill in 1777 was worth nearly 4000 extra tons a year by the late 1780s. The account books begin to record a new wharf at Byfleet from the mid-1760s. This is probably the wharf just above Parvis Bridge. It did only a small trade to begin with, seldom exceeding 200 tons per annum, but by 1790 it is often handling as much as 2000 tons each year (GMR 129/7/4a, 129/7/5a). It is possible that it stole some trade for the declining New Haw Wharf, but this wharf must have lost trade to the new wharves along the Basingstoke Canal anyway. The figures between 1775-1800 show no appreciable drop-off here, annual trade being less than 250 ton/loads in 1776 (ibid). If anything, the trade at New Haw rises slightly by the 1790s in keeping with the general increase all along the river.
The results of the opening of the Wey and Arun Canal in 1816 must have increased trade for a while on the Godalming Navigation, and may have affected the general increase between 1764 and 1838 on the Wey Navigation. If this is so, it does not seem to show up in the figures for the latter. There is a slight increase in trade from 55,612 tons in 1816 to 63,193 tons in 1819, but this is followed by a drop to 43,000 in 1824. The Wey and Arun failed to live up to expectations (Vine 1986, 242), and apart from causing a temporary increase in local traffic on the Godalming stretch of the river, it seems to have had only a modest effect on the trade of the Wey Navigation.
The 1830s were the heyday of the Wey Navigation. Tonnage rose to 86,003 in 1838 (Vine 1986, 259), and although it managed to stay over 60,000 until 1846, the coming of the railways had serious consequences, taking much of the canal trade away throughout England. The railways certainly caused the Wey and Arun to close in 1868, and the Godalming Navigation was never able to command a significant trade again. For reasons that have still not been fully explained the Wey Navigation rode out the storm of the railways, and managed to maintain a respectable trade until 1939.
Trade on the Wey Navigation slowly declined during the later 19th century. From 60,000 tons in the early 1860s, trade fell to 24,581 tons in 1890. By this time the Godalming trade seldom exceeded 3,000 tons, although it managed to retain this modest figure until the end of the First World War. Only two barges worked on the Godalming Navigation after 1918. The Chilworth gunpowder trade stopped in 1921, and although carrying coals to the Broadford Fibre Works sustained a presence on this stretch, the trade was almost dead after 1921. Barges ceased to visit Godalming after 1925. A brief need to supply an emergency food storage depot at Unstead Lock kept a part of the upper river in commercial use during the Second World War. After 1946, the Fibre Works ceased taking coal by barge, and in 1951 Stonebridge Wharf was no longer used (Vine 1986, 210).
The Wey Navigation seems to have picked up after 1890. The failure of the Godalming trade seems to have had only minor consequences. By the first decade of the 20th century, tonnage was still averaging over 30,000 tons, and it continued to rise to 51,115 tons by 1918. However, revenues were not keeping up with costs so well, and in relative terms the tolls collected were becoming less profitable. The 1920s continued to see a general rise in tonnage, with 55,622 tons carried in 1927. Even in the 1930s the average was over 50,000 tons until 1937, when there was a sharp drop to 40,895. The tonnage dropped to 33,212 tons in the following year, and was 26,932 tons in 1940. There was a brief recovery during the rest of the war, but after 1946 tonnage dropped again, and this time did not recover. In 1952 it fell below 20,000 for the first time since 1774. Exactly a decade late it had fallen to below 10,000 tons. By 1969 only 2658 tons were carried in the first half of that year. From hereon Coxes Mill ceased using barge traffic, and the last main commercial user of the river took its remaining operations to the roads and railways.
Why did the Wey Navigation manage to hang on with respectable traffic for so long? One factor was the management. As the trade declined, so management became more effective. Over the 19th century, the Stevens' family increasingly bought the Navigation under their sole control. They had effective control by 1890, from which time the slowing declining fortunes of the waterway briefly halted. Between 1890 and 1937 the river increased its trade over that of the 1880s.
A second factor was the established industry on the river. The introduction of roller plant at various corn mills actually made them increase their turnover, and this had an effect on the Navigation. Admittedly Guildford Mill closed in 1892, and Bowers in 1910, but these losses were more than made up for by the increased turnover at Stoke, Newark and Coxes. Other industrial sites continued to help retain trade on the river. These included the oil mill at Thames Lock. The real catastrophe for the Navigation came with the loss of traffic to Stoke, Newark, and Coxes Mills. Newark closed in 1943 following bomb damage (Stidder 1990, 120), and the Navigation never fully recovered. Until 1962 Coxes Mill was carrying 15,000 tons of wheat a year on the river (ibid, 113), but in the later 1960s this fell away, and barge traffic was replaced entirely in July 1969. Stoke Mills had stopped milling in 1956 (op. cit., 87), but they had ceased being a major user of the Navigation before this. Other closures, like Ockham Mill in 1927, had also had their influence.
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It is said that the making of the Navigation required the construction of ten locks, two waste gates, four tumbling bays and twelve and bridges (Manning and Bray 1804-14, iii, lv; Corke 1995, 30). On top of this, there was the excavation of new cuttings to shorten the distance taken by the meanders of the old river. Sources vary how much of this was required. Both Vine (1986, 10) and Manning and Bray (1804-14, iii, lv) state that ten miles were completed in the first nine months, but this may refer to both the digging of the new cuttings and the adaption of sections of the old river. A survey of 1661 states that the new cutting was seven miles, three furlongs and 25 perches in length, and needed 11 locks (GMR 129/57/2). Does this mean that one of the locks or, more likely, one of the waste gates, had not been put in at this date? A copy of another list, the original probably dating from the late 17th century, of lands cut through by the new cutting says that it was over nine and a quarter miles in length (GMR 129/63/9). Do these discrepancies mean that the river was modified with further new cutting after 1661, or are the distances a result of the vagaries of 17th century surveying?
Clearly work must have been necessary dredging parts of the old river as well as making the new cuttings. It is possible that in some cases some minor adjustment to the old channel was needed that was not accounted for as a 'new' cut. The list of lands through which the Navigation went through is worth examining in detail, and whom it is claimed made the arrangements. A document entitled 'Particulars of all the Lands thro which the River Wey in Surry runneth from Guildford to the Thames' (GMR 129/63/9) has been chosen as the basis of this discussion.
Unlike the rest of this report, this section follows the order of the old list moving downstream from Guildford. The Navigation made use of the old channel at least as far as Stoke Bridge. The document being used here claims this is three miles, which seems rather excessive by today's measurement (GMR 129/63/9). Until Woodbridge, the land was owned by Mr Dalmahoy. The agreement on this land was claimed by Tindall and Cressy by articles that they had drawn up with the landowner. In exchange they agreed to pay 4d per load passing through these lands. This dates the document to after 1671, as these agreements were only reached after the second Act.
Next came more of the old channel between Woodbridge and Stoke Bridge. This land had been owned by Sir Nicholas Stoughton, but had been granted to the Navigation by Sir Richard Weston because of a 1000 year lease he had on the land for the sum of £250. The document does not mention the agreement necessary with Sir Nicholas Stoughton over Stoke Mills. Although Weston had held a lease on Stoke Mills and certain lands nearby since 1618 (SRO 94/1), the dispute with Stoughton seems to suggest that he had reasserted his interests here. The distance of two miles given for this stretch is clearly mistaken, as it is less than one mile.
It would seem that the main consequence of the Navigation on this stretch of the Wey Valley was the use of the extensive areas adjoining the river as wharves. It is uncertain exactly when the later Town Wharf at Guildford came into being. The earliest efforts by the Navigation owners to create a wharf at Guildford centred on the ground adjoining the river north of the old friary precinct, on meadowland known as The Leas. This was the nearest piece of open ground north of the town big enough to take the large quantities of timber that needed to be stored for transport on the river. Lady Dirleton petitioned against this wharf site as it was too near to her house, and was being used to store gunpowder that was brought from Chilworth mills for passage on to London. It would appear that this caused the abandonment of the site. The Navigation then settled at Dapdune as its main timber wharf. In 1671 Nicholas Wallys claimed that he had been employed as wharfinger there since 1655 (Carter 1965, 107). The main town wharf, known historically as the Meal Wharf, seems to have been created after 1660 to take commodities for the town itself, such as groceries and coal (Corke 1995, 35).
The main agreement for Dapdune Wharf was an indenture of 17th March 1670 between Thomas Dalmahoy and the Trustees for an annual rent of £20 (GMR 129/83/7). Early plans of the site (GMR 129/29/54; SRO Rocque's map of Surrey, 1768) show that it was little more than a field used for storing timber. The present cottage seems to have been used as a powder house for storage of gunpowder initially. It is not known what other facilities were there before the early 20th-century, when many of the present structures were built. Both maps of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13) and 1823 (GMR X80/7) show the creek there marked as a 'dock', a dwelling house near the site of the Rectory, and another building on the site of Wharf Cottage. Recent archaeology found timbers alongside the creek that might be the remains of an earlier dock (Currie 1995), but there is no conclusive evidence from documents to support this yet. By the time of the first account books, from 1724, the wharf seems to be the site of much commercial activity, with its own administrator.
Early references to the dispute over wharfage nearer the town with Lady Dirleton mention that it was against the interests of the town not to have a wharf nearby, as it seems that already people were unloading goods at 'Stoke' (Corke 1995, 35). It seems that Dickinson was responsible for obtaining the site of the later town wharf to discourage this activity. From the 1660s onwards this became the main unloading place in the town, with its own wharfinger. It is noteworthy that at the time of the first accounts from 1724, this wharfinger, Henry Dean, was responsible for both 'Guildford and Stoke'. This 'Stoke' is clearly not Dapdune, because the same accounts pay a separate wharfinger here called William Newbury. This latter employee is listed as responsible for 'Dapdom and Woodbridge' in the 1720s (GMR 129/7/1, p. 9).
In the 1660s there had been private wharves in the meadows in the vicinity of Woodbridge. One of these was owned by Henry Stoughton, and was called Sandy Fields, a name which has subsequently disappeared (Carter 1965, 106). Another field was hired as a wharf by Henry Goldwyer, a barge-master, and his associates 'at Woodbridge'. In 1664 they claim to have carried nearly 4000 loads of timber from this point to London, and employed John Crockford there as their own wharfinger (ibid, 107). A claim against the Proprietors made in 1671 by Thomas Baldwin locates a wharf just north of Woodbridge, below the large bend there. This states that Baldwin owned a meadow in Stoke 'containing about two acres three rods adjoining the River Wey on the west and north, a meadow belonging to the manor of Poyle in the east, and a close of Richard Stoughton's used for a wharf on the south' (op. cit., 103).
There are further references to support the suggestion that there were still a number of places around Woodbridge where goods were loaded and unloaded well into the 18th century. In April 1725 'Mr Stoughton' was paid £10 for a half-year's rent for 'Woodbridge Wharf'. In 1727 a payment is made for a timber wharf in 'Stoke', which is listed in such a way as to suggest that neither Dapdune or Woodbridge wharves are intended by this entry (ibid, 11). It would appear that the Woodbridge Wharf was abandoned in 1730, as an entry occurs that states that rent was paid until the wharf there was 'Quitted' (op. cit., 20). It is possible that this wharf was little more than a field for storing timber, as for the last half-year the navigation rented it, they let it out to Abraham Eccles 'for the grass' thereon (op. cit., 21). From hereon the wharfinger at Dapdune is no longer listed as being responsible for Woodbridge.
The Guildford wharfinger continued to be listed as being responsible for 'Stoke' well into the second half of the 18th century. No references have been found to explain what this meant. It is hard to imagine that the Guildford wharfinger would be expected to oversee another wharf north of Dapdune, so the 'Stoke' wharf may have been in the southern part of Stoke near Guildford. Does this hint that some form of wharfage was kept near The Leas after Lady Dirleton's complaint? Another possibility is that the Guildford wharfinger may have been responsible for Stoke Lock.
From these scanty early records it would seem that the building of the Navigation transformed the way these fields were used well into the 18th-century. It is possible that following an Act of 1757 to improve the road leading to Dapdune (Vine 1986, 14), the timber storage became increasingly concentrated on this spot, and the more casual storage of goods on meadowland in Stoke died out. Certainly with the coming of the Navigation to Godalming after 1760 would have meant that less timber was being brought into Stoke parish from that region, as it could now be loaded closer to home at Godalming and Stonebridge.
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The next stretch ran from Stoke Bridge to 'New Bridge', a distance over a mile in the old channel, and 60 rods of new channel. This 'New Bridge' presents a number of locational problems. It is mentioned in a number of old lists of bridges in the 18th century, but has disappeared by the 19th century. It was between Bowers Bridge (Burpham Road Bridge) and Broad Oak Bridge (GMR 129/63/10; 129/63/20). It is not mentioned in the survey of 1775 (GMR 129/74). If a bridge did exist here it is possible that it might have been near the site of the later horse bridge below the lock. Later sources, such as the survey of 1826 (GMR 129/107/1), state that there was no bridge below Bowers Lock as the horses had to be taken across the river in a barge, or go back to Broad Oak Bridge to cross over. The evidence of the earlier 18th century seems to suggest that there may have once been a bridge somewhere below Bowers Lock that had fallen into disuse, and was temporarily replaced by a ferry boat.
The position of the new cut on this stretch is ambiguous. It has always been assumed that part of the section between Stoke Bridge and Stoke Lock was artificial, but this may not have been strictly the case. At least part of the 60 rods mentioned here as new cut would be the section cutting across the meander around Burpham Court Farm at Bowers. This latter stretch is about 480m. Even allowing for a far larger rod than the standard of 16.5 feet, all of the 60 rods are taken up by the new Bowers cut, leaving nothing for the Stoke Cut.
This raises an interesting question about the Stoke Cut. The lack of any mention of a new cutting here could perhaps be explained by it already existing as Sir Richard Weston's 'flowing river' in 1651. Therefore it was not accounted as a new cut because it already existed. Contemporary sources suggest this is not a complete answer, particularly as the flowing river is stated to be only eight feet wide (Corke 1995, 10). To make it passable for barges, it would have needed to be widened considerably.
An examination of the river at Stoke suggests that there may have been a channel around the mills between Stoke Bridge and Stoke Lock before Sir Richard Weston's time. This is based on the improbability of building a major mill on the main stream without providing a diversion stream to feed it. It is therefore possible that the present navigation channel is on the line of a channel that pre-dated 1651. It is also possible that the stream that now passes through the site of Stoke Mill originated as a millstream. At St. Cross, Winchester, near the junction with the Itchen Navigation, the mill stream to St. Cross Mill has become the main river, with the original main river deteriorating into little more than a ditch. This process was well advanced by the time More made his map to show impediments to navigation to Winchester in 1618 (Currie forthcoming a)
It may be that Weston's 'flowing river' may have followed the line of the present Navigation from Stoke Mills to Stoke Lock. Alternately, the lock he made at Stoke utilised an older river channel behind it to bring water up to the height he required to carry it along the 'flowing river' from the point that it is first shown on old maps just above Stoke Lock. This does not mean that he did not need to tamper with the old river channel to achieve this. It does suggest, however, that a channel may have already existed on this line that contemporaries in 1651 perceived as being an 'old channel'. Elsewhere, records contradict this idea, and suggest that the section from Stoke Bridge to Stoke Lock was in fact a 'New Cut' (GMR 129/63/7-8). There seems to be some differences here that can not be fully resolved. In conclusion, the most likely solution is that the section here was not recognised as a 'new' cut because it utilised a pre-existing cutting made by Weston in 1618. This section is recorded as being obtained 'by contract with Pitson', with £92 being listed as the money paid for it (GMR 129/63/9).
The landscape along this section was certainly changed by the Navigation. Alterations to the irrigation of the meadows on the west bank from Stoke Lock had already begun through the creation of Sir Richard Weston's 'flowing river' from 1618. This may have altered methods of management of extensive common meadows at Hook Meadow, but it would not have changed things all that much. Obviously the lock at Stoke would have been a new feature, but the meadows around it may have remained much as before, even if their potential for more effective management was altered. The greatest changes would have occurred at Bowers Cut.
The first effect of this new channel would have been to cut Burpham Court Farm off from its access. There is good reason to believe that this was a medieval manor site that may have had origins from at least the time of Domesday. To maintain the link with the farm, a new bridge was needed across the cut. Bridge lists for the Navigation subsequently call this crossing Bower's Bridge. The earliest records of it state that it was a cart bridge (as opposed to a smaller horse- or footbridge), and in 1775 it was still made of timber (GMR 129/63/20; 129/74). This situation seems to have continued until it was rebuilt in 1875 (GMR 129/111/1). The present structure seems to date from a further rebuilding in 1934 (Alan Wardle, pers. comm.), when it was taken over by the Local Council.
This new cutting seems to have created an opportunity for James Pitson to make a wharf here. He may have kept it under his own control until 1662 (Corke 1995, 36). This wharf later became the property of Lord Onslow, and seems to have fallen out of use by the mid-19th century, if not earlier. The survey of 1826 suggests that this is a timber wharf on the east bank between the lock and Bower's Bridge. It is said to have been much out of repair then, indicating it was not much used by 1826 (GMR 129/107/1). The tithe map for Worplesdon of 1838 (SRO) gives an alternative site as the 'old wharf' downstream of Bower's Lock on the south bank about 400m east of the mill. It is possible that the wharf here was little more than a field set aside from time to time for the storage of timber.
One major feature that came into being as a result of the new cut was Bower's Mill. This took water off the new cut above the lock on the east bank, returning it to the navigation about 100m below the lock. The triangular piece of land thus formed was known as 'The Arrowhead'. Strangely there is a second channel cut through the west bank opposite this, also making a similar arrowhead of land. This survives as a clear earthwork today, and is shown on Jago's map as a 'trunk', but it has excited no comment. Was it a relief channel to take excess water away when it wasn't required to go down through the lock or the millway? Or was it for something else, perhaps another mill that was never built?
Exactly when Bower's Mill came into being is not known. Considering the trouble the Navigation had with other mills along its length, this site was decidedly quiet. A cutting to form the arrowhead is shown on Senex's map of 1729 (SRO), but the 'paper mill' is shown downstream by Broad Oak Bridge. This is usually thought to be a mistake. Rocque's map of 1768 shows a paper mill on the present site (SRO), and no commentators have seriously considered that the mill was not always there (cf. Stidder 1990, 50, 60). One is obliged to ask, nevertheless, if Senex's supposed 'mistake', might suggest that the mill had made abortive attempts to set up elsewhere before settling on the present site?
Stidder (ibid, 50) states that the mill at Bowers is first mentioned in 1733. In its later life it abandoned paper milling, becoming a corn mill, then an oil mill, and finally a corn mill again. Navigation records virtually ignore it. One of the few times it appears is in 1890 when Walter Grove installed new grating across the cutting that fed the mill at the same time as new roller plant was put in (GMR 129/111/1). By 1910 milling had ceased, and in 1928 C H J Clayton records that the old cut to the mill had been closed off to prevent any discharge (GMR 1496/1). Both the existing weir cutting at Bowers, and the one south-east of Broad Oak Bridge, seem to have been created in their present form as part of flood relief works in the 20th century.
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The next section listed runs on the lands of Sir Richard Weston from New Bridge to Sutton Broad Mead. This is given as one mile of new channel obtained 'by contract with Pitson'. There is a note written in a later hand equating Broad Oak Bridge with New Bridge, but this is incorrect. 18th-century bridge lists record New Bridge and Broad Oak Bridge as entirely separate features (see GMR 129/63/10, 129/63/20).
The next stretch runs from Sutton Broad Mead up to Triggs Lock, where the old channel rejoins the Navigation. Again this is land of Sir Richard Weston obtained by contract with Pitson. No fee is noted, so it might be assumed that Weston did not charge the Navigation for cuttings that extended through his own lands. From Triggs Lock the Navigation follows one mile of the 'old channel' as far as 'Worsfields Floodgate'. Passage through these lands was 'by Act 51 & constant usage'. Presumably because it followed an old channel no charges were recorded.
These stretches ran through the extensive meadowlands that Sir Richard Weston had built the 'flowing river' to feed. They would almost certainly have benefited from the alterations in the drainage of the area after 1618. One would assume that as Weston probably supervised the cutting of the Navigation channels through these lands, he would have ensured that no serious disadvantages were suffered as a consequence.
At least two new bridges would have been required from an early date, at Send Church Bridge and Wareham's Bridge. Neither were major thoroughfares, but the Navigation does seem to have cut much of Sutton manor's meadowland off from its farms. Both bridges had come into being by the first half of the 18th century, and it is possible that they were built fairly soon after the original construction work.
At the top of the cutting was Trigg's Lock. A field on its north-west side was used as a wharf. Like Bower's Wharf, it does not seem to have been a major loading place, but its siting seems to have remained consistent throughout the time it is recorded (1704-1848). One might assume that it existed from the earliest days of the Navigation, but, as the 19th century progressed there became less call to use it. It is not listed on the sale catalogue of 1888 (GMR 129/141/4).
There was also a horse bridge at Trigg's Lock, with two more similar crossing points between Trigg's and Worsfold Gates. These were called Chamberland and Pure Mead Bridges. They were sometimes referred to as Portmore and Langton Bridges, after the two proprietors of the Navigation in the 18th century (GMR 129/107/1).
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There then followed a series of new cuttings until the old river rejoined the navigation below Papercourt Lock near Newark Priory. These are given as three separate stretches, on account of the number of different agreements that had to be reached to pass through here. The first is a stretch of 40 rods from the 'Worsfields floodgate' to 'Worsfield Bridge and Sendheath'. The bridge is probably that which is now known as Cartbridge, although a later hand marks this as Tanners Bridge. This latter bridge is Ashburton Bridge, just above Cartbridge, and not the Tanner's Bridge below Highbridge on Send Heath. It is recorded that this land is held by contract, the deeds being with Frobank and Impey, who for a time in the 17th century seem to have managed the Navigation.
The next stretch is given as the lands of Lord Montague from 'Worsfield Bridge to Dr Maybank & Sendheath'. The later hand writing in the margin states that this is to Highbridge. There seems no reason to doubt this interpretation. For this relatively short stretch of half a mile, the Navigation had to enter into 'Articles wth Ld Mont [Lord Montague]', and pay 2 1/2d per load [ton] for passage.
The last stretch in this particular new cut seems to have run from near Highbridge to below Papercourt Lock, a given distance of one mile. This was obtained by contracts with several copyholders and articles with Lord Montague. The cost is given as £30 (GMR 129/63/9).
The Navigation here took a more easterly line along the edge of Send Heath. It may have caused some alteration to the management of the great sweep of Common Meadow known as Broad Mead south of the old river, but generally changes to the landscape were modest here. Two important changes did come about, but it is not known how soon after construction these occurred. These were the siting of wharves at Cartbridge and Send Heath, and the setting up of tanneries at Ashburton and Tanner's Bridge, near Papercourt Farm.
It is not known when the wharves at Send first came into being. It was possibly early on as the first account book (from 1724) mentions the wharf on Send Heath as one of the four most important wharves on the river (with Guildford, Dapdune and New Haw). Originally it appears that the wharf was sited on common ground on the south side of the river at Highbridge, about 600m downstream from Cartbridge. In 1724 it had a regularly wharfinger paid by the Navigation (GMR 129/7/1). It would seem that this wharf rapidly declined in importance in the later 18th century. After the enclosure of the heath, difficulties arose in that the Navigation did not own the land on which the wharf was sited. In a letter of March 1804, Stephen Chandler, the Navigation's Master Carpenter, wrote to George Stubbs to explain the problem. He stated that the Proprietors had no land on that side of the river, it being on the opposite side to the towpath, nor did they have any buildings thereon. He noted that 'the Warehouse at Sendheath is about Quarter of a Mile from the Loading place and is on the Horsepath side, the Commissioners have stumpt out the Wharf and loading place quite to the waters edge therefor they mean the Proprietors have no right to a wharf without purching Sutton Green' (GMR 129/27/14).
From the way the 'warehouse' had become detached from the wharf site, it would seem that this problem had been in the air for some time, forcing the Navigation to begin moving its operations upstream. The map of 1782 shows the 'Woking warehouse' on the site of the present Cartbridge Wharf, alongside the 'Upper Loading Place'. This may have been situated there to serve Woking Mill and the old town, it being at the nearest convenient spot for access to those places. The old Sendheath wharf is marked here as the 'Lower Landing Place'. A few hundred yards upstream on the same side was a building called 'Log House' (GMR 129/143/13). The map of 1790 seems to show a similar situation, with a warehouse on one side of the river, and the main wharf on the other (SAS Library Collections).
Jago's map of 1823 places the 'Timber Wharf and Loading Place' squarely on the west side of High Bridge. Further upstream it notes 'Scite of Old Carpenters Shop called Log House', with a building on the site of Cartbridge Wharf owned by the Navigation, but no other designations (GMR X80/5). The Old Carpenters Shop seems to have disappeared between 1782 and 1804. A wharf was still shown there on the tithe map in 1844, but it is possible that it was little used by this time (SRO Tithe map & award, Send & Ripley).
The tanneries mentioned above on both sides of the river do not seem to have come into being until the 18th centurty. There is no record of the tannery at Ashburton before the later 18th century (GMR 129/63/8; 129/143/13). The other tanyard near Prews Farm was thought to have come into existence in the early 18th century. This was a much larger establishment, and continued to operate into the present century.
The building of this section of the Navigation seems to have required the making of five bridges. These were at Ashburtons, Cartbridge, Highbridge, Tanners Bridge, and Papercourt Lock. The latter was a horse bridge that would probably have come into being with the building of the lock. Of the others, only Cartbridge or Sendheath Bridge may have been built soon after the Navigation was cut. The other three merely take footpaths over the cutting. The crossings here may not have come into being until slightly later, although they all seem to have existed by the 18th century.
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Next the Navigation passed through two stretches of the old channel, for which passage was granted by the Act of 1651 and 'constant usage'. The first is a quarter mile stretch through the lands of William Zouche in Woking Broad Mead 'to a Watercourse yt. leads to Ocham Mill'. The culvert for this is currently just above Newark Bridge, and this is probably the approximate point where the old millstream to Ockham was taken off the old river. The Navigation has been much altered here in the 1930s by the River Wey Improvement Scheme, and so it is not possible to relate what happened here exactly to the old river landscape.
The next stretch is one of 15 rods from the start of the Ockham millstream to Allen's Mill through land of Lord Montague. Allen's Mill is an old name for Newark Mill, when it was named after the miller of 1671, Henry Allen (Carter 1965, 101). This information is not strictly true. The Navigation did not pass through Newark Mill, but is taken in a new cutting through Newark Lock. Neither is it likely that Newark Mill is on the old channel, but an artificial millstream. The river is highly complex here, and there are at least two other old channels besides the millstream and the Navigation cutting. These are now known as the 'eel trap stream' and the 'abbey stream'. Both may have been interfered with by man. They all leave the old river at the same approximate position as the beginning of the Ockham millstream.
If it is accepted that the eel trap on the Eel Trap Stream has a medieval predecessor, as has been suggested (Oliver & Bowerman 1977), then this would suggest that this cutting is artificial also. The meandering of the Abbey Stream seems to be the closest to a natural channel, and it is possible that this was the original old river. If so, the cutting made for Newark Lock is the third and last artificial channel made here (four if one also counts the Ockham millstream). The Navigation cut for Newark Lock was given as 70 rods in length, and also taken out of the lands of Lord Montague.
There then follows a half mile stretch following the old river channel from the end of the Newark cutting to 'Wallsham Bay'. The right to passage here was again by the 1651 Act and constant usage.
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The stretch from Walsham to Pyrford Lock is given as half a mile in length, and obtained by deed to Pitson for £160 (GMR 129/63/9). According to the later hand writing in the notes, this land was had from Denzil Onslow, but was never paid for. The cutting here is entirely artificial, being above, and slightly to the west of the old river. At Pigeon House Bridge the old River meanders off to the east towards Wisley, before veering east again towards Byfleet Mill. It does not come close to the Navigation again until Weybridge Bridge is reached. The Walsham to Pyrford cutting was the beginning of the longest artificial cut made for the Navigation.
Walsham Bay was one of the four original tumbling bays made on the river. These were usually at the head of major new cuts. In 1671 Henry Allen, the Newark miller, claimed £33 'for labour in taking care of the tumbling-bay called Walsham Bay' (Carter 1965, 101). The new river cut very close to Pyrford Place, an old moated site formerly of some importance. This status was still retained in the early years of the Navigation, as is indicated by John Evelyn's visit in 1681, but soon after this it declined into little more than a local farmstead. There is a suggestion that the distinctive garden summer house and walls were made soon after the Navigation was built. It would seem that a walkway along the wall was intended to look out over the river, as were the windows of the summer house.
It must be asked whether the duck decoy in Townslow Meadow mentioned by Evelyn came into being as a result of the Navigation. From the later 18th century this feature is fed by a 'trunk' from the Navigation (GMR 129/49/3), but it is possible that it could have been fed by the old river at one time.
It is not absolutely clear when the wharf at Pigeon House Bridge came into being. The bridge itself seems to have been rebuilt in brick in 1763 (GMR 129/79/1). Senex's map seems to show a bridge here in 1729 (SRO). The wharf may have been of importance early on. The earliest account book lists a lock-keeper at Pyrford, before there is any mention of one at Walsham (GMR 129/7/1). There is no lock-house at Pyrford, but the map of 1782 shows a 'warehouse' and a loading place at Pigeon House Bridge. Other early maps also show a cottage here, and it may be that the earliest lock-keepers on this stretch were stationed at Pyrford Wharf, and only migrated to Walsham in the later 18th century.
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The Wreath was a large ditch running parallel to the east bank of the Navigation from a point where the water from the old 'Shire Pond' ran under the new river. This was later the approximate point where the Basingstoke Canal junction occurred. The list of lands through which the navigation runs gives this stretch in three sections. They do not make much sense now, but they were clearly based on the divisions of landowners that they obliged to reach agreement with in the 1650s.
The first stretch is half a mile long and runs from Pyrford Lock to 'Martin Bridge'. It was obtained by contract with Pitson. The later hand writing in the margins states that Martin Bridge is 'now' Harris' Bridge. This was one of the many names that Dodd's Bridge has had. Others include Wilsford and Brishetts. There was once a farm on west bank of the bend above Dodd's Bridge called Brishetts. This was clearly an important farmstead, as it is shown on nearly all the old maps of the area. Farms that have subsequently proved larger establishments that Brishetts are never included as regularly as this farm.
A claim made against the Navigation in 1671 by John Sayle of Pyrford records the flooding of a meadow called 'Brushetts', and states that the promised bridge here has not been made (Carter 1965, 106). This suggests that Dodd's Bridge may not have been built until after this date. However, the reference to the bridge in the above list of lands cut through indicates that it had come into being soon after 1671.
The Navigation may have played some part in causing the decline of this farm. The new river seems to cut through its lands in such a way that its former drainage pattern was disrupted. If one looks on maps one can see how old drains on the west bank near the above-mentioned bend continue over the other side of the river. These seem to be taken under the Navigation, but it is unlikely they were ever as efficient as in the times before 1651. It is possible that the wet alder woods now on the east bank of the river opposite the site of Brishetts Farm have come about because of the deteriorating quality of the meadow land there. This area seems to have been pasture at the time of the tithe map in 1844 (SRO Tithe map & award for Pyrford). Brishetts Farm was up for sale in 1905 and again in 1912 (GMR 129/142/19; 129/142/23). It disappeared soon after, but it would seem that its importance was in decline for many years before this. Dodd's Bridge itself was rebuilt in 1768 in brick (GMR 129/79/1), but an earlier bridge is shown here in 1729.
The next stretch listed is from Martin's (Dodd's) Bridge to Staple Heath. This was half a mile long, and the lands were obtained through agreement with 'certain copyholders' that were written into the Court Rolls for Byfleet manor. It appears that £18-11s (?) was paid for this.
These lands made up a modest copyhold farm called Stringhams on the east bank, and the farm estate that later became West Hall on the west bank. The latter bank was much ornamented in the later 18th century to form a minor landscape park right up to Old Wood on the southern boundary of Staple Heath, otherwise known as New Haw Heath. The farm on the site of Stringhams stood just below the later Parvis Wharf, and is now gone. It is likely that this suffered a similar deterioration to the quality of its lands through poor drainage brought about by the Navigation that seems to have occurred at Brishetts.
If lands on the east bank deteriorated, those on the west bank improved. West Hall is now an ugly red brick building used for offices, but its ornamental grounds are amongst the finest of their kind that the Navigation passes through. A fine avenue of tree called the 'Long Walk' runs parallel with the river from the Hall down to the track that crosses Dodd's Bridge, a distance of about 550m. North of the Hall are ornamental ponds, old walks and an ice house in the suspected ancient woodland of Old Wood. When all this came into being is not known, but Rocque's map of 1768 shows a substantial house with extensive ornamented grounds (SRO). Unfortunately Senex's map of 1729 shows nothing, and one suspects that the major landscaping here may have come into being between these two dates.
An agreement in the manorial court rolls from the 1650s indicates that Richard Royden was the owner of this land at the time of the construction. In return for cutting through his land, he was granted a right of way from 'Westhouse' along the bank to the common, the right to use the river to float his meadows, and a bridge so that he could get his 'team' from his house across the river to lands opposite (Corke 1995, 23-24). The bridge here is probably Murray's Bridge, which has always been a private bridge serving West Hall. Whether the mentioned 'Westhouse' is on the site of West Hall, or the adjoining Home Farm, is not known, but this reference clearly shows a building existed here at this time. Another list of lands cut through by the canal mentions 'Royden's land' and states that it 'was coppice' (GMR 129/63/7). This seems to refer to Old Wood, which may have still been an old copse at this time, and was not converted into ornamental woodland until later.
The final section in this stretch is given as an eight of a mile extending from the common edge at Parvis Bridge to the 'Wreath'. This suggests that the Wreath ditch may have once extended further south than the current Basingstoke Canal junction than it does now. This land was obtained through a patent from 'his majesty', a possible reference to Radcliffe's patent in the 1660s. No doubt the land was originally granted by Parliament, but on the Restoration this would have needed to be confirmed again, as the actions of Parliament during the Commonwealth would have been considered of dubious legality.
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The next stretch on the list covers the bulk of Staple or New Haw Heath that the Navigation passed through in the 1650s. It is listed as the lands 'of Sir Robt Parkhurst & Ham Gates', and was two and an eight miles plus six rods in length. The lands had been obtained from three sources, by contract with Pitson for the 'Gates', a Patent from the crown, and a deed from Sir Robert Parkhurst (GMR 129/63/9). It is not listed what this had cost.
These lands were perhaps the poorest through which the river passed. They have since become heavily built over by suburban development, thus masking the land's original appearance. From Parvis Bridge all the way to New Haw Lock, there was unenclosed common on both sides of the river. Rocque's map of 1768 depicts this best, and shows a series of poor common-edge farms around the ragged boundaries of the common. This uneven boundary was probably the result of piecemeal enclosure extending back centuries. Land hunger in the area would have been at its maximum c. 1300, and many of the enclosures would have been formed at this time. Just to the north-west of New Haw Lock was a moated farmstead with the name 'Moated Farm', that is shown on maps from Seller's map of 1690 onwards (SRO). Just under a kilometre further north, west of Coxes Mill is another old farmstead called Crockford Bridge Farm. Both these farms seem to have medieval origins.
From New Haw to the bend above Coxes Mill Pool there was a further strip of common on the west bank of the Navigation. This followed the road from New Haw northwards to Crockford Bridge. Most of the other old roads in this area can be seen through the agency of 18th-century county maps to have followed common land wherever possible. On the east bank below Coxes Lock were enclosures butting against the new cutting. The farm shown on Rocque's map of 1768 just below the large bend had degenerated into an isolated cottage by 1872 called Brickwall Cottage (OS 6" map, 1872 ed., sheet xi). This, like the gradual disappearance of the farms in Byfleet near Dodd's Bridge, is probably a sign of the poor economic base for farming that existed in the region.
Beyond Coxes Lock there were further poor common edge farmstead interspersed between fragments of old surviving common, such as Ham Moor, on the east bank of the river at Black Boy Bridge. It was possibly this bridge that was meant by 'Hammore Bridge'.
One of the most immediate changes to this area was the siting of what was then one of the most important wharves on the Navigation at New Haw. This led to a new central place being established for the local economy, the new bridge over the new cut here reinforcing this by directing traffic past the wharf. The wharf was one of considerable contention in the early days of the Navigation, because it had been set up and controlled by Pitson, who then proceeded to mortgage it to raise more money (SAS library PF/GFD/266, p. 11). It was reported that Pitson had built a wharf house here from bricks taken from the ruins of Oatlands Palace (Corke 1995, 37). This would have been one of the earliest purpose-built buildings to have been put up along the Navigation. The earliest direct account, however, dates from 1674 when payment is made for gravel and other material 'to mound New Haw Wharf & the way to it' (GMR 129/62/9).
The wharf was on the west bank below the new bridge, and covered about four acres in 1823. By 1724 it is recorded in the accounts in such a way that it would seem that it was a considerable establishment. A number of buildings seem to have been put up on it from an early date. In February 1728 Thomas Edwards was paid 4/8d for 'Smiths Work for New Haw Wharfhouse'. Around this time, Henry Field was paid £12-10-0d for bricklayer's work at New Haw, and William Hammerton received a salary of £20 per annum to be wharfinger there (GMR 129/7/1, pp. 9-10). In 1730 Hammerton is paid £1-16-6d for rebuilding the oven at New Haw, and for beer given to carters 'to encourage the Trade' (ibid, p. 17). In the 1730s it would seem that the wharf and its house were rented out to William Whitmore for £5 per year. In 1733 Whitmore was paid for repairing the wharfhouse (op. cit., pp. 23, 29). Soon after this the wharf and house were rented to George Chapman for £23-15s-0d (op. cit., p. 31). By 1823 there are two lime kilns shown on the site (GMR X80/1). It is not known if this activity had occurred from an early date at this wharf, or whether they were part of an enterprise set up by Alex Raby c. 1800 (GMR 129/48/5).
It is not known if there was a community at New Haw before 1651, but by the time of the first detailed maps in the 18th century, a hamlet had built itself up on the west bank of the Navigation on the former common lands. It is highly likely that the new lock, bridge and wharf here was the catalyst to this settlement growth.
Initially there were few other changes to this rather poor landscape, beyond the creation of Black Boy Bridge at Ham Moor. Later in the 18th century the Navigation continued to be instrumental in bringing further activity into the area. A large iron mill was established at Coxes Lock from 1776 (Stidder 1990, 112). A saw mill was established on Ham Moor in 1843-44, with a wharf above Black Boy Bridge to serve this (GMR 129/141/4). Like most of the former commons south of the Thames, the area became popular for middle-class suburban housing in the 19th century. This began as soon as the Enclosure Acts for the area had been passed in the first decade of the 19th century (SRO QS 6/4/9; QS 6/4/19). The west bank of the 'Long Reach' between New Haw and the Basingstoke Canal junction had already started to be lined with detached houses before the Acts were passed. One of the attractions of the private Dartnell housing estate built in the late 19th century above the Basingstoke Canal junction was that it had its own private resident's boat house (Wakeford 1995, 5).
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This short stretch is given as being 90 rods in length. This is about 500 yards, which is slightly longer than the present distance from Black Boy Bridge (which is assumed to be on the approximate site of Ham More Bridge) to Weybridge Lock. Again, it has to be assumed that Weybridge Lock is the approximate end of this stretch. It has been noticed before how the lengths of some of these stretches differ from modern expectation. It is possible that 'Ham More Bridge' is not in exactly the same place as Black Boy Bridge, the latter replacing the former at some date in the 18th century. Black Boy Bridge is not mentioned by that name until 1823 (GMR X80/2). Before this it seems to be known as Stile's Bridge. It seems to be shown in its present position on Senex's map of 1729 (SRO), but this is not a plan whose detail can be relied upon entirely. It is quite possible that at the date when the list of lands passed through by the Navigation was compiled Black Boy Bridge did not exist, but its function was performed by another bridge elsewhere.
The lands through which the Navigation passed here are recorded as belonging to 'Sir Geo: Aiscough bot of Luke Elmore', and obtained by contract with Pitson for £12 (GMR 129/63/9).
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This stretch seems to be given as a quarter of a mile in length. Again this makes little sense on the modern map. The real distance from Weybridge Lock to the old mouth of the Thames is 900m. The distance from Bulldog Weir to the Thames is nearer to a quarter of a mile, being about 380m. The stretch is given as three quarters of its length in the old channel, and quarter of its length in a new cut. This is very approximately the percentage of each channel from Weybridge Lock to the Thames, but the overall distance is not correct. It is possible that there has been a mistake here, either in the reading of the document, or the distances given. It is very likely that the section is from Weybridge 'Long Bridge' just above the lock to the Thames because this land is held in one ownership, and is well recorded throughout the history of the Navigation.
This is the Ham Haw estate, leased to the earls of Portmore from the 1730s from the Dean and Canons of Windsor Chapel. Any agreement to make a new cutting here in the 1650s would have to have been with the latter party. It is recorded that this agreement was made by Pitson for £50 (GMR 129/63/9). The old channel of the river probably ran from the bridge at Weybridge up to Bull Dogs Weir. From the weir up to just below Thames Lock was the new cut.
Initially this new cut ended a few metres the other side of Thames Lock. The 'ayot' on which the Weybridge Boat Club now have mooring was a sandbank that built up in the river here after the creation of the Navigation. The Navigation was probably the direct cause of this island forming, because of the change in current caused by the new cut. To begin with an island formed. This is shown on a plan of the estate dated 1732 (SRO 180/2a). The island gradually became larger until a long tongue of land was formed that eventually linked up to the mainland, extending the Navigation by a further 200m to the east. In 1823, the 'ayot' was still a large island (GMR X80/2), but by 1872 it had become linked to the mainland (OS 6" map, sheet xi). The silt in the mouth of the Navigation was obviously a problem. A letter of 1795 complains that the mouth of the river has become blocked causing delays to barge traffic (GMR 129/43/8). This must have been a recurring problem. Some of the first entries in the earliest account books records relatively high expenditure at regular intervals 'scouring' sand from 'below Thames Lock' (GMR 129/7/1). It would seem from this that the wooden paddle gate at the present entrance to the Navigation is a relatively late feature.
There had been a wharf at Ham Haw on the Thames just above the Navigation entrance since the medieval period (Cornford 1911, 479; Price 1996). The 1732 estate plan shows a wide 'way' called 'The Wharf Way' leading from the road on the south side of the estate out on to the Thames. There was a cottage, yard and garden there. Next to the wharf was a field called 'Home Field alias Timber Field' (SRO 180/2a). Exactly when the wharf went out of use is not known, but many of its functions, as a collecting point for produce from the manors south of the Thames, must have been superseded with the coming of the Navigation by loading facilities along the latter's banks. The cottage was later converted into a fishing hut to serve the Portmore family. By 1823 this is noted as being 'in ruins' (GMR X80/2).
The new cut also provided the opportunity to site a new mill on it. A paper mill appears to have been set up just above Thames Lock in 1691 by Robert Douglas (Stidder 1990, 10). Like many of the Navigation mills, it changed its product on a number of occasions. It later produced iron, corn and finally oil from crushed seed. Also like many of the other mills on the Navigation, it caused the Proprietors problems, and had long periods when it lay neglected. Whilst disused peace reigned at Thames Lock, and the period between 1816 and 1841 when the mill did not operate must have been a quiet time. It proved to be a lull before the storm. The acquisition of the mill by Flocktons in July 1841 led to a long and acrimonious dispute that was only partly resolved in 1847 (GMR 129/95/1-24; 129/10/81). Until the mill finally shut down in 1963 relations were, at best, one of mutual toleration.
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The Godalming Navigation was begun in 1760 following an Act of Parliament for its creation. By 1764 the river was opened to barges for the four and a half miles between Guildford and Godalming. Doubtless many lessons had been learnt from the creation and operation of the Wey Navigation as the cost of construction only exceeded expectations by £850 (Vine 1986, 17).
The artificial reaches were required between St. Catherine's Hill and Riff-Raff Weir (700m), Peasmarsh to Unstead (Tiltham's) Weir (1150m), and around Catteshall Mill (550m). There was also a very minor cut of about 150m just above Broadford Bridge. The total length was not considerable when compared with the lengths of some of the cuts made on the Wey Navigation. All bar Catteshall Mill cutting were made to take out the worst natural meanders in the river. Unlike the Wey Navigation, which has an extensive archive of documents recording many aspects of its operation, the records of the Godalming Navigation are scanty by comparison. In consequence, it is much harder to know exactly how the landscape of the river valley was altered by this undertaking.
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One of the first repercussions was the extension of local wharfage in and around Guildford following the widening of the main bridge over the river. It is possible that wharves existed all along the river frontage even before this occurrence, but the opportunity was taken to greatly expand the amount of wharfage above the old bridge. The tithe map for St Nicholas of 1841 records that the Wey and Arun Commissioners had a wharf and storage depot for coal, stone and slate on the west bank of the river just below the parish church (SRO Tithe map & award, St. Nicholas parish, Guildford).
In 1765 soon after the completion of the new Navigation the owners of the chalk quarries to the south of the town had erected a lime wharf where the Guildford Rowing Club now stands (GMR 142/1/1, 162). About the same time another wharf must have been created to serve the chalk pit under St. Catherine's Hill, as the owners later claimed to have had an arrangement to have a wharf there since 1764 (GMR 129/46/1). Both sites took advantage of the new link with London to start producing lime for the London market. There followed from this increased activity in the small hamlet at Ferry Lane, which seems to have developed into a minor industrial settlement for a short while until the decline in the lime trade in the 1820s. There are also records of a regular barge owned by 'Mr East' going roughly once or twice a week to Godalming with chalk (GMR 142/2/1).
The obvious result of the new Navigation here was an extension of the industrial activity along the river to the south of Guildford. Although chalk quarries existed here before 1760, the new conditions led to their output being expanded considerably. What was once a purely rural hinterland now developed into a semi-industrialised area for a while. With the decline of the chalk industry after 1820, the area along the west bank became increasingly popular for middle-class suburban expansion.
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This section passed through an area of extensive low-lying meadowland. How this affected the landscape at the time is not known. Doubtless there were meadows that may have benefited whilst others did not. C H J Clayton, writing near the end of the Navigation's commercial life, seems to have felt that the meadows around Shalford and Artington suffered from its presence.
He states that the meadows around St Catherine's Lock were frequently flooded because of the poor maintenance of the artificial cutting here (GMR 1496/1, appendix). Although he states that these meadows were once valuable for pasture and hay, it is difficult to believe that the problems that he enumerates would not have occurred even in the heyday of the Navigation's use. For instance, he states that the sluice gates at Millmead are not open soon enough in times of heavy rain. It is possible that this was always a problem that caused occasional flooding upstream.
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This was a 'natural' section apart from a short section cutting off a sharp bend above Broadford. The Navigation must have had some impact on this section, because it was here than one of the main wharves on the river was sited at Stonebridge.
This wharf was quite a considerable storage area, not just for piles of timber, but for gunpowder from the nearby Chilworth Mills. A small industrial hamlet grew up nearby at Broadford, and plans to built a new bridge here were put forward in August 1764. In the end the bridge was not built until the 1793 (GMR 142/1/2, 78, 153). With the opening of the Wey and Arun Canal in 1816, Stonebridge became even more important, standing as it was on the junction of the two waterways. Unfortunately the Wey and Arun never met its expectations, and by the 1850s its small trade had been taken over by the railways. Three rail bridges crossed the River Wey on this section in the later 19th century, all having a considerable effect on the landscape introducing a semi-industralised feel to the otherwise rural communities that once existed here.
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The building of Unstead Bridge in 1762 was one of the first consequences of the building of this artificial section. The records seem to suggest an earlier bridge may have existed over a small stream here because the records state that the bridge was to be widened and repaired (GMR 142/1/1, p. 47).
The opportunity to power a mill from this new section was soon brought up, probably on account of the fact that for much of its length it cut through an old common known as Peasmarsh Common. In 1777 Lord Onslow made his objections to this proposal, and the mill was not built (GMR 142/1/, p. 404). The common landscape remained unmarked by new industry until the 1830s, when a mill was finally built, with a long mill leat running parallel to east bank of the Navigation. These then were the major consequences of the new cutting here. After the closure of Unstead Mills in 1906 (Stidder 1990, 88), the site continued in industrial use. A small industrial estate continued on the site after the demolition of the mill buildings in the 1950s, although this is largely derelict at present.
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Despite the new cutting around Catteshall Mill, the Navigation had only localised impact on the river valley of this section. Perhaps the largest consequence would have been the building of Godalming Wharf just outside the town.
This was a much larger wharf than its counterpart in Guildford. A map produced in 1900 (GMR 142/8/5) shows over 20 individual buildings on the site. Approaching Godalming along the largely straight stretch from opposite Wyatt's Almshouses would have given a clear view of this new development at the end of the river valley before it turned off westward towards Westbrook Mill. Development along Meadrow, as the Portsmouth Turnpike Road was known, would not have changed drastically as a result of the arrival of barge traffic. Most of the older houses along this road were already present before 1760, although a few, like Tiltham's House, were built in the early 19th century backing onto the river.
There was a large tanyard here for a while in the first half of the 19th century, with a temporary timber wharf just below it. Both are shown on the tithe map for Godalming of 1844 (SRO Tithe map & award for Godalming). The tanyard was still in use in 1865, but how long it survived after that date is not known. It is unlikely that these two features, probably deliberately located here to take advantage of the easy loading on to barges available, survived long after the coming of major rail routes to the town in the 1840s and 1850s.
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Little is directly known about how the river channel was constructed from the records. There are retrospective accounts of the materials used. The maintenance of the channel was a continuous task that may have been carried out by 'lurgymen', who seem to have worked in pairs from boats called 'lurgyboats'. These may have been an early form of dredging boat. Other methods of keeping the channel clean of silt seems to have included a horse dragging a box across the channel. In the 1820s considerable work seems to have been done to try to deepen the channel to get round the reliance the Navigation had on the good will of the local millers to maintain a sufficient head of water to allow barges to pass.
There is no specific document that records how the Navigation channel was made. Corke (1995, 24-27) has suggested that it was probably dug dry as this would have been easiest, but this may not have always been possible. There is a list of around 86 names of people paid for work construction the Navigation before August 1654. A number of these workers are employed on 'the earth barge', suggesting that at least some of the work was done from a wet canal (GMR 129/45/33). In all £956-11-10d was still owed in wages at this date, the majority of the men paid simply for 'digging'. Others are paid for iron work, sawing timber, 'levelling part of the river bank' and 'turfing' the bank. These fees were merely those outstanding, and as they are given in lump sums without a record of the days worked, it is not possible to tell what was paid for any particular rate.
Once constructed, the upkeep of the Navigation channel was a constant battle against the elements and nature. The work repairing leaks and breaches, maintaining the towpath, and keeping the channel itself free from silt were the main tasks. 'Scouring' is probably the commonest task listed in the records. Occasionally it is called 'ploughing', which gives an idea of how the work was actually carried out. It would appear that much of the work was done by horses pulling some sort of bucket across the river. John Wells was paid 30 shillings in 1726 for two day's work with 'his horse and Tackle... drawing Sand out of the River Thames at the mouth of the River Wey' (GMR 129/7/1). There were also 'lurgy boats' on the river, and it is possible that they may have had something to do with scouring the channel.
A prelude to the operation of scouring seems to have been running the level of the river down as low as possible. In 1764 the miller at Stoke was paid £2-19-6d for 'drawing down the Water to Scour Dapdon Dock' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 6). Dredging Dapdune Dock was a regular occurrence. In April 1726 Henry Newbury was paid to scour it. In the following April, he was paid four guineas for 'one years scouring Dapdon Dock' (GMR 129/7/1, p. 10), so it would appear that this activity needed to be carried out constantly to prevent the place from silting up.
The earliest account books state that it was the responsibility of the various wharfingers to ensure that the banks were kept in repair and the channel scoured. For example in 1728 William Skeet is listed as being stationed at Pyrford, probably meaning Pigeon House Wharf. His duties included 'scouring and keeping the banks from Newark stream to Wilsford [aka Dodd's] Bridge' (ibid, p. 15). Likewise the wharfinger at Sendheath seemed to be responsible for the locks, bank and channel from Worsfold up to 'Newark stream', which was just the other side of Newark Lock. The New Haw lock-keeper and wharfinger is often recorded as being responsible for all the locks up as far as Thames, presumably back up to Wilsford Bridge. Quite who was responsible for the rest of the river is uncertain, but from 1764 there seems to be a certain amount of reorganisation of the duties of the various employees. From this date onwards, it seems that the control of the river is taken away from the wharfingers, and passed on to permanent lock-keepers, although the process may have started before this date.
It may be that the appearance of regular payments from this time onwards to the 'lurgymen' may be related to this reorganisation. Although lurgy boats may have helped in scouring the channels before 1764, it is possible that after this date, they took some of this responsibility away from the lock-keepers. It should be noted that by the end of the 18th century, lock-keepers seem only to be responsible for reporting repairs that are needed, not for doing them (GMR 129/26/33).
Nobody seems to be able to answer the question on how the lurgy boats operated. In the summer of 1764 there are four lurgymen. Two are known as 'upper lurgymen' and two 'lower lurgymen'. The wages they are paid are confusing. Ben Johnson, lower lurgyman, is paid £5-5-0d in the quarter ending June 24th 1764, but the other lower lurgyman, William Turner, is only paid £2-13-4d. William Scott, an upper lurgyman, is paid £5-4-0d, but John Christmas, the other upper lurgyman only got £2-9-4d (GMR 129/7/2, p. 4). Perhaps one is the foreman, the other his underling; the upper men working the upper river, and the lower men the lower river. Alternatively, perhaps it refers to their position on the boat, assuming, of course, that there are two men to each lurgy boat? One would assume that if they were employed mainly on scouring, one man would be needed to steady the boat whilst the other worked the dragline. In 1764 the accounts record that a guinea is paid 'for a line for a Lurgy Boat' (ibid, p. 5).
The most detailed account for scouring occurs between 1827 and 1830 when the Proprietors proposed deepening the river by 18 inches to try to get out of paying the millers to close their sluices every time a barge passed. In 1827 over £50 was spent scouring, in 1828 over £40, in 1829 over £54, and in 1830 over £66 (GMR 129/86/5). Ultimately, all this work does not seem to have solved the problem of the mills.
Another item of regular expenditure was 'balleting' and 'camshotting' the banks. This seems to have involved building timber revetments to the banks to prevent erosion from the wash of the barges. From the remains that have been dug out of the banks at various places, this was down by driving piles in front of the banks, placing planks behind the piles, and backfilling the area behind with rammed clay and chalk. Whole tree trunks seem to have been placed through the banks, and tied into the piles to reinforce the timber framework. Similar works seem to be recommended in various post-medieval treatises related to building dams for fishponds (Currie 1990, 66-67).
Payments are frequently made for timber and chalk to repair the banks. The water-holding qualities of the later, if rammed, were well-known in the past. In 1765 much money is spent rebuilding the banks in the area around New Haw, particularly along the section known as the Long Reach. John Smith and partners are paid £7-15-0d for 62 rods of 'banking above Newhaw Lock on byfleet side at 2/6d a rod' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 19). In October the same year Thomas Hancher is paid £4-10-9d for scouring 363 rods 'of ditching on ye back of ye Banks above Newhaw Lock on Chertsey side' (ibid, p. 31).
There are various records for using timber during repairs to the banks throughout the accounts, as well as payments to various people for catching and killing rats and moles (GMR 129/7/1-9, passim). The latter caused leaks in the banks by their burrowing activities.
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The locks are probably the most obvious features of the present Navigation. The evidence suggests that they were originally turf-sided and constructed in timber. The tradition that certain locks were construct entirely of masonry in the 17th century is questioned. The conversion from timber locks seems to have been undertaken in a piecemeal manner. After 1760 there appears to have been some reconstruction of locks. The two best recorded rebuildings in brick and stone are at Coxes and Stoke c. 1769-70. After this date the conversion of the other locks was a gradual process.
From the mid-19th century many of the locks were gradually converted to brick and concrete structures. No locks seem to have been converted in a single episode. Rather rebuilding is undertaken over many years. The head and tail of the locks seem to have been converted to concrete to begin with, but many locks still had their inner chambers turf-sided until the 1960s. Final conversion to the present straight sided locks has occurred in many cases in the early years of National Trust ownership. Only Walsham Gates retains anything like its original form.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Navigations are the locks. There were ten main locks, plus two waste gates on the Wey, and four locks on the Godalming Navigation. It is generally considered that the earliest locks, those on the Wey, were made mainly of timber, and were turf sided.
Turf-sided locks were generally amongst the earliest type of pound lock to be built in England. The earliest in this country date from the 1560s, and were built on the Exeter Canal. They compose little more than lengthy earthen banks between vertically rising gates. Later shorter locks with mitred gates were made on the River Lee in the 1570s, probably based on Continental designs (Crowe 1994, 30). It is not known exactly what form the Wey turf-sided locks took, but one must imagine that they were not unlike the sole surviving example at Walsham.
It is unlikely that the original turf-sided locks had the masonry head and tail now present at Walsham. These were probably made in timber, and only gradually replaced by more solid constructions later on. The shape of the pound enclosed by the earthen banks was seldom uniform on these type of locks. They were generally rectangular, but all sorts of shapes including circular, half-moon and diamond shapes are known from other waterways where there was a need to fit them into awkward or uneven banks. The pound itself was seldom straight sided, as these would tend to erode quickly. The cambered side at Walsham was probably typical, although old photographs often show guard rails were inserted to prevent the boats from grounding against the shallow sides. These locks tended to be wasteful of water. In most parts of the country they were soon replaced by straight-sided masonry locks, particularly on canals where water loss was often a serious problem (ibid). The fact that many of the old locks survived on the Wey well into the present century suggests that, regardless of the numerous complaints the documents record about wasting water, it was not an over-riding problem on the Wey.
Corke (1995, 30) has given the opinion some stone and brick was used in the original construction, particularly below Newark. It is not always possible to substantiate this from an examination of the repair work undertaken on the various locks. In a note (ibid, 70-71) she suggests that it is possible that only 'Thames, Weybridge and Coxes were originally of brick and stone'.
This study has made an examination of the repairs to various locks, and has reached the conclusion that the evidence for construction in brick and stone is nearly always ambiguous. References to building works with brick and stone may not necessarily mean the locks are built mainly of this material. Many of the locks could have been like Walsham, where the entrance or 'wings' are of brick, but the rest of the lock is still turf sided. It many cases it would seem that the locks were long made from a mixture of materials, and it is impossible to say which was the most predominant from the records. Perhaps the best way to resolve this problem is to look at each lock individually, and try to work out as well as possible how each evolved.
In many cases, a clear picture can not be obtained. One is often forced to take statements made in records that are late in date quite literally. For example, surveys of 1826 and 1843 both state that all the locks were still made of wood, with the exception of Stoke, Worsfold, Coxes and Weybridge (GMR 129/107/1-2). As it is unambiguously recorded that Stoke and Coxes were rebuilt in brick and stone in 1770-71 (GMR 129/79/1), and that Worsfold was rebuilt in this material about 1760 (GMR 129/74), then it would leave only the possibility that Weybridge was the only non-wooden lock on the Navigation before 1760. Even this could be untrue, and Weybridge could have been rebuilt in brick and stone after 1760 as a result of the gradual reorganisation of the river that followed the opening of the Godalming Navigation.
It is generally considered that the Godalming Navigation began with straight-sided locks in brick and stone from the beginning. This research will show that this is not true, and that these locks were rebuilt in this style about the same time that most of the Wey Navigation locks were being converted. That is in the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
It should be noted that the work on the locks listed below are not comprehensive. Details given are merely a selection from just a few of the many hundreds of documents connected with the Navigation. Considerably more research would be required to give a proper overall picture of the frequency of repairs needed on individual locks.
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6.2.1 Thames Lock
It has already been shown above that the entrance gate to the Navigation below the main lock at Thames is a later feature, possibly made after 1823. The earliest reference to the lock itself appears to be in June 1675 when 10/- is paid for boards at Weybridge and Thames Locks (GMR 129/62/9). A 'survey' taken in 1724 records that Thames, Weybridge and Coxes Locks are all in need of urgent repair that will not bear waiting (GMR 129/45/50). The best early source for the repairs to locks is the first account book dating from 1724 onwards. Before this date the condition of Thames Lock can only be conjectured.
From this it appears that the only repairs in 1724 at Thames were to the camshotting on the banks (GMR 129/7/1). It is not until 1732 that there are any indications of large scale repair to the Lock there. In this year John Purdue carried out £122-7-0d worth of repairs to the lock (ibid, p. 28). This suggests a substantial repair, but as will be seen from accounts for the complete rebuilding of locks elsewhere, this may not have been nearly enough to suggest that this work was a complete rebuilding. In 1741-42 a further £110-0-9d is spent on repairing the lock (op. cit., p. 48).
Around the middle of the 18th century occasional payments are made for a lock-keeper at Thames, but these are irregular. Until the lock-keeper's cottage was built in 1765, the management of the lock here was part of the duties of the New Haw lock-keeper, who also managed Coxes and Weybridge Locks at this time.
In the survey of 1826, it is stated that the lock here is made of wood, and has a fall of 7 feet 3 inches (GMR 129/107/1, p. 2). The fall given in 1990 was 8 feet 6 inches (National Trust 1990, 7). A watercolour of the lock, in Weybridge Museum, made c. 1804 seems to show that the entrance to the lock was made of wood at this time (Vine 1987, plate 68), thus confirming the evidence given above.
A detailed account is given of repairs to the lock in 1863:
'The Old Lock sides dug out to the Lower Wings & New sides formed with plank for a casing of Concrete. New concrete side walls 3ft thick on the average secured with 30 iron ties to the Old Land Ties. These were whole trees lying with their ends to the Lock-sides. The upper wings dug out & replaced with concrete walls returned on each side to the River Banks. The Breast works up to the Lower Pile with Brickwork 22 1/2 in thick, secured at the back with Concrete 7ft deep & 4ft thick covered with 6 in? Plank 8ft wide holled together to form Apron. The Upper Gates open over --- At the outside edge of the Plank it is dug out & secured with Concrete 2 1/2ft deep and 4 ft wide. Total width of Apron about 12ft. Upper Gates sills Splay pieces Staple posts & Surry Pieces new & of best Materials. Staple posts secured with iron ties 16ft long; sluices to wind with iron jacks? Apron at bottom of Lock renewed for about 30ft. Various repairs to Lower gates. One new wing in concrete below gate. The rest planked up from bottom with 2 in for plank. Nearly 120ft Campsheets for horse waye to Stop-gate renewed & various repairs. The Old works above the Stop gate cleared out & widened.'
It would appear from this that the old wooden lock was in the process of being converted to the present style, but the information given seems to be saying that some parts were left in wood. One would have thought that when the locks were converted from wood to the present brick and concrete structures, they would have been converted entirely in one go. The interpretation of this document is unlikely to be wrong, as this strange piece-meal conversion is recorded at other locks at an even later date (GMR 129/105). For another example, the reader is referred to the works to Newark Lock in 1906 that seem to have begun a process of conversion that does not seem to have been completed until 1933 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 1).
In 1883 further repairs were carried out at Thames. A list of 'Plank & Materials suitable for caseing [sic] for concrete at Thames Lock' is recorded for the 31st of July that year (GMR 129/112/3). Another document records that these repairs were to the lower part of the lock (GMR 129/111/1). Further repairs were carried out in 1908, 1912, 1922 and 1924 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 20). Old photographs of the lock seem to confirm that the lock had been converted to its present style by c. 1910 at the latest (Vine 1987, plate 69; Dapdune archive nos. F14, W37).
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6.2.2 Weybridge Lock
Weybridge Lock is the great mystery amongst the Navigation's locks. Was it originally built differently to the other locks? It is recorded as being made of brick in 1826, but was this a later conversion, like Stoke and Coxes, or was it always in this material. Tradition ascribes it as having been made with bricks from Oatlands Palace, and Corke (1995, 30n) has recovered evidence that suggests that bricks were taken from this site for work on the Navigation that included some of the locks.
The earliest reference to work at Weybridge Lock is recorded in 1674-75 when Thomas Roaker and William Yeowell are paid 1s-4d a day for work there. The exact number of days is uncertain as the payments are mixed up with those for similar work at New Haw Lock. Around this time, payment is made for the carriage of 28 loads of clay to this lock. The manner of the entry, along with payments for repair work suggests the clay was to help build the lock, and the banks around it. In June 1675 £4-10-0d is paid to William Ottaway for 90 feet of oak timber for New Haw & Weybridge Locks (GMR 129/62/9).
The first significant record of repair here is in 1738 when John Purdue is paid £220-15-2d for 'new building' Weybridge Lock and the lock bridge. For this same job he is paid a further £202-13-4d for 'timber & plank' (GMR 129/7/1). Like the references to repairs in the 1670s, this is ambiguous evidence. Surely such a large sum for wood would not be needed if the lock was built entirely of brick at this time? It seems the amount charged here would be more than that needed for the bridge and new gates, the parts that one would expect to be in wood? Are we dealing with a hybrid structure, part brick, part wood? An earlier record in 1724 states that Weybridge is in urgent need of repair, but gives no other details (GMR 129/45/50). In 1774 7s-6d is paid to a mason for two and a half days work at Weybridge, but it is not recorded what he is working on (GMR 129/19/9).
At the survey of 1826 it is recorded that the lock here is of brick and stone, 77 feet long, 15 feet 1 inch wide, and with a fall of 4 feet (GMR 129/107/1, p. 4). The present fall is of 5 feet 6 inches (National Trust 1990, 7).
Between 1845-61 it is recorded that the brickwork at Weybridge Lock was 'thoroughly' repaired, with further 'considerable' repairs in 1862 (GMR 129/105). Again in 1874 'extensive' repairs are recorded. In 1889 a new lower gates are put in, and it is recorded that the 'bottom of this lock is all bricked over' (GMR 129/111/1).
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6.2.3 Coxes Lock
Coxes Lock was rebuilt in brick in 1770-71. For this information, there is not only a date stone on the north side of the lock, but a detailed account for the work (GMR 129/79/1). In this it is recorded that Benjamin Reading, bricklayer, was paid £113-15-9d for building the lock. He used 45,000 bricks at 21/- per 1000. James Dean, the carpenter, was paid £72-19-8d for his work, which would have included two new sets of gates. Other minor bills are listed bringing the total spent to £270-11-10 1/2d. Oddly on June 8th 1771 there is a further payment of £317-12-10d to 'English', suggesting that work continued into the second year. The total bill of around £600 matches approximately the expenditure for similar works in 1771 at Stoke Lock.
It is conceivable that when the 1770s references record rebuilding in brick, they are only referring to the wings. There is often no way of knowing if the inner lock was not kept as a turf-sided feature, as at Walsham. A plan of Coxes Lock, dated to 1800, is very helpful in this respect, in that it shows it as a straight-sided structure (GMR 129/29/59).
According to the survey of 1826 the new lock was of brick and stone, 77 feet 6 inches long, 16 feet 2 inches wide, and with a fall of 9 feet 2 inches (GMR 129/107/1). The present fall is 8 feet 6 inches (National Trust 1990, 10).
References to the pre-1770 seem to suggest that the old lock was made of wood. In 1729 John Purdue, the carpenter, was paid £254-3-6d for 'new building' Coxes Lock (GMR 129/7/1, p. 18). In 1733 new flooring is put into the lock at the cost of £83-8-11d (ibid, p. 29). In 1746 further work was carried out here, but a separate account for it is not given. In 1758 £91-18-10d is spent on repairs (op. cit., p. 91).
Post-1770 repairs are recorded between 1845-61, 1873, 1887, 1889, 1893, 1908, 1920 and 1930 (GMR 129/105; 129/111/1; 137/12/40).
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6.2.4 New Haw Lock
The earliest reference to work on the lock at New Haw dates from 1674-75. Payments were made to workmen at a rate of 1/4d a day, and oak timber was brought in for the job. The work coincides with what appears to be more detailed activity at Weybridge Lock (GMR 129/62/9).
The lock was in need of repair in 1724 (GMR 129/45/50). It was 'new' built in 1733, with £187-12-9d paid to John Purdue, the carpenter, and £177-7-6d expended on timber and plank to do the job (GMR 129/7/1, p. 29). There is no reason to doubt that New Haw was essentially a wooden lock at this date. In 1758 £108-5-9d is spent on repairs (ibid, p. 91).
The survey of 1826 records that the lock is of wood, 75 feet 10 inches long, 13 feet 9 inches wide, and with a fall of 7 feet (GMR 129/107/1). The present fall is 6 feet 8 inches (National Trust 1990, 100.
At some time between 1845 and 1861 the river was stopped for some days while the lock was repaired. It is recorded that all the upper part of the structure was replaced, all one side, and part of another renewed (GMR 129/105). A new apron was installed in 1877, and new lower gates in 1888 (GMR 129/111/1). In 1911 the lower end of the lock was rebuilt, and in 1939 those parts of the timber sides and bottom that were not 'already in concrete' were rebuilt in that material (GMR 137/12/40). Parts of the lock remained in timber until 1957, when they were also replaced by concrete. This was mainly the 'wings' of the 'upper' end (Stevens' Journal, p. 218). Like the other locks on the system, it would appear that the conversion to the present style of lock was a piecemeal process.
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6.2.5 Pyrford Lock
This is an enigmatic site. It is in a quiet out-of-the-way location today, but it may not have always been one of the lesser lock sites on the Navigation. It had its own lock-keeper before Walsham Gates. One must assume that he was centred at the Pigeon House Wharf, as there does not seem to have ever been a lock-house at Pyrford, unless the Anchor Inn was once used for this purpose. A building has been here since at least the later 18th century.
In 1737 £28-1-1d was paid for what must have been minor repairs to this lock (GMR 129/7/1, p. 38), but no further repairs have been seen before 1758. This may be because the lock-keeper carried out his own running repairs efficiently, but this would have been unusual as repair work is usually done by a carpenter. The lock is described as needing repair in 1724 (GMR 129/45/50) and again in 1775 (GMR 129/74).
In 1796 William Alladay, lock-keeper at Thames, proposed to the Proprietors that a 'cut' should be made around Pyrford Lock whilst repairs were going on at Walsham to allow boats to continue navigation (GMR 129/22/12). It is not certain whether this was a proposal for a barge cutting to circumvent the lock, or the present spillway cut on the west side of the lock to allow waste water to run around it. There is no record to indicate if this suggestion was taken up.
In the 1826 survey the lock is described as being of wood, 76 feet 1 inch in length, 14 feet 5 inches wide, and with a fall of 4 feet 3 inches (GMR 129/107/1, p. 9). The present fall is 4 feet 9 inches (National Trust 1990, 11).
Only 'necessary' repairs were recorded between 1845 and 1861 (GMR 129/105), but more drastic activity is mentioned for the first time in 1867. In this year it is noted 'finished the concrete at Pyrford extending from the lower gates and winged off below the Bridge'. A new apron was also added. In 1889 a further new apron was made, and it is recorded 'all new except just below Lower Lock Gates' (GMR 129/111/1). The latter work was presumably that recorded in 1867. The lock was repaired again in 1907 and 1929. It is recorded that the 'later repairs [were] in concrete' (GMR 137/12/40). In 1951 it was recorded that the remaining timber side on the towpath side was replaced in concrete. Once this had been completed, Harry Stevens wrote that the whole of this lock had been converted to concrete (Harry Stevens' Journal, p. 228).
These repair records illustrate the difficulty in determining how far concrete rebuilding had progressed in the early 20th century. A photograph of Pyrford Lock in the 1920s shows that the towpath (east) side of the lock was still turf-sided, although the entrance wings seem to have been made in concrete (Vine 1987, plate 77). As there is a clear record that the conversion to concrete began in the 1860s, this photograph demonstrates that the changes to the locks were piecemeal. As will be seen, a number of the locks still had partial turf-sides as late as the 1950s, and Walsham has never been fully converted.
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6.2.6 Walsham Gates
Walsham is the only turf-sided 'lock' still extant on the Navigation. It is not a true lock as such, being a set of waste gates to alleviate floods. They have a fall of only one foot, and the gates are left open in normal river conditions (National Trust 1990, 13).
The name is taken from the adjoining common meadow, Walsham Mead. In 1705 repairs are undertaken here, but no details are given (GMR 129/44/55). In 1750 an unspecified sum is expended on repairs here (GMR 129/7/1, p. 74). Between 1845 and 1861 only 'necessary' jobs were recorded (GMR 129/105). In 1884 a new apron and waste gates were put in, with more repairs the following year that included 'camshotting the lock'. In 1887 the 'wings' were repaired, and new upper gates were installed in 1893 (GMR 129/111/1). The bottom of the lock was relaid in concrete in 1929 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 41).
In 1934 'much' of the upper end of the lock was replaced in concrete, with the timber work at the lower end being converted in 1937 (Harry Stevens' Journal, pp. 100-01).
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6.2.7 Newark Lock
Newark Lock was built anew in 1730 at a cost of £165-2-9d for the carpenter, and £210-17-4d for the timber (GMR 129/7/1, p. 20). Further repairs were carried out in 1746 (ibid, p. 62). The survey of 1826 notes that it is of wood, 76 feet long, 13 feet 8 inches wide, and with a fall of 5 feet 11 inches (GMR 129/107/1, p. 11). Between 1845 and 1861 the river was stopped for several days as all the upper part of the lock, all one side and part of another was renewed (GMR 129/105). In 1869 new upper gates and an apron were repaired. In 1888 it is recorded that the lock here had a 'cement breastwork' (GMR 129/141/4). In 1890 much of the remaining woodwork was replaced. This included a new apron of elm planks, new planked bottom, and new planking on the sides and the 'high wings' (GMR 129/111/1).
In 1906 the main conversion to concrete seems to have begun. Here it is recorded that a dam was put up a short distance 'down stream', and the water pumped out of the lock. The repairs were made in concrete. More repairs were carried out in 1923 and 1924. In 1933 'the sides and ends of the lower end of this lock' that had been still in timber were 'replaced by concrete' (GMR 137/12/40). There are a number of photographs recording this exercise (Dapdune archives nos. Z17, Z18, S66). A photograph reputing to be of repairs in 1936 still shows that a section in the centre of the lock was still turf-sided, although over two-thirds of the sides appears to have been vertical (Vine 1987, plate 80). In 1947 Harry Stevens records that the existing timber sides were rebuilt in concrete on both sides (Harry Stevens' Journal, p. 188).
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6.2.8 Papercourt Lock
Papercourt Lock is perhaps one of the most interesting on the Navigation. It is unique in that we know for certain that it is not in its original position. This may have been the case with some of the other locks, particularly as so little is known about them before the first account book starts in 1724. Papercourt was moved c. 1787 when the Proprietors made arrangements to purchase additional land to make a cutting to take the new lock (GMR 129/52/24-25). The new arrangements are shown on a plan of 1781 accompanying one of the documents concerned with this proposal (GMR 129/10/38). It is not known if the changes were carried out exactly according to this plan, but it would seem that the old lock was to the west of the present structure. Quite why this work, which required a longer and less direct new cutting, was needed is not fully understood. This change invalidates the statement by a number of commentators that Papercourt Lock was one of the oldest on the Navigation (Surrey County Council SMR no. 477). The exact opposite is the case. The lock is one of the most recent on its present site.
The old lock had been rebuilt anew for £218-0-11d in 1730-31 (GMR 129/7/1, p. 22), with further repairs made in 1746 (ibid, p. 62). In 1775 it is recorded as being 'in bad repair' (GMR 129/74). The new lock is recorded in 1826 as being made of wood, 76 feet long, and 13 feet 10 inches wide (GMR 129/107/1, p. 12). The present fall is of 8 feet (National Trust 1990, 14).
There are various repairs made throughout the 19th century. The most important change appears to have occurred in 1907. At this time it is recorded that the lower end was repaired in the Spring. The old wood bottom was replaced in concrete, and new concrete wings and an apron were put in. The upper apron, we are told, was 'replanked', suggesting that the conversion to the present style was piecemeal. Chalk and clay under the old floor had washed out to a depth of one foot, and 40 tons of Portland Cement were used in the repairs. This was brought from London by barge (GMR 137/12/40, pp. 8-9).
An old photograph of this work, hanging in the Navigation offices at Dapdune gives a different picture of the repairs. Here the lock is shown to be almost completely in wood. This is clarified by a photograph taken in the 1950s that shows the lock still turf-sided, with a timber guard rail (Vine 1987, plate 81). From this, it can be concluded that the extensive concreting being recorded in 1907 did not represent a complete conversion.
The lock was repaired again in 1924, 1930, 1932, 1935 and 1940 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 10). In 1940 it was considered that the timber parts of the lock should be repaired in concrete, but because of the 'war' the additional expense was considered too much, and the defects were patched up in timber (Harry Stevens' Journal, p. 40).
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6.2.9 Worsfold Gates
Worsfold is sometimes given as 'Worsfield', the name of a local person employed on the canal in its early days. In 1671 John Worsfold, a 'husbandman' of Send, claimed £60 for work done repairing the banks of the river at a rate of five shillings a week (Carter 1965, 102). At this rate, it seems he was employed on the river for at least four years and eight months. He may have been the first carpenter on the Navigation, hence giving his name to their workshop site.
It is recorded in the survey of 1775 that the lock here was built with bricks about 15 years previously (GMR 129/74). In 1826 it is recorded that the fall was only nine inches (GMR 129/107/1). There are repairs recorded during the 19th century, but nothing major seems to be recorded. Parts of the lock were replaced in concrete in 1921, but these works were piecemeal. Harry Stevens records further minor conversions to concrete in 1933, 1938 and 1960 (Harry Stevens' Journal, pp. 138-39), but this lock remains one of the worst recorded on the Wey section of the Navigations.
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6.2.10 Triggs Lock
The name Triggs derives from a local family of that name. In 1671 John Trigg 'of Sutton, yeoman' was still trying to claim £5-13-0d for work done on the construction of the Navigation in 1655 (Carter 1965, 98). This same John Triggs seems to have sold the Navigation land worth £16 through which the cut was made. A further £1-13-9d of land was purchased from 'Widow Triggs', possibly John's mother, just before the new cut through Sutton met up with the old river again (GMR 129/63/7). From this it would seem that the land on which Triggs Lock stood once belonged to this family. There was also a Richard and James Trigg, who were owed money in August 1654 for work they had done on the 'earth barge' building the Navigation (GMR 129/45/33).
Triggs Lock is recorded as being still in wood in 1826. Then it was 84 feet long, 13 feet 6 inches wide, and with a fall of 6 feet 3 inches (GMR 129/107/1, p. 15). There were repairs recorded in the 19th century, the most interesting being that of 1882, when it is recorded that brick was 'piled above the Apron' (GMR 129/111/1). Further repairs were made in 1909 and 1913 (GMR 137/12/40), but it is not clear when the change to the present style was completed. Harry Stevens records the conversion of timber work 'on the sides above the upper staple posts & the timber wings...' to concrete in 1957, with further minor conversions to concrete in 1963 (Harry Stevens' Journal, pp. 206-07). It is possible that the final changes did not take place until 1967, when photographs show what may be the final replacement of the remaining timber sides in concrete (Dapdune archives, nos. Y22-24).
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6.2.11 Bowers Lock
Bowers Lock, like Triggs, seems to have been named after its previous owner, Thomas Bower. The Navigation had purchased land from him in the 1650s to make the new cutting (GMR 129/63/7).
Bowers Lock was rebuilt in 1727, when a man named Wilkins was paid £2-19-0d for 'lighting' four times during these works (GMR 129/7/1, p. 12). This payment occurs frequently in the early accounts, but tends to be mentioned less as the 18th century progresses. It is possible that barges could continue to pass the locks during these earlier repairs if their cargo was removed to lighten the load. In the later records, it is usually mentioned how many days the river was closed to allow lock repairs. Could these references suggest a change in operation around 1760?
The accounts record 'new building' the lock here in 1745 for a cost of £313-4-4d, with the 'timber and planks' costing an extra £174-16-0d (GMR 129/107/1, p. 60). During the middle of the 18th century occasional payments are recorded for a lock-keeper here, but these are not made on a regular basis (ibid, p. 77).
There is a detailed account of the materials used to repair the lock in 1798. These do not amount to the sums required to rebuild the entire lock, amounting to less than £45. They were obviously running repairs, or perhaps a new set of gates, with other minor repairs. It records the preparation of 295 feet of 'square' oak, and 182 feet of 'squared' elm, plus £1-5-0d for 'Sand for the bays' (GMR 129/27/1). The latter is probably infilling behind the apron.
According to the 1826 survey the lock was then of wood, 77 feet 3 inches long, 14 feet 7 inches wide, and with a fall of 7 feet 6 inches (GMR 129/107/1, p. 17). The present fall is 7 feet (National Trust 1990, 18).
The lock was almost entirely renewed in 1861 (GMR 129/105). It was repaired again in 1881 (GMR 129/111/1). The lower end was rebuilt in concrete in 1905. In 1917 there were further repairs that involved planking on the apron, indicating that the conversion to the present style was piecemeal. In October 1925 new upper gates were installed. It is recorded that these had been made at Dapdune in the winter of 1925. In 1927 the sides of the lock were rebuilt in concrete, the old timber sides 'being in a very bad state' (GMR 137/12/40, p. 45). The remaining portions of the timber lock seem to have been rebuilt in concrete in 1950 and 1957 (Harry Stevens' Journal, pp. 113, 233).
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6.2.12 Stoke Lock
Stoke Lock was rebuilt in brick in 1771-72, and a reasonably detailed account of the costs and materials has survived. Over £314 was paid for the bricks alone. The labour, stone, lead and ironwork came to over £442 on top of this. There was even need to hire a meadow to put the materials on at a rent of £3-3-0d (GMR 129/79/1). The old lock had needed 'digging out & repairing' in 1743 at a cost of £120-11-5d after it 'fell in' (GMR 129/7/1, p. 54).
According to the survey of 1826, the lock was made of brick and stone, 74 feet 6 inches long, 15 feet wide, and with a fall of 6 feet 2 inches (GMR 129/107/1, p. 18). The present fall is 6 feet 9 inches (National Trust 1990, 19).
Repairs are recorded throughout the 19th century, but it does not seem that concrete work was carried out until after 1900. In 1914 a concrete apron was put on the upper end of the lock, a concrete bottom was installed and a concrete wall put up between the lock and the horse bridge. The concrete abutments to the horse bridge were put up in 1925 (GMR 137/12/40).
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6.2.13 Millmead Lock
Millmead Lock was not built until the Godalming Navigation was added to the already navigable river in 1760. The Commissioners authorised William Jeffrey and George Broon field to build this lock in March 1762 (GMR 142/1/1, p. 47). By 1787 the lower gates of the lock were considered to be 'so decayed' that they needed repairing (ibid., p. 503). Earlier in 1786 John Blarkman 'of Millmead' was appointed as an 'additional' lock-keeper on the Navigation (op. cit., p. 496). In 1792 John Hale 'of Guildford' was appointed 'additional' lock-keeper at eight shilling a week, with a house to live in rent free (GMR 142/1/2, p. 63). It is not specifically stated that these two men served at Millmead, but their place of residence suggests that they were serving their local lock.
The records for the Godalming Navigation are generally much sparser than for the Wey section. It was not until the Stevens family started to take over the Wey Navigation at the end of the 19th century that occasional more detailed snippets were recorded by them about the Godalming locks. The Commissioners employed them to oversee works on the Godalming Navigation from the later 19th century, and some of these works were recorded in their Wey Navigation accounts. These show that the Godalming locks may not have been built as straight-sided brick features from the beginning, but were originally made of wood. They seem to have been converted gradually to brick and concrete around the same time as the Wey locks.
In 1887 the lock at Millmead is given a new set of upper gates. The following extract from an account of repairs to the lock made by the Stevens family in June 1891 seems to suggest that the original lock was largely made of timber.
'Put in Bay with 3 inch Deals (12 feets) at end of Mill Mead Cut, and ran the water out Tuesday morning could not keep the Water out with hand pumps there being Springs all over the Lock and cut. Steam Engine hired on Wednesday morning and kept at work till following Tuesday even, put in New Lower Lock Gates & Staple Posts at Mill Mead Lock and renewed the aron at the head of the Lock which was washed away and the ground washed out to a depth of six feet (used 2 inch Deals) the lower apron below the Lower Lock Gates lined all over with 2 inch deals this extends to 20 feet below the Lock gates, cleaned out the Cut finished all off 20th June.' (GMR 129/111/1)
In 1906 the timber aprons and the bottom of the lock were replaced in concrete (Harry Stevens' Journal, p. 1). The present fall of this lock is 6 feet 3 inches (National Trust 1990, 23).
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6.2.14 St. Catherine's Lock
Records for St. Catherine's Lock in 1909 seem to further clarify the question of the type of lock originally used on the Godalming Navigation. It is recorded that,
'The work included the demolishing of the existing timbers forming the sides of the Lock & replacing the same with concrete walls... The bottom of the Lock & the upper & lower aprons were not touched as they were built of bricks & were in a good state of preservation'
It might be suggested that parts of some of the Godalming Navigation locks may have always been in brick, but the sides were originally in timber. An order from the Commissioners dated July 1768 states that John Woods is to look at St. Catherine's Hill lock, and 'to make his report of what is wanted to repair the Brickwork' (GMR 142/1/1, p. 248). In 1809 it was reported that two new pairs of gates were required at St. Catherine's Hill (GMR 142/1/2, p. 158), and again in 1859, when in addition new sides and a bottom was required at a cost of £300 (GMR 142/1/3).
In 1891 new upper gates are put up, and the sides repaired. It is also recorded at this time that the bottom of the lock is of brick (GMR 129/111/1). Further repairs were carried out in 1923, 1932 and 1935 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 26).
The present fall of this lock is 3 feet (National Trust 1990, 24).
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6.2.15 Unstead Lock
There is only a scanty record for this lock, but it seems to show that the general pattern of piecemeal conversion was applied here. John Woods and Richard Sweetapple were commissioned to build this lock in March 1762 (GMR 142/1/1, p. 47). In 1768 Woods was again ordered to carry out unspecified repairs to this lock (ibid., p. 250). By November 1787 the lower gates were so decayed that they needed repairing (op. cit., p. 503).
It is recorded that the mill leat cutting had become much silted when the lock was 'rebuilt' in September 1928. The lower apron and the bottom brick was still good. The upper apron was of wood, 'but concrete was laid between the channels so that these can be used for a dam when the wood apron is replaced in concrete' (GMR 137/12/40, p. 66). This apron was finally converted to concrete as late as 1953 (Harry Stevens' Journal, pp. 162-63).
The present fall of this lock is 6 feet 9 inches (National Trust 1990, 27).
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6.2.16 Catteshall Lock
A photograph of 1908 shows Catteshall Lock in a similar condition to that to be found today. The sides are straight, and the main body of the lock beyond the gates seems to be mostly in brick, but the picture is not entirely clear on this point (Dapdune archives no. P45). This situation may have been the result of work carried out in 1859. In this year it was recorded that the lock was 'entirely constructed at a cost approaching £550' (GMR 142/1/3). There is little else recorded of this lock, other than an order given in 1768 for John Woods to carry out repairs there (GMR 142/1/1, p. 250).
The lock was repaired in August-September 1929. The sides, bottom and lower apron were then all in brick. The timber apron at the upper end is noted as being in good order, but the timber below the lower cill was replaced in concrete (GMR 137/12/40, p. 62).
The present fall of this lock is 5 feet 11 inches (National Trust 1990, 28).
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The surviving buildings of the Navigation are largely simple brick and tile structures that date from the gradual reorganisation of the river's management following the creation of the Godalming Navigation, 1760-64. The excetion is possibly the Wharf Cottage at Dapdune and the workshops at Worsfold, which are thought to date from the 17th century in their original form. Even this might be questioned, and new evidence is put forward to suggest that these buildings have replaced earlier buildings on other sites.
The first lock-houses seem to have been built in the 1760s following the opening of the Godalming Navigation in 1764. The earliest recorded are at Thames, Triggs and Papercourt, but all the present houses seem to have been built by the 1790s. A number of these houses have been drastically rebuilt. The houses at Stoke and Papercourt are no longer on their original sites, having been rebuilt in 1888 and 1922 respectively.
The overview has also identified other important buildings associated with the management of the river. These range from simple stables to specialised store houses at Parvis Bridge, Dapdune and Stonebridge.
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6.3.1 Thames lock-house
There does not seem to have been a permanent lock-keeper here until the lock-house was built. According to William Stevens II, writing after the event, the house was put up in 1765 (GMR 129/90/5). This seems to be confirmed as on 26th November 1765 the Navigation account book records £73 being paid to Henry Field for bricklayers and plasterers 'building ye house at Thames Lock' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 33).
From January 1765 Thomas Collins is recorded as being paid £8-15s for 'Ticketing Goods in the barges at Thames Lock' (ibid, p.10). This seems to suggest that there was a reorganisation of the way the Navigation was operated about this time. From hereon, it would seem that Thames Lock becomes one of the more important stations on the river. Before this operations on the lower Navigation seem to have been run from New Haw Wharf. Collins was discharged after a year on 1st January 1766, and John Goring took over from him (op. cit., p. 38). Goring remained at Thames Lock until at least January 1769, but by February 1770 he had been transferred to Guildford Wharf, where he acted as wharfinger until early in 1779 (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 21). Goring seems to have been replaced by Joseph Armytage. Armytage is first recorded as specifically drawing the salary for looking after Thames Lock in January 1773, but he is recorded drawing similar sums before this for unspecified duties. The correlation of the wages suggests this was for lock-keeping at Thames (ibid, p. 45, 55). Vine (1986, 254) gives a continuous list of lock-keepers from 1775, beginning with Armytage.
In 1821 Mr Cracklow, given as the 'agent', sent one plum, two cherry, two pear, and eleven apple trees to be planted in the garden there (GMR 129/81). The survey of 1826 records it as having four rooms upstairs, and four on the ground floor. At one end, under the same roof, was a stable. The ground floor was recorded as being damp because it is below the level of the canal (GMR 129/107/1).
In the 1840s Messrs Flockton in Ham Mill claimed that the cottage was on his property, and therefore belonged to him (GMR 129/95/1-24). The matter was eventually resolved whereby the Navigation kept the cottage, but paid Flocktons 10/- per annum for the garden (GMR 129/10/81).
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6.3.2 New Haw Lock-house
It has been demonstrated above that there had been a house on the wharf here from an early date, possibly the 1650s. It is possible the lock-keeper lived here initially. In the 1720s the lock-keeper at New Haw was also the wharfinger at the wharf. As time passed the account books seem to load more duties on him. By the 1750s he was also looking after Coxes, Weybridge and Thames Lock (GMR 129/7/1, passim).
According to a memorandum book dating from after 1823, the house here was built in 1782 (GMR 129/81). It is marked on the map of the Navigation for that date (GMR 129/143/13). In 1825 a Mr Bunn, possibly the former tenant of Ham Mills, claimed that the lock-house had been built on his property, and belonged to him (GMR 129/71/4). Interestingly, he claims to have bought it from Alex Raby, so it may be part of the land the latter bought to prevent a mill being set up at New Haw c. 1798 (GMR 129/22/70; 129/70/17). This threat must have been resolved as the Navigation still held the house the following year, but this is a curious incident. If Bunn is correct in stating the house was built on land formerly owned by Raby, why is there no record of Raby claiming it? Raby certainly claimed two acres adjacent to the lock, as he offered to give it up in 1798 in exchange for his water rights (GMR 129/22/70), but he does not mention a house on it. Could the house post-date Raby's involvement, making the 1782 construction date wrong, or was Bunn mistaken?
A further clue to this mystery is an entry in the account books in 1764 that records a payment for digging the cut for a tumbling bay at New Haw (GMR 129/7/2, p. 8). It might be suggested from this that the island on which the house stands was created around this time, possibly indicating that the Proprietors were claiming the land at this time. Unfortunately no further information has been forthcoming to confirm if this was the case.
The 1826 survey records that the house had four rooms on the ground floor and two above (GMR 129/107/1).
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6.3.3 Buildings on Parvis Wharf
Very little is known about these buildings. The two storey brick and timber building known as the Grist Mill is the older of the two. It is first recorded in 1807 when it is stated that William Charman and Thomas Kingsnorth have recently purchased it from John Webb of Chertsey, a broker (GMR 129/10/132 iii). A sale document of 1840 records it as a 'Granary and Coal Warehouse', measuring 20 feet square. James Yeowell, a grocer and mealman and coal merchant 'has carried on business here for many years' (GMR 129/10/132). William Stevens III bought this building from Miss Anne Yowell in 1903 (Dapdune Archives W218).
Alan Wardle (pers. comm.) has informed the author that there are photographs existing that show that there was once another building similar to the Grist Mill on this wharf. This has now gone. He has further provided the information that in the late 1930s 'Surrey Grist Mills' leased the property, and seem to have been grinding animal feed here with a parafin engine. This may further help to explain the name of this building.
There are references to what amounts to cargoes being loaded and unloaded at a site given merely as 'Byfleet' from 1775. Although these amounts are fairly modest until 1783, after this date they become quite large, with over 500 'loads' (each 'load' being roughly equivalent to a ton) being handled here in some quarter year periods (GMR 129/7/4a). It can not be said with certainty that these loads are for the wharf at Parvis Bridge, but an earlier record of 1765 refers specifically to 36 loads being taken from Guildford to Parvis Bridge (GMR 129/7/2, p. 36). From this it would seem that a wharf was being operated regularly at Parvis Bridge by at least the 1770s.
he barn to the south may be a second building shown on the site on the Ordnance Survey 6" map of 1872 (sheet xvii).
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6.3.4 Walsham Gates Cottage
In the first half of the 18th century, the lock-keeper for this section was stationed at Pyrford. Again, like at New Haw, it may be that his duties as wharfinger at Pyrford Wharf meant that he lived in the wharf house that may have been there at this date (it is certainly present on later maps). Robert Skeet is the last employee to be listed as working specifically at 'Pyrford'. He seems to have taken over the duties there from William Skeet early in 1753 (GMR 129/7/1, p. 79), and seems to have continued working for the Navigation until at least February 1771 (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 33).
The lock-keeper for Pyrford may have shifted his work place to Walsham with the building of the cottage there. It is recorded as a good lock-keepers house in the survey of 1775 (GMR 129/74), and so may have been built soon after Thames lock-house as part of a reorganisation of the various lock-keeper's duties around this time. The first mention found of a lock-keeper specifically at Walsham is William Dudman who is paid salary for the preceding three months in January 1774 (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 64). Dudman seems to have been replaced by William Wornham by December 1777. Sarah Dudman was paid for his duties in March 1777, suggesting that she was his widow. Wornham is never listed in the account books as being at Walsham, but the fact he replaced Sarah Dudman in the list of lock-keepers is suggestive. Wornham was himself replaced by Richard Gumnor in March 1780. Gumnor may have only been temporary as in September 1780, he is replaced by Edward Willis. By December 1783 William Wornham is back in the list of keepers, alongside Willis. As the account books no longer lists who is at any specific lock at this date, it seems as if the thread of Walsham lock-keepers is lost to any certainty in March 1777.
Vine (1986, 254) takes up his list of Walsham lock-keepers with J Percy in 1812. Percy first occurs in the accounts in December 1803, seemingly replacing William Hersey. Hersey had been a Navigation employee since at least December 1797 (GMR 129/7/5a). The accounts for the later part of the 18th and early 19th century do not list where each keeper was employed, and it is only Vine's assertion that Percy was at Walsham in 1812 that might suggest he was also there in 1803. Again, his apparent replacement of Hersey can only hint at the latter also being a possible Walsham lock-keeper.
In 1826 the lock-house is described as having two rooms on the ground floor and two above (GMR 129/107/1). The present structure bears a date stamp '1896', which indicates that there must have been a substantial rebuilding around this time. In 1936 it was 'weather-tiled' for £29-10-0d (GMR 137/12/40).
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6.3.5 Papercourt Lock-house
There does not seem to have been a separate lock-keeper at Papercourt before 1758, as his duties were carried out by the wharfinger at Sendheath Wharf (GMR 129/7/1, passim). A lock-house seems to have been built here in 1766, when William Harris is paid for bricks and lime for 'the House at Papercourt Lock' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 37). From 1764, the man in charge of this section of the river is listed with Papercourt Lock as his first mentioned duty. Before this Sendheath Wharf seems to have taken priority. It would seem that the wharf duties were becoming less important, and that the river was already being reorganised to be based on the locks rather than the wharves before the houses were built. The coincidence of building Papercourt lock-house around the same time as Thames does suggest some form of reorganisation was taking place from the 1760s. This may have been connected with increased traffic as a result of the opening of the Godalming Navigation.
On January 1st 1766 William Hammerton, who had been in charge of this stretch of river, was 'discharged' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 39). A number of other employees were given notice around this time, including Thomas Collins at Thames. It is possible that this might suggest a 'clean-up' of operations, that may have included the removal of corrupt staff. Although efficiency may have also been a motivation, Hammerton's dismissal may not be sinister. There had been Hammertons working on the Navigation at least since 1727, when there was a William Hammerton at New Haw until 1731. John Hammerton had been at Sendheath from 1744 to 1758. If the William Hammerton at New Haw was the same man as being discharged at Papercourt in 1766, it may be that he was being retired as too old for the job.
The new lock-keeper at Papercourt was Joseph Magowen (GMR 129/7/2, p. 54). By early in 1770 he had been replaced by James Briggs, who had briefly been at Triggs Lock (GMR 129/7/3a). Briggs continued to be employed by the Navigation until at least 1808 (GMR 129/7/5a), but whether this was entirely at Papercourt is not known.
In 1770 Benjamin Reading is paid £6-8-1 1/2d for building a stable at Papercourt (GMR 129/79/1). The survey of 1826 states that the stable was incorporated into the ground floor of the house. This survey states that the building was of two rooms on the ground floor and three above (GMR 129/107/1). The plan accompanying the proposed new position of the lock in 1781 shows the cottage clearly marked as being on the island between the new lock and the present weir (GMR 129/10/38).
In 1922 it is recorded that an old lock cottage was 'pulled down' and a 'new cottage built on the higher ground near the towing path' (GMR 137/12/40, p. 10). The present lock cottage is on the other side of the weir from the original site.
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6.3.6 Buildings at Worsfold Gates
There would appear to be a number of early buildings sited at Worsfold on account of it being one of the Navigation's workyards. Most of the present buildings seem to have had buildings on their site by 1826. It is thought that the present cottage was re-erected there from elsewhere c. 1888 (Vince Locatelli pers. comm.). There had been a carpenter's shop at Sendheath Wharf until at least 1782, and it has to be asked if many of the functions of this wharf were only gradually transferred to Worsfold and Cartbridge? Following the enclosure of Send Heath, the position of the old wharf there seems to have become increasingly untenable as is made clear by a letter from the Master Carpenter, Stephen Chandler, in 1804 (GMR 129/27/14). It may be, therefore, that there was little need for buildings at Worsfold much before this time. Chandler was dating his letters from 'Sutton Green' from at least 1798 (eg GMR 129/22/79), so it would seem that he was basing his operations at Worsfold at this time.
There are no buildings shown there in 1782, although the old carpenter's shop at Send, and the warehouse at Cartbridge are both marked (GMR 129/143/13). This is contrary to the dating of the workshop there. According to the Department of the Environment list of Listed Buildings (Send no. 1/183), this building is of late 17th century date. Quite how such unequivocal dating can be designated to such a plain building is not known. It is possible that the building was there before the lock-house, but all indications are that buildings were only put up here as the importance of Sendheath Wharf declined towards the end of the 18th century.
The 1826 survey lists the buildings on the site as a house made of timber with a tile roof with three rooms on the ground floor and three upstairs with a woodhouse and stable. There is also a workshop for a carpenter in timber and tile, a sawhouse of timber and pantile and a timber yard (GMR 129/107/1, p. 14). Three buildings are also shown on Jago's map of 1823 (GMR X80/5).
The Sale Catalogue of 1888 lists the buildings there as 'a Timber & Tiled Workshop, Brick and Tiled Building of Sawpits, Brick, Timber and Tiled Shed, Donkey Stable, Piggery etc, Brick, Timber and Tiled Cottage and a Garden' (GMR 129/141/4). There is also an inventory of the timber kept at the 'River Work Yard' on January 1st 1875 in the warehouse, sawhouse, workshop and blacksmith's shop (GMR 129/112/1).
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6.3.7 Triggs Lock-house
Triggs lock-house appears to have been made in 1769, when there is a record of William Harris being paid £77-14-1d for bricks and lime for Stoke Bridge and 'Triggs House' (GMR 129/79/1). The records for a regular lock-keeper here start earlier than at most other locks. There are occasional entries for payments for attending the lock from 1729 when John Andrews is paid £1-15-0d a quarter for 'keeping Triggs Lock' (ibid, p. 18).
From at least 1747 there appears to have been a permanent presence here. That year William Wisdom is paid £3-10-0d a quarter year for 'taking care of Triggs Lock & other work including catching Rats' (GMR 129/7/1, p. 63). Later that year his duties are recorded as looking after Bowers Lock as well as Triggs. From hereon he is listed on a regular basis as being in charge at Triggs until c. 1765 (GMR 129/7/1, passim; 129/7/2). By March 1765 Joseph Neels had taken over Wisdom's tasks at Bowers Lock (GMR 129/7/2, p. 44), and by 1768 James Briggs was briefly at Triggs before taking over at Papercourt (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 7). When Briggs moved, his place was taken by William Radnall, who seems to have been in post by the end of 1769, probably taking possession of the new lock-house (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 21). Radnall continued to work for the Navigation until around March 1785, when his place is taken by Jesse Payne. Payne was still working on the Navigation in 1808 (GMR 129/7/5a), but Vine (1986, 254) has a 'J Payne' at Stoke Lock from c. 1800 to 1813. The accounts do not say if Payne replaced Radnall at Triggs, or if Radnall worked there until 1785.
The house is one of only two lock-houses recorded on the Navigation on the 1775 survey (GMR 129/74). In 1875 a blacksmith's shop is recorded there, and an inventory of its goods recorded (GMR 129/112/1). The 1888 Sale Catalogue lists a cottage, blacksmith's shop, and a garden with a shed (GMR 129/141/4). In 1916 the cottage was enlarged when an 'additional two rooms' were built on to it (GMR 137/12/40).
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6.3.8 Stoke Lock-house
No records were found by Vine (1986, 254) for lock-keepers at Stoke before 1800. It is possible that the reference to the wharfinger's duties at 'Guildford and Stoke' (GMR 129/7/1, passim) may have meant that the Guildford wharfinger also performed the lock-keeper's duties at Stoke in the early days of the Navigation. The house appears to be first mentioned in 1791 when the Proprietors pay 'house Tax' for Stoke (GMR 129/7/5a). In June 1794 they pay rent of £2 for 'Stoke Lock garden', a further indication that there is a house there by this time (GMR 129/7/4c).
The survey of 1826 is the first reference found so far to the house. It is reported here as comprising two rooms and a workshop on the ground floor, with three chambers above. There are further comments that there has been a 'large settlement' because the house had been built on 'made ground which gives way' (GMR 129/107/1, p. 18). The survey of 1858 records that this resulted in it having to be rebuilt because it had become dangerous (GMR 129/107/4). In 1888 it is recorded that it had to be rebuilt again by the Navigation 'workmen' (GMR 137/12/40). It is not known if the present structure remains on the original site.
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6.3.9 Wharf Cottage, and other buildings at Dapdune Wharf
A number of commentators have considered that this is the oldest building owned by the Navigation, but this research suggests that it may have dwelling house relatively late in its development.
There was a permanent wharfinger at Dapdune from the time of the first accounts in 1724. There can be little doubt that there were buildings on the site at this date. What is not so clear is where the dwelling house often mentioned there was situated. A map of 1800 shows only a 'powder house' on the site of Wharf Cottage. The 'Dwelling House' is shown slightly to the west of Dapdune Lea (GMR 129/29/54). It is very hard to believe that someone would have lived in a 'powder house', although this may have only been a temporary arrangement in 1800.
In 1731 six shillings is paid in window tax for the 'Wharfhouse at Dapdom' (GMR 129/7/1, p. 23). The idea that the dwelling house may not have been the present Wharf Cottage is supported by the 1826 survey. This states that Dapdune has a 'storehouse', the south end let to William Mills, the north end to 'Mr Hodgson'. There is also a stable, and a double cottage with a fuel house at the SW corner of the wharf (GMR 129/107/1, p. 20). This is exactly where the 1800 map shows the 'Dwelling House' to be. Jago's map of 1823 repeats this information, showing a largish house in the SW corner of the wharf (GMR X80/7).
Later documents further support this theory. In 1833 it is recorded that James Mangles rented part of the wharf at £36 per annum. After this his rent increased to £39-10s, and the Proprietors retained a house, the old garden and orchard together with a small wharf over and above the Land rented by Mangles (GMR 129/83/7). The old garden and orchard seem to be the one acre plot shown in the SW corner of the wharf. This arrangement may help to explain why there is a creek at Dapdune. This channel would have served the land retained by the Proprietors, thereby leading to the 'small wharf' mentioned in 1833.
The earliest account books may indicate when this arrangement came into being. In 1742 a new wharf is recorded at Dapdune. This continues to be accounted for separately in the 1740s. In 1746 tithe is paid for the 'two wharfs at Dapdon' (GMR 129/7/1, p. 61). The main area at Dapdune is leased out throughout much of its recorded history. It is uncertain exactly what the arrangement for this second wharf was, but it is possible it refers to a smaller feature in the creek. On its own the creek makes very little sense before the 19th century, yet it seems to be artificial.
There are other hints that the original dwelling house at Dapdune was not on the present site. In 1851 it is recorded that there is a 'messuage now used as a Carpenter's shop and store house' at a rent £1 per annum at Dapdune. Permission was given to convert part of this into a residence for 'an Overlooker or Workman' at a rent of 1/- per annum (GMR 129/83/1). Does the word 'messuage' imply it was once a dwelling that was converted to a store, or is the work used loosely here?
Another document in this series refers to an agreement between William Stevens and William Gale that enabled the latter to rent Dapdune Cottage for three years at a rent of £50 per annum. This allows Stevens to continue using the lower part of the garden on the NW of the house adjoining the timber wharf (GMR 129/83/2). The 6" Ordnance Survey map of 1873 (sheet xxiii) makes it quite clear that the building then called Dapdune Cottage is in the SW corner of the wharf. It even shows the plot marked off that Stevens wished to retain for himself. The old powder house of 1800 is now shown as 'Wharf Cottage', now so known as a result of the conversion to a residence allowed in 1851. Dapdune Cottage is near the site of the present Grade II Listed Building known now as 'The Rectory' (DoE list, Guildford 1/255).
From this it would seem that the 'cottage' referred to in early references to Dapdune was not Wharf Cottage. This latter building was little more than a storehouse until 1851 when it was converted into a cottage for an overseer on the Wharf. It was unlikely to have been used as a residence before this because it had been a powder store until at least 1800. This usage would have probably become gradually defunct after the creation of the Godalming Navigation allowed gunpowder to be stored at Stonebridge. This is seen by 1851 when it has become a carpenter's shop. There would appear to have been some further conversion of the buildings here in 1894 to accommodate the Edwards family.
The 1888 Sale Catalogue refers to a brick and tile cottage, a barn with a loft, a store, sawing sheds and a boat house at Dapdune (GMR 129/141/4). Of the other buildings at Dapdune, none are shown on the earliest 25" Ordnance survey maps. These buildings seem to have been built since 1914, but before 1934.
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6.3.10 St. Catherine's Lockhouse
This building is not shown on the map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13), but first appears on the Godalming Navigation map of 1834 (GMR 142/8/4). A lease and release dated February 1816 from Henry Austen of Shalford Park grants the Godalming Commissioners 30 rods of meadow near 'St. Catherine's Hill Sluice' on which a lock-keeper's cottage had been 'lately erected'. The house was in the occupation of Richard Faulkner, lock-keeper to the Commissioners (GMR 142/5/24). Faulkner had probably been lock-keeper since November 1806 when Thomas Boxall, the former lock-keeper, was dismissed for 'neglect of duty', following a series of complaints (GMR 142/1/2, p. 153). In April 1832 Thomas Baker was appointed lock-keeper following Faulkner's death, at a rate of 16/- a week and the use of 'St. Catherine's lock-house' (ibid, p. 281). By August 1849 he had been replaced by James Currier, who was later the wharfinger at Stonebridge for 25 years (GMR 142/1/3).
The tithe map for St. Nicholas Parish, Guildford (later Artington) of 1841 lists this as 'Riff Raff Cottage' (SRO), and gives it as the property of the 'Wey and Arun Commissioners'. It is thought that the ownership has been confused with the Godalming Navigation Commissioners. The cottage is also shown on the Ordnance Survey 6" map of 1873 (sheet xxxi). According to the Dapdune photographic archives, this cottage was rebuilt in 1909-10 (Dapdune Archives, photo P81).
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6.3.11 The wharf buildings at Stonebridge
Little is known about the cottage called 'Wharfinger' at Stonebridge Wharf. This was the wharfinger's cottage. The other cottages on the site, known as 3-4 Wharf Cottages, are much later, and may have had nothing to do directly with the wharf, being made long after the heyday of trade at this place.
The Godalming Navigation journals show that there was an active trade at Stonebridge from the earliest days of this waterway (GMR 142/2/1). However, as can be seen from Rocque's map of 1768, the wharf was situated further downstream from the later wharf. This moved onto the bend at the junction with the Wey and Arun Canal after 1816.
A building is shown on the wharf on the map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13), but this seems to be at the north end of the earlier wharf. However, this map is not great in detail, and can not be relied upon. The best evidence for the construction of the wharf house seems to come from the Godalming Commissioners minutes for February 1792 when it is recorded that Thomas Payne delivered an estimate for erecting a house and storehouse at Stonebridge (GMR 142/1/2, p. 63). The cottage is almost certainly shown on the plan of 1834, as are a number of other buildings, probably temporary sheds and workshops now gone (GMR 142/8/4). One possible survivor is the old gunpowder store, which may still survive on its original site. There is a building in this approximate position in 1834, and it would be expected that such a store would have been needed, considering the proximity of Chilworth Mills, possibly the most important gunpowder manufactory of its kind in England for nearly three centuries (Crocker 1990, 19). It is possible the storehouse mentioned in 1792 was this building.
In November 1858 an instruction was given to repair the oven in the 'Stonebridge Wharf House' (GMR 142/1/3).
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6.3.12 The barn at Godalming Wharf
This building appears to be shown in its present position on the Navigation map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13). The earliest map to show it clearly is the Godalming Navigation map of 1834 (GMR 142/8/4). On the plan of 1900, the barn seems to be marked as building number 15, a 'store barn' (GMR 142/8/5).
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Many of the bridges had to be built at the time of the original construction as part of the agreement with the local landowners. There are a few complaints of these not being put up as agreed, but in general most of the bridges, including the footbridges, had been completed by 1700. It seems that nearly all the earliest bridges were timber.
Many of the bridges rebuilt in brick and stone in the later 18th century were given date stones. These give useful information that is otherwise lost. Many of the simple brick bridges over the Navigation were built in the 1760s and 1770s. They remain little changed in many cases. Where major roads cross the Navigation, the bridges were taken into local council care and rebuilt. This has been undertaken largely between 1910 and 1935.
There are many bridges over the Navigation. These are given in a number of historic lists. Unfortunately many of these seem to have the odd omission, or are not dated. There were essentially three types of bridge, in descending order of importance, cart bridges, horse bridges and foot bridges. These names are largely self-explanatory. Most of the main roads over the Navigation were crossed by cart bridges.
During the wranglings over the construction of the Navigation, it is recorded that a number of bridges would be required. In 1654 it is recorded that two members of the Trigg family are owed £13-2-4d for 'work at the bridges' (GMR 129/45/33). A number of bridges are mentioned in the claims for damages against the Navigation in 1671. These include Stoke Bridge, 'Worsfields Bridge' [probably the bridge at Cartbridge], and Ham More Bridge [probably Black Boy Bridge] (Carter 1965, 104). John Sayle of Pyrford stated that the Navigation had cut through his lands, causing him to make a one and a half mile detour to reach them until 'a promised bridge is built' (ibid, p. 106). As his lands are associated with a meadow called Brushetts, just below Dodds Bridge, it might be assumed that either Dodd's or Murray's Bridge is referred to here.
Murray's Bridge may be referred to in an agreement made with Richard Royden in the 1650s. It seems that in order to get his permission to take the cut through his land belonging to 'Westhouse', it was necessary to promise to make him a bridge 'to get his team to and from his house' (Corke 1995, 23-24). This bridge is almost certainly Murray's Bridge near West House, but whether it was built at this time or after 1671 is not known.
The earliest list for which we have an approximate date is from c. 1748. This lists cart bridges at Thames Lock, Mannings Pool, Weybridge Long Bridge, Ham Walk Bridge, Weybridge Lock Bridge, Stile's Bridge (Black Boy), New Haw Bridge, Parvis Bridge, Board's Bridge (Murray's), Wilfords (Dodd's), Pyrford Lock, Ponslows (Pigeon House), Walsom, Newark, Papercourt, Send Heath (Cartbridge), Sutton (Send Church or Wareham's?), Twelve Oaks (Broad Oak), New Bridge (now lost, possibly below Bower's Lock), Bowers Bridge, Stoke Bridge and Woodbridge (GMR 129/63/10). The modern names are given after in brackets. It also gives four horse bridges at Walsham, Worsfold, Tanners and Newark Stream.
Other 18th century lists add High Bridge and Ashburtons at Send, and give Send Church Bridge and Wareham's Bridge separately. There were also two minor bridges between Triggs Lock and Worsfold called Prues Mead and Chamberland. These latter two seem to have been removed as part of the River Wey Improvement Scheme in the 1930s (Harry Stevens' Journal, p. 141).
The most useful list comes from a Thames lock-keeper's memorandum book. This gives a reasonably comprehensive list, but also states what the bridges were made of, and in some cases when the present bridge was built (usually rebuilt in brick). The only drawback with this list is it is quite late, dating from about 1850.
Table: early 19th century bridges on navigation (from GMR 129/79/1)
|Bridge name||Materials||Date rebuilt (in brick)|
|Woodbridge||Brick & stone, timber top|
|Stoke||Brick & stone, timber top||1768|
|Stoke Lock||Timber, old|
|Broad Oak||Timber, old|
|Send Church||Brick & stone, timber top|
|Cartbridge||Brick & stone, timber top|
|Highbridge||Timber, nearly new|
|Tanners||Brick & timber|
|Walsham Gates||Brick & timber||1785|
|Pigeon House||Brick & timber||1763|
|Dodd's||Brick & timber||1768|
|Sparkes (Murrays)||Brick & timber||1761|
|Parvis||Brick & timber||1760|
|New Haw Lock||Timber|
|New Haw backwater||Brick|
|Weybridge Lock||Brick & timber|
Rail Road Bridge in Long Reach built & to be kept in repair by committee of South Wester [sic] Rail Road.
* Black Boy Bridge is added by a later hand in pencil. It is clearly missed by accident.
There is a useful confirmation of one of the dates given in this list in the Navigation accounts. In July 1768 the bricklayer, Benjamin Reading is paid £12-6-11 1/2d for 'Building' Harris Bridge, as Dodd's Bridge was then known (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 7).
A number of these bridges were rebuilt after this list was compiled. Newark Road bridge seems to have been converted to brick by c. 1850 (GMR 129/105). Parvis is given new planking in 1869, Wareham's is rebuilt (evidentially still in timber) in 1871, and a new horse bridge is built just below Bower's Lock in 1875 following many years of complaint about the ferry here. Murray's and Pigeon House Bridges are both repaired in 1887. More new planking occurs at Stoke, Parvis and Broad Oak in 1889, and Ashburton Bridge is rebuilt in 1891 (GMR 129/111/1). The old Broad Oak Bridge was completely demolished in 1919 when a new structure was put up at the joint expenses of the Duke of Sutherland and the Navigation (Harry Stevens' Journal, p. 134).
The Stevens family records give the dates of the conversion of some of the bridges to concrete, and the date that the major road bridges were taken over by the council. Papercourt Lock bridge seems to have been an early candidate to have its abutments replaced in concrete. This occurred in 1869 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 12). In 1913 and again in 1925 Black Boy Bridge had to be raised. Cartbridge was taken over by the Council in 1914 (ibid, p. 13).
Stoke Bridge was completely rebuilt in 1911, probably prior to Council take-over. Woodbridge followed in 1912-13, being rebuilt and taken over by the County Council (op. cit., p. 44). Parvis Bridge was taken over by Chertsey Rural District Council in 1912 (op. cit., p. 40). Broad Oak Bridge was rebuilt in the 1920s in conjunction with the Sutton Estate. Godalming Bridge was widened on the downstream side in 1930.
Wareham's Bridge seems to have remained an antiquated old timber bridge for longer than most. It was rebuilt with concrete abutments in 1931, as can be seen from the date stone on the west side of the bridge. On the other side of Triggs Lock, Chamberland Bridge was rebuilt in 1921 some 130 yards upstream of its original position (Dapdune Archives W016.1/2). This was done 'owing to the difficulty of working around the point above in flood'. It was built of oak with concrete abutments 'up to ground level' (GMR 137/12/40, p. 58). This bridge has now been removed.
Bower's Bridge was rebuilt in 1928 (ibid, p. 61) and again in 1934, only to find itself defunct sixty years later when a new concrete bridge was built adjacent to it. The old road that it served to Burpham Court Farm has since fallen out of use.
The bridges above Woodbridge are infrequently recorded amongst the Navigation Records. In 1912 an agreement was made to widen Woodbridge prior to take over by the local council (Dapdune Archives, W039). Those in the town themselves have a well-known history (Renn 1974). The Town Bridge is shown on the town map of 1739, still having the original ford alongside from which the town takes its name (SRO Harris/Richardson map of Guildford). This bridge is first mentioned in 1201. The old bridge is recorded as having been 226 feet long but only 11 feet 4 inches wide. It had five arches, but the central arch needed to be altered in 1760 to allow barges to pass. It is said to have been rebuilt in brick at this date. A subscription of £1285-15-4d was raised in 1827 to widened the bridge (GMR 129/76/6). In 1900 floodwater swept timber under the arches and the central one collapsed, leading to a new iron bridge being erected (Renn 1974, 80-81).
Two other bridges have since been built in Guildford. Of these only Onslow Bridge can be considered historic at this present time. This was built in 1852 under the direction of William Hillier, 4th Earl of Onslow and High Steward of Guildford (Memorial Plaque on Onslow Bridge, Guildford). The others have been the consequence of the reorganisation of Guildford Town Centre since the 1960s.
Above Guildford there was a river crossing at Ferry Lane, under St.Catherine's Hill. Until recently, when a footbridge was put in, this was by ferry boat operated from the small hamlet beneath the hilltop chapel.
The bridge at Broadford is not shown on the map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13) or on Lindley's county map of 1793 (SRO). Before these dates the road crossed a tributary stream that was later canalised as the Wey and Arun Canal at Stonebridge, and continued along the east side of the Wey valley into Guildford. The first indication of a road crossing here is shown on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition 1" map of 1816 (sheet viii). It is shown again on the Godalming Navigation map of 1834 (GMR 142/8/4), indicating that it had come into being between 1793 and 1816.
The Commissioners' Minute Book confirms this. Although an estimate was received for building a bridge at Broadford in 1764 (GMR 142/1/1, p. 115), it was not until October 1792 that it is resolved that it should be built. In March 1793 the Commissioners ask for the position of the bridge to be fixed, and a reference to the bridge in September 1806 suggests that it had been put up by this date (GMR 142/1/2, pp. 73, 78, 152). Around the same time Thomas Carter complained that he was still waiting for his compensation for the road made across Shalford Common 13 years earlier (ie 1793) at the east end of Broadford Bridge. These indirect references suggest that the bridge had been built towards the end of 1793.
The next bridge is Unstead Bridge a few hundred metres above the Unstead Lock. This probably existed since the creation of the Godalming Navigation. It is shown on Rocque's map of 1768 (SRO).
Trower's bridge is not shown in 1768, nor on the Navigation map of 1782 (op. cit.). This was not on a public road, but led from the Old Portsmouth Road to the Trower's estate at Unsted [sic] Park. It is first shown on Lindley's map of 1793, and it can be assumed it probably came into being as part of late 18th century improvements to the park beyond. It has an ornamental look to it, although one assumes that the central of the five arches was cut out later to allow barges to pass more easily. This had already been done when C H J Clayton made his survey of the river in 1928 (GMR 1496/1).
The bridge over the Navigation below Catteshall Lock is shown on Rocque's map of 1768. As it crossed a new cut, one assumes that it had only recently been erected at this spot. It is possible there were other bridges nearby from medieval times as two bridges are mentioned near the mill in 1593 as being in a ruinous condition (Crocker & Crocker 1981, 4).
There was a swing bridge on the bend at Godalming Wharf in 1782 (GMR 129/143/13). Recent observations on the site by the Guildford Museum Archaeology Group (pers. comm.) noted footings for this bridge here recently. This was a very minor bridge that is not shown on any county maps. It had probably fallen out of use by early this century when the traffic to Godalming Wharf had declined.
The Commissioners' Minute Books show that the swing bridge had a very chequered history. It was resolved on July 8th 1778 to build this bridge (GMR 142/1/1, p. 413). By 1806 there is dissatisfaction over it, and it was minuted that it should be replaced by a fixed horse bridge (GMR 142/1/2, p. 152). This may not have been carried out because in 1859 it is recorded that the Swing Bridge at Godalming needs rebuilding. Once again, it is recommended that it is replaced with a fixed bridge, but it is not known if this was done.
Godalming Town Bridge marks the official end of the navigable waterway, although Clayton states in 1928 that Westbrook Leather Mill had been the original limit (GMR 1496/1). This bridge was originally owned by the lord of the manor, who used to keep it closed to the public except in times of flood. It needed an Act of Parliament in 1782 to make it free and open to the public. From hereon it was a County bridge repaired at public expense (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 605). It was widened on the downstream side in 1930 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 58).
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There were a number of wharves on the Navigations from an early date. Most owe their origin to the 1650s. At first the lengthsmen that looked after the river combined their duties with being wharfinger at the local wharf. Often these wharves are adjacent to the locks, although there are exceptions. From the 1760s the importance of many of the rural wharves declined, when the control of the river was transferred to purpose built lock-houses. However, trade continued on these sites, with local fluctuations, until the coming of the railways in the 1840s and 1850s. Hereafter they declined in use, the majority of the river's trade being concentrated at Godalming, Stonebridge, Guildford and the main corn mills, such as Coxes and Newark. Even these lost their trade over the course of the 20th century, and many of the sites have now disappeared under development.
There are still notable remains of the wharf buildings at Parvis Bridge, Dapdune and Stonebridge. The site at Dapdune has recently been restored as a visitor attraction.
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The early history of the wharves has been partly covered in section xxx, and need not be repeated here. From what has been said already, it would seem that there were early wharves on meadow called The Leas just to the north of Guildford, at Bowers Lock, and at New Haw. There was also an old established wharf at Ham Haw on the Thames, which was so close to the entrance to the Navigation that it must have been used by its traffic in the early days.
It was probably much to do with Pitson's way of obtaining land that led to a number of these early wharves declining in importance very quickly. For instance, the wharf at Bower's Lock is hardly mentioned again after the 1650s. It may have continued in being as an occasional loading place throughout the 18th century, but no direct mention of it has been found in the records examined. The next time it is specifically recorded is in 1826, when we are told that there is a timber wharf above the lock that is the private property of Lord Onslow, but it is in need of repair (GMR 129/107/1, p. 17). It can not be known for certain, but it is reasonable to suggest that Pitson lost control of this wharf, the land reverted to the original landowner. Scotcher's complaint of 1657 makes it clear that Pitson methods frequently left promises broken, and land unpaid for (SAS Collections PF/GFD/266). It is hardly surprising if some of his early wharves decline in importance after the 1660s.
By 1724 there are four main wharves on the Navigation. These were at New Haw, Sendheath, Dapdune and Guildford. There is no mention of the wharf at Pyrford at this date, although it can be suspected to exist at this time. There are a number of other wharves controlled by the Navigation at Woodbridge and Stoke, but these had fallen out of use by the later 18th century as Dapdune continued to grow in importance. There were also private wharves in this area in the 1650s and 1660s (Corke 1995, 37), but these seem to have either vanished, or had been taken over by the Navigation by 1724.
As well as these main wharves, it would seem that loading and unloading took place at all the locks. Some, like Triggs and Bowers, retained fields nearby specifically known as the wharf, but elsewhere this activity seems to have been largely as required without any formally designated wharves. As well as these a number of impromptu wharves sprang up along the river at the whim of private individuals. For example, there was a private wharf at Parvis Bridge c. 1800 (GMR 129/10/132), one of the few wharves to have survived until the present.
After 1760 there were wharves set up along the Godalming Navigation. The most important was at Godalming, but that at Stonebridge was, for a while, one of the most active on the river. As along the Wey Navigation, there were also some temporary wharves that appeared and disappeared as circumstances required. On the tithe map for Shalford of 1842, a large timber wharf is shown on the west bank below Tilthams House (SRO), on one of the few pieces of land still owned by the Navigation beyond the towpath. The Godalming Navigation journals record that in 1775 Mr William East's barge loaded with hay at 'Mr Shrubb's Mead' (GMR 142/2/1), a rare reference to unofficial loading and unloading that must have gone on unrecorded all along the banks.
Between 1764 and c. 1800, a number of temporary wharves were created in the Guildford area for the loading of chalk and lime from the numerous quarries in the area. There was one such wharf to the north of St. Catherine's Hill that served a chalk quarry there, and another on the site of the Guildford Rowing Club. There were numerous private wharves all along the banks where the Navigation passed through the town of Guildford. With the coming of the railways in the later 1840s many of the smaller unofficial rural wharves became defunct, and disappeared. A number of the private wharves in Guildford continued to operate into the present century, such as a timber wharf on the site of the old Weyside Square Leisure Centre (now being developed as an Odeon cinema complex), which was put up for sale in 1904 following the bankruptcy of the merchant (GMR 129/142/15).
For ease of reference this report will give a summary history of the wharves beginning at the Thames and working upstream.
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6.5.2 Ham Haw Wharf
There had been a wharf at Ham Haw in the medieval period long before the Navigation came into being. At this time, timber was carried here from the lands to the south of the Thames for shipment on to London. More recent research has identified a royal edict dating from 1395 that seems to relate to the transport of large timbers from far inland to Ham on their way to London. During the rebuilding of the great roof of Westminster Hall, one of the largest in Europe, it is ordered that,
'To the Sheriffs of Berkshire, Southampton and Surrey, strict order to cease every delay and excuse, and to appoint and purvey within his bailiwick in such places as he shall think meet thirty strong wains and sufficient horses and the harness and gear to the same belonging, and as many carters as shall be needful for driving them, causing them to come to their wains etc, to a place called the frame by Farnham for carriage of timber there wrought for the King's great hall within Westminster Palace, so that every such wain be ready... to carry five loads of timber from thence to Hamme...' (quoted in Price 1996, 7).
After the Navigation was constructed, it would have been more convenient for much of the trade coming here to go to nearer places such as New Haw Wharf. Nevertheless, the trade does not seem to have died immediately, but was a gradual thing, probably covering much of the 18th century. In 1745 this wharf was still rented as such from the Earl of Portmore (GMR 129/7/1, p. 61). By 1823 the former wharf cottage had been converted into a fishing hut, but was in ruins.
The site is now on private property, and it is not known if anything survives of the old wharf.
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6.5.3 Weybridge Wharf
This wharf occurs only intermittently in the records, and may have been little more that a temporary unloading place. There had been a wharf on the old river near Weybridge in 16th century (Vine 1986, 9), but it is unlikely that the later references had anything to do with this site.
A wharf is mentioned in 1774 when J Champane paid £24 for one year's rent (GMR 129/79/1), but there is no mention of where this might be. In 1843 Thomas Liberty applied to build a wharf immediately above Black Boy Bridge to serve a new saw mill he was proposing to erect (GMR 129/10/78). Although he was granted the right to 100 feet of bank for this purpose, by 1844 he had taken 206 feet (GMR 129/10/79). In 1888 he still had a wharf at Black Boy Bridge described as 'on a strip of land' in front of some cottages for which he paid a rent of £20-7-6d (GMR 129/141/4). This land was still leased to the saw mills in 1900 (Dapdune Archives W015), but it is not known when it fell out of use. It is unlikely that this wharf was on the same site as that of 1774. In view of the scanty evidence, little more can be said of the earlier site.
This site has recently been redeveloped as a new office block. There is no sign of any remains of the old saw mill wharf here.
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6.5.4 Coxes Mill
Although there was not an official wharf here, goods were unloaded at most of the locks throughout the Navigation's history. From 1777, there are records of a large amount of traffic being shipped from Coxes. One assumes these are iron goods coming from Raby's ironworks. On a number of occasions between 1777 and 1790 over 900 loads were handled at this lock in a single three month period. In the quarter ending December 1789, 1143 1/2 loads are recorded for Coxes (GMR 129/7/4a).
After the mill here converted to corn milling after 1829 there was a steady movement of corn and flour to and from the site until the late 1960s. Considering how unpopular the mill here seems to have been with Lord Portmore, one of the Proprietors, in the later 18th century, the Navigation obtained a large proportion of its overall trade from this site.
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6.5.5 New Haw Wharf
This was one of the most important early wharves on the Navigation. Pitson seems to have had buildings erected here within a short time of the completion of the Navigation. It probably diverted a lot of the trade that had previously gone to Ham Haw Wharf on the Thames. By the 1720s it was one of only four wharves on the Navigation to have its own wharfinger, and it continued to be important through most of the 18th century. The site is covered today by industrial development and housing.
With the completion of the Basingstoke Canal in 1794, it was feared that much of the trade at this wharf would be diverted onto wharves on that waterway. In a letter of 1795 John Granger, the Wey Agent, says that he does not consider it worth spending too much money on repairs to the wharf as he thought there would be 'little business' once the Basingstoke Canal was fully opened (GMR 129/13/6). Returns of loads handled at this wharf from 1775 until 1790 suggest that there was a much declined trade here at this time. By 1786, a lot of traffic seemed to be going slightly upriver to a wharf in Byfleet at Parvis Bridge. Pigeon House Wharf at Pyrford also consistently handled up to four times more loads than New Haw in this period (GMR 129/7/4a).
If trade on the wharf was declining at this time, there must have been a brief relief from Alex Raby's proposals to cash in on the demand in London for Surrey lime. In 1803 he applied for a licence to carry this material from New Haw to the Thames (GMR 129/48/5). Jago's map of 1823 shows two lime kilns on the wharf (op. cit). The lime was probably coming up river from the various quarries at Guildford, but by the 1820s the call for this was declining because of competition from elsewhere (GMR 129/13/56), and Raby had left the area. The 1826 survey records that the wharf here was an allotment of the Pyrford and Woodham Enclosure Act of 1806 (GMR 129/107/1, p. 6). With the coming of the railways to the area in the later 1840s what trade remained to the site must have rapidly declined. The wharf is not mentioned in the Sale Catalogue of 1888 (GMR 129/141/4), and what little trade it had may have migrated to the wharf at Black Boy Bridge.
Part of this wharf was destroyed in the 18th century when the cutting behind the Lock-house was made. Nevertheless, it must have been restructured, as it was still used as a wharf well after this, and had a number of buildings on it, including the two lime kilns. The site was later redeveloped, but has subsequently become derelict. There are no obvious traces of the wharf today, although it is expected that there should be some below ground survivals on the site.
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6.5.6 Parvis Bridge Wharf
Apart from Dapdune and Stonebridge Wharves, this is the only wharf on the Navigations to retain any of its original buildings in situ, yet, curiously, this site began its life as a private wharf. The building known as the 'Grist Mill' is shown on the 1823 map. In 1840 it is described as having been on the site for 'many years' (GMR 129/10/132). A sale notice of that date states that it is a granary and coal warehouse late in the occupation of James Yeowell, grocer, mealman and coal merchant.
It is probably these commodities that this wharf dealt in. From the records of loads taken to it, it seems to have been only a minor site before 1786. With the odd exceptional figure, the trade here seldom exceeds 60 loads per quarter between 1775 and 1786, but after this the loads seem to increase dramatically reaching over 500 loads per quarter on a number of occasions (GMR 129/7/4a). It is not known when the Navigation came to own this wharf. A deed exists for William Stevens III's purchase of the Grist Mill in 1903 (Dapdune Archives W218), but this did not include the land around it. One assumes that Stevens must have purchased the rest of the wharf either before this date or shortly after. The National Trust did not buy this building until 1986, although they already had possession of the land making up the wharf in 1983 (Dapdune Archives W172.1-4).
The survival of the wharf here is probably amongst the finest on the river. Both the Grist Mill, described in 1840 much as it is today, and a timber barn survives on the site. Sadly the buildings are rather dilapidated, being in the hands of a small engineering firm who leases the property. The site is not kept in good condition from a heritage viewpoint, and the use of welding equipment in the vicinity of the wooden barn could result in a fire. Considering this is the only small wharf to survive, and the only wharf on the entire river that seems to have retained all of its original buildings intact, it ought to be recommended that this site is taken back in hand before its condition deteriorates further.
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6.5.7 Pigeon House Wharf, Pyrford
No mention of Pigeon House Wharf has been found in the earlier Navigation documents, but the fact that there was a lock-keeper centred at Pyrford from the time of the earliest accounts in the 1720s seems to suggest he may have been stationed at the wharf. The earliest indication of a wharf here dates from the map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13). Earlier references to cargo being unloaded at Pyrford can not really be counted as there are references to unloading at all the locks. This does not always mean there was a proper wharf present. Besides the Pyrford Wharf is some few hundred metres upstream of the lock, and not strictly the same place. It appears to have been on the east bank, either side of Pigeon House Bridge. Most historic maps show at least one building here. The tithe map for Pyrford shows at least two, one probably a wharfinger's house, the other a warehouse (SRO). No building exists on the overgrown site today, and there are no above ground traces that a wharf ever existed here.
It is odd that as New Haw declined from the 1790s onwards, Pigeon House Wharf may have briefly grown in importance. Between 1775 and 1790 more goods were handled here than at any of the other old wharf sites north of Dapdune, with the possible exception of Sendheath. The trade at Pyrford far exceeded that at New Haw, although towards the end of the 1780s many goods seem to have been diverted to the more recent wharf at Parvis Bridge. It was not uncommon for Pigeon House Wharf to handle over 300 loads a quarter in the last quarter of the 18th century. In the quarter ending September 1775, 580 loads passed through this wharf. There were, nevertheless, occasional quiet periods, but these do not seem to have lasted long. In the quarter ending June 1776 only four loads are recorded, with a very reasonable 288 1/2 and 305 1/2 loads being listed in the quarters either side of this low point (GMR 129/7/4a).
By the early 19th century there appears to be two wharves adjoining Pigeon House Bridge, the 'upper loading place' and the 'lower loading place'. It is recorded in the 1826 survey that the lower wharf was in need of repair, as is the upper wharf. To carry out the latter repairs piles, planks and chalk would be required (GMR 129/107/1, p. 9). This record gives some idea of how the wharves were constructed. It would seem that piles were placed along the wharf front with planking fitted between the piles. Once this revetment was put in place, the bank behind was made up by chalk. The use of this latter material to make up the banks is frequently mentioned in the records, and has been observed in archaeological recording and on other maintenance occasions at Dapdune Wharf (Currie 1995; Vince Locatelli pers. comm.).
The wharves here are mentioned as being in better repair in 1843 (GMR 129/107/2). In 1845 the only wharves mentioned on the Navigation are Pigeon House, Newark, Send Heath, Dapdune and Guildford (GMR 129/107/3). There is no longer any mention of New Haw, although this may be because it had become a private wharf. However, Newark Wharf was a private wharf, but this was mentioned in 1845.
It is unlikely that it will ever be possible to draw too many definite conclusions about these wharves because of the frequent inconsistency of the records. Like so many of the other rural wharves, Pigeon House probably declined rapidly in importance after the coming of the railways in the later 1840s. Its isolation from an immediate railway track may have allowed it to carry on functioning longer than most, but it is not mentioned on the 1888 Sale Catalogue (GMR 129/141/4).
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6.5.8 Newark Wharf
Newark Wharf is first shown on the Navigation map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13). There is a hint in a letter of Ben Wetton in 1704 that a small wharf may have existed here at that date. In this letter there is mention of the fact that John Massy, the wharfinger at Sendheath, had not accounted any goods carried from Newark (GMR 129/44/38). It seems that Massy's excuse was that nothing was carried from that point in the year concerned.
Goods recorded being processed through Newark seem to have been of consistently moderate proportions through out the period 1775 to 1790. The average per quarter at this time seems to be about 100 loads, but quarterly loads more than 200 loads become common towards the end of the 1780s (GMR 129/7/4a).
This wharf seems to have been present largely to serve the mill there, as in the 1826 survey it is noted that the wharf here is the property of the proprietor of the mill (GMR 129/107/1, p. 12). It does not seem to be mentioned after the middle of the 19th century. The wharf site would seem to have been in the grounds of the mill which is currently private property. No obvious remains were seen of it.
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6.5.9 Send Wharf
It is probable that the present wharf at Send, known now as Cartbridge Wharf because of its proximity to Cartbridge, was not the original wharf. The older wharf seems to have been on Sendheath near Highbridge. Its site is presently taken up by a recently built housing estate.
This wharf was one of the more important rural wharves on the Navigation, and it had its own wharfinger from an early date. It served two important local settlements, Send and Old Woking. It was probably the need to serve the latter more effectively that led to a warehouse being set up on the other side of the river near Cartbridge, where there was easy access from Woking Mill. Exactly when the Send Wharves became divided is not known. In 1724 John Massy is mentioned as being paid £3-10-0d for a half year's salary as wharfinger at 'Sendheath' (GMR 129/7/1). An earlier letter of Ben Wetton of March 1704 mentions Massy's quarterly account from Sendheath, suggesting he was there at least from this earlier date (GMR 129/44/37). From 1724 until the building of the lock-house at Papercourt in 1766 (GMR 129/7/2, pp. 37-38), the wharfinger at Send was responsible for being the lengthsman between Worsfold and Newark. After this his importance declined, and the wharf gradually lost its importance on the river.
Little is known about the trade at Send until after its importance was over. It still retained a reasonable proportion of the rural trade in last quarter of the 18th century, dealing with roughly the same quantity of loads as other rural wharves at Pyrford, Newark and Triggs (GMR 129/7/4a). Even here there are hints that its importance was waning, as the recent private wharf at Parvis Bridge was often doing more trade than Send from 1786.
By 1782 the site had been divided between the 'Lower Loading Place' on Sendheath at High Bridge, and the 'Upper Loading Place' at Cartbridge on the other side of the river. The map of this date shows a building called 'Woking Warehouse' on the site of Cartbridge Wharf, and another called the 'Lug House' on Sendheath (GMR 129/143/13). In 1823 this latter building had gone, its site marked 'Scite of Old Carpenters Shop Called Lug House', although the ground nearer Highbridge was still marked 'Timber Wharf and Loading Place' (GMR X80/5). The mention of the 'old' carpenter's shop gives rise to the possibility that there was an early maintenance yard here. There was no trace of a wharf at Highbridge by 1872 (OS 6" sheet XVII).
It was probably the enclosure of Sendheath that sealed the fate of this wharf. In a letter of 16th March 1804 Stephen Chandler stated that the Proprietors have no rights on the old Sendheath side,
'neither have they any Buildings their [sic] on, the Warehouse at Sendheath is about Quarter of a Mile from the Loading Place and is on the Horse path side, the Commissioners have stumpt out the Wharf and loading place quite to the waters edge therefore they mean the Proprietors have no right to a Wharf without purching Sutton Green' (GMR 129/27/14).
Another letter from Chandler to George Stubbs, the Navigation solicitor, about the same time stated that the Commissioners were going to allow eight acres for the wharf, and it will be sold at auction on the 12th April. He reports that there is a large amount of timber on the wharf at the time, and that he hopes to see Stubbs at the auction. What the final outcome was is not known, but Highbridge wharf site does not appear to have be bought by the Navigation. According to the 1823 map, they seem to have only acquired the site of Cartbridge Wharf (GMR X80/5). From this it might be taken that the maintenance of a wharf at Highbridge was going to be increasingly difficult after 1804. It is surprising to find that it was still marked as a wharf at the time of the tithe map of 1844 (SRO Tithe map & award, Send and Ripley). It is possible the Proprietors continued to rent the land after 1804, but their ownership of Cartbridge Wharf seems to have made it inevitable that their operations here would have been transferred to the Cartbridge site.
Although little more is known about the wharf at Cartbridge, it would seem that ownership led to it being maintained longer than the other rural wharves. Its gradual conversion into a maintenance yard probably came after the coming of the railways after the 1840s took most of its trade away. The closing of Woking Corn Mill soon after 1851 (Stidder 1990, 124) probably hastened this process.
Nothing survives above ground of the 'Sendheath' wharf at Highbridge, the site having recently been built over by a housing estate. It is unfortunate that the opportunity to undertaken some archaeological work here was missed, as it is possible that some evidence for early buildings may have survived here. The Cartbridge Wharf has largely been concreted over, and the river frontage revetted in steel shutters. It is not known if earlier features survived beneath this, but there is presently no above ground evidence surviving on this site.
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6.5.10 Triggs Wharf
There are only a few direct mentions of this wharf in the records. It was on the west bank immediately below the lock, on an awkward shaped field that had only limited frontage to the Navigation. This suggests it was more a storage area than a busy wharf, as it is unlikely that more than two or three barges could tie up here at any one time comfortably. The site appears to have been used for loading in 1704, when it is recorded that it is expected that £1000 worth of timber will be taken off the Sutton estate of the Weston family. This timber was expected to be taken to 'Triggs Lock' where it was to be loaded for passage to London (GMR 129/44/38).
Triggs obviously started to become a more important site from the time that it started to have its own lock-keeper from the late 1740s (GMR 129/7/1), who could have acted as wharfinger. William Wisdom seems to be the first permanent employee stationed here. Loads handled here seem to have been inconsistent in the later 18th century, although there seems to be an increase in trade in the 1780s. Only occasionally do loads exceed 250 in any quarter (GMR 129/7/4a).
The site is shown on the 1782 map (op. cit.), and continues to be marked until the time of the tithe map for Sutton of 1848 (SRO). Like the other rural wharves the railways would have taken much of its trade after this date.
It is possible that because this wharf site was little more than a field alongside the Navigation, there was little to be seen even when it was in use. Today there are no visible remains, although there were doubtless revetting timbers along the timber that may have left buried archaeological traces.
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6.5.11 Bowers Wharf
The wharf here has already been discussed above in some detail. It is not necessary to repeat more than a summary here. A wharf was set up here by Pitson in the 1650s, and it may have been originally intended that it was to be an important site. Following Pitson's fall from grace little is heard about a wharf here, although it continues to appear as an unloading place on the various ledgers. It is not shown on the 1782 map, which shows most other features of note along the Navigation. In 1826 it is recorded as being a private wharf owned by Lord Onslow. It is mentioned between the Lock and Bowers Bridge, suggesting that this is where it is located, on the east bank (GMR 129/107/1, p. 17).
Records for quarterly loads in the period 1775-1790 suggest that the wharf here was a quiet place around this time. Whereas most places experience an increase in activity in the 1780s, at Bowers there even seems to be a falling off of goods handled here. Record of more than 100 loads per quarter are generally rare (GMR 129/7/4a).
It is a curious thing that the tithe map for Worplesdon of 1838 shows two fields with 'wharf' elements in their name some distance below the lock on the south bank (SRO). This seems to suggest that Pitson's old wharf may have been located differently from the wharf of 1826.
There is no visible trace of this wharf today.
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6.5.12 Dapdune Wharf
Although it is recorded that there were a number of other temporary wharves within the manor of Stoke, this wharf was, by far, the most important. It is possible to write a detailed report on this wharf alone, but only a summary of the main points will be made here.
After Pitson's apparent failure to establish a wharf just to the north of the old Friary gardens, the Navigation was forced to seek another out-of-town site at a convenient distance from Guildford to act as their main timber wharf. Dapdune appears to have been the nearest convenient site available. It is sited on the east bank just below a large bend in the river, possibly not the most ideal site, being subject to silting. The Navigation dates their official involvement here to an agreement made in 1671 with Thomas Dalmahoy whereby they obtained a 999 year lease at £20 per annum. It is highly likely that the site had been acting as a wharf for some years before this. A Nicholas Wally claimed to have been employed as wharfinger here from 1655 to 1671 (Carter 1965, 107).
The 'wharf' included a large area of adjoining land of around ten acres on which timber was laid out. Throughout much of its history, the bulk of the land was rented out to various parties interested in the timber or other trades connected with the Navigation. In 1704 continuous dry weather made conditions so favourable for transporting timber that the wharf became full. The Proprietors were forced to look for other fields in Stoke to rent to take the excess (GMR 129/44/38).
The first account book records that Dapdune had its own wharfinger. In 1724-25 this was William Newbury, who was also in charge of another wharf at Woodbridge rented from the Stoughton family, also at £20 per annum (GMR 129/7/1). The Woodbridge wharf was abandoned after 1730, and its functions presumably transferred to Dapdune.
The buildings on the wharf have already been discussed in some detail above. What has transpired from this that the main wharf was let out, the Navigation retaining Dapdune Cottage (on the site of the Rectory) for themselves, with a second 'small wharf' to serve them there. This wharf may have been the reason the enigmatic 'creek' exists, as a special cutting to serve the original Navigation offices. After 1851 the old powder house and workshop was converted into a cottage, and the wharfinger presumably lived there. Previously the wharfinger either lived at the 'double cottage' at the end of the creek, in the town or elsewhere nearby.
Although the site was clearly important, there were few buildings sited on it before the present century. As predominantly a timber wharf, it probably did not need very many. The earliest detailed map of 1800 seems to confirm this (GMR 129/29/54). Beyond the dwelling houses in the SW corner, there is only the powder house, a building over the 'sawpit' in the SE corner, and a building on the north side where the railway now runs.
All this is apparently confirmed by what little detail is to be had from other pre-1900 maps. The earliest map to show any detail at all is Rocque's map of 1768. This shows an extensive timber wharf, depicted by little pictures of piles of logs, covering an area far more than the other large wharves at Stonebridge and Godalming (SRO). It does not show the creek, but it does show the only building to be in the SW corner on the site of 'Dapdune Cottage' as it was known to distinguish it from 'Wharf Cottage', the old powder house. The area covered by timber extended well beyond the later railway almost as far as Woodbridge. By the time of the 1800 plan (op. cit.), this extent seems to have been diminished on the north side, but it is possible Rocque has got his prespective wrong here.
The 1782 map of the Navigation does little to add to this, except to mark the creek as a 'dock' (GMR 129/143/13). This is repeated on Jago's map of 1823 (GMR X80/7), which seems to show a further reduction of the area to the north since 1800. Jago also shows Dapdune Cottage and the acre around it clearly marked off as Navigation property, with the rest of the wharf a separate area of nearly 11 acres. The building shown on the north side of the 'Field next the Wharf' in 1800, is marked 'The Dog Kennel' in 1823, and in the hands of 'Cruzzie Esq'. A further building has been set up on the SE corner of this field.
There seems to have been a moderate amount of activity at Dapdune in the period 1775 to 1790. Over 300 loads per quarter pass through here on a regular basis, but the figures are nowhere near as great as those handled by Godalming and Guildford Wharves at this time (GMR 129/7/4a). This may be because Dapdune remained a specialist wharf dealing almost exclusively in timber. With the opening of the Godalming Navigation, a lot of the timber trade may have been diverted to Stonebridge and Godalming.
The leasing of the wharf seems to have had its own minor problems around this time. It seems that there was little question of the Navigation's right to operate there, but from time to time the larger area of land beyond the river frontage seems to have been treated differently at different times. In 1788 John Creuze [Cruzzie of the Jago plan] purchased the freehold of the estate on which the wharf stood. From hereon the rent was raised to £46 per year. The property was then purchased by James Mangles, who appears to have rented the property back from the Navigation for £36-8-0d until 1833. After this the rent rose to £39-10-0d, but the Navigation retained Dapdune Cottage, its old garden, and a 'small wharf over and above the Land rented by Mangles' (GMR 129/83/7).
It is not unknown for a landowner to rent his own land back from a long leaseholder, but it could not have been an entirely comfortable position. This is hinted at in a letter of November 1800 from James Briggs to George Stubbs, the Navigation solicitor.
'Dapdon Wharf is not fenced in i [sic] do not no who is to have it if it is not lett. Mssr Mathews & Mason ye Butchers would be very Glad to have it. Mr Talmadge have Ploughed & Seed'd the field but he have not Said anything to me about the wharf' (GMR 129/30/7).
It is possible that this letter was written during an uncertain time when the property was up for sale or in the process of changing owners. The meaning of the content is not entirely clear but it seems to demonstrate the precarious hold that the Proprietors of the Navigation must have felt they had on the place at times.
The earliest account books, presumably written before any change of ownership from the original parties involved in 1671, does not seem to express any uncertainty. Then, as later, the greater part of the wharf was let out. In 1740 John Street seems to take over at Dapdune from Newbury. Street is not referred to wharfinger as Newbury was, but is listed as 'keeping account & counting timber at Dapdune'. He seems to be paid more than Newbury, and also more than the wharfinger at Guildford. Is it possible that Street is acting as some sort of manager or agent, and that the headquarters of the Navigation has settled for the time being at Dapdune Cottage? In October 1740 he is paid an extra £1-8-0d for mending a timber jack, a new door and levelling the 'loading place', presumably at Dapdune (GMR 129/7/1, p. 46).
In 1742 another new development seems to have taken place. An 'E Russell' (probably a member of the Russel family of barge owners; Alan Wardle pers. comm.) is recorded as paying £6-10-0d for a half year's rent for the 'New Wharf' at Dapdune, and John Webb rents the 'Wharf Field' (GMR 129/7/1, p. 50). In 1745-46 E Horsnell is paying £20 per year for the 'Old Wharf', and Hannah and Catherine Russell rent the new wharf for £13 (ibid, p. 61). Other entries at various times refer to the 'Timber Wharf' and the 'New Wharf' as different features, but do not make it clear if the timber wharf and the old wharf are the same. Payment for tithes in 1746 refers to the 'two wharfs at Dapdon', so perhaps this clarifies things slightly.
Was the creation of the new wharf anything to do with the creek? Could the creek have been the original wharf, out of the main stream for easier loading and unloading? Where were the new and old wharves, and which is the present site, old or new? Did all this have anything to do with a shrinkage of wharf area apparently shown on Rocque's map? Was the one of the wharves perhaps sited further north in the 'Field next the Wharf', and the site was eventually abandoned by the time of the 1800 map? What part do the apparent docking timbers found on the site of early 20th-century Draw Dock by archaeology play in all this? These matters are all a puzzle, and demonstrate that Dapdune was a far more complex place in the early 18th century than after 1760, when it may have contracted in size.
Little is known about Dapdune between c. 1800 and the late 1890s when the Edwards family moved there. They went on to operate the Navigation barge building depot. They lived in Wharf Cottage. Dapdune Lea was said to have been built around 1894 by Stevens for a relation, Miss M J Stevens (Dapdune Archives W213). In 1905 the Stevens family bought out the freehold on the wharf (Dapdune Archives W215), thus making their tenure more certain. Around the same time John Stevens was acquiring the moiety on Dapdune House, as Dapdune Cottage had become known (Dapdune Archives W221/22). The deeds for this house confirm that this had been the main residence at the wharf before the 1890s. It is stated that it had 'formerly' been used to house an employee of the Navigation, possibly the wharfinger or manager, but from the 1850s it seems to have been let out to tenants. A Colonel Nicholetts was one of these tenants. After 1917 John Stevens seems to have handed the property over to William Stevens III (Dapdune Archives W222).
Further buildings were apparently not put up until the Great War. The demand for gunpowder at this time may have brought storage back to Dapdune, and led to the building of the Carbide Store. Gunpowder storage seems to have stopped here in the 19th century when the old powder house was converted into a workshop. This was probably connected with the creation of safer and more convenient storage at Stonebridge that did away with the need to carry the material around Guildford by road before 1760. The blacksmith's shop and present boat shed both appear after 1916, surely connected with the barge building industry. A smaller version of the boat shed first appears on the 1912 edition of the Ordnance Survey 25" map (sheet xxiii.16).
Dapdune Wharf is the best preserved of the old Navigation wharves. Most of the old buildings still survive in a modified form. Although the banks have been much repaired since 1964, recent archaeological works have revealed that there is still substantial amounts of buried archaeology of a high quality on the site (Currie 1995a, 1995b, 1996)
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6.5.13 Guildford Wharf
There were many private wharves in Guildford at various times during the Navigation's history. There is also the possibility of archaeological evidence of medieval wharfage for short distance carriage in the medieval period (Guildford Museum staff, pers. comm.). The main wharf, however, was that known as the Town or Meal Wharf.
It appears that William Dickenson acquired a house and yard in Friary Street c. 1662 (Corke 1995, 35) with a purpose of setting up a wharf in the town to handle the less bulky groceries it was intended to bring to the town via the Navigation. When the Act of 1671 was passed he claimed that this wharf had been in use since 1666, and had been used as a wharf before that time. It was held, curiously, of the manor of Poyle, and for most of the Navigation's history it was held on lease from Dickinson's successors to his title. There was another private wharf to the south, which was united with Dickinson's wharf by the Stevens' family. They bought the Town Wharf in 1873, and the other wharf called Elkin's Wharf in 1890 (Corke 1995, 35-36).
The original wharf was known as the Meal Wharf, because of the corn and other meal stored there. A lease of the property dated 1676 survives that records it as a messuage with yards, outbuildings, wharfhouses, sheds and other appurtenance situated 'in Priory Land' (GMR 129/63/11). The town map of 1739 calls it the Meal Wharf (SRO), as does the first account book in 1728 (GMR 129/7/1, p. 14). Henry Dean is the first wharfinger to be mentioned in the account books in the 1720s (ibid). Vine (1986, 253) suggests that he had been wharfinger there since at least 1707. In July 1733 he received a quarter's salary of £6-15-0d 'as a gift', presumably on his retirement (op. cit., p. 30).
In 1728 bricklayers, smiths and glaziers were set to doing work there costing nearly £40. In May 1731 Richard Coperthwaite and Roger Vallar are paid 8/6d and 11/4d respectively for 'Destroying Rats' on the wharf. Vallar is credited with killing 68. In April 1734 John Pantor is listed as the new wharfinger until 1755 when he is replaced by Jeremiah Bowyer (GMR 129/7/1, passim). In 1765 Bowyer become one of a number of employees 'discharged' that year during what must have been a reorganisation of the affairs of the Navigation (GMR 129/7/2, p. 30). Francis Ridgeway then took over until towards the end of 1769, when John Goring became the new wharfinger (GMR 129/7/3a). At the end of 1778 Thomas Bateman was made wharfinger (ibid). From hereon Vine (1986, 253) gives a complete list.
Meal was not the only item stored on this wharf. Virtually any groceries that could be brought into the town for consumption in some form or other ended up there at some time or other. A plan of the wharf dated 1776 shows buildings for storage of sugar, meal, bark, iron, and coal (GMR 129/10/122). A plan of 1873 shows many of the same buildings still standing, but with additional land incorporated into the NE corner. The specific storage areas listed here are for coal, salt, soda and corn. The old treadwheel crane that was re-erected on the site in 1970 is shown on the wharfside (GMR 129/10/130A). This crane is probably mentioned in 1764 when £3-11-6d is spent on a 'Crane Rope' for the Meal Wharf (GMR 129/7/2, p. 4). From 1890 the Stevens family was able to expand their interests at this wharf by the purchase of the old Friary Wharf to the south. This had previously been held by a local tradesman, Mr Elkins (Dapdune Archives W217).
As well as this wharf, the 'Wey and Arun Commissioners' are listed as having riverfront property in Guildford by St. Nicholas' Church, on the opposite bank to the Town Wharf. This was on the site of an island shown on the 1739 town map then called Bennets Island (SRO). The 'Wey and Arun' property is shown on the tithe map for St. Nicholas parish for 1841, but the designation may be a mistake as they are also shown owning parts of the Goldaming Navigation, and St. Catherine's Lock-house. Although no wharf is specifically mentioned here, on the river side there are two 'coal pens', a stone and slate yard, and a house yard and workshop (SRO Tithe map & award for St. Nicholas Parish, Guildford; later Artington). All would be the requirements for the Godalming Navigation's headquarters in Guildford at that time. They may have shared it with the Wey and Arun Commissioners, hence the designation.
As mentioned above, there were also a number of temporary wharves in the Guildford area serving the various chalk quarries around the town. The wharf on the site of the Guildford Rowing Club that served the main Guildford Chalk Quarry off Quarry Street had already been set up by December 1765, shortly after the opening of the Godalming Navigation (GMR 142/1/1, p. 162). Another wharf seems to have been set up around the same time at the St. Catherine's Hill Quarry a few hundred metres upstream. These were probably at their peak in the early 1800s. Most had ceased to operate before the railways came in the middle of the century.
The Meal Wharf site has been much redeveloped in recent years, and is now largely hidden under town centre buildings. The old treadwheel crane was re-erected on this site, and stands as a memorial to the old site.
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6.5.14 Stonebridge Wharf
This wharf is thought to have come into being with the creation of the Godalming Navigation after 1760. However, short distance navigation on the river above Guildford was known before 1760, and so it is possible that earlier activity could have taken place here. Stonebridge is shown clearly as a timber wharf on Rocque's map of 1768 (SRO). It appears to be located more to the north of the main area of the later wharf. As early as 1777 the wharf needed to be expanded because of the amount of timber being brought there. In this year Mr Davis, the wharfinger, reported that it would be necessary to expand the wharf into Mr Austen's adjoining field (GMR 142/1/1, p. 407). With the creation of the Wey and Arun Canal in 1816, it is possible that the focus of the wharf shifted slightly to be at the junction of the two waterways.
Although Rocque shows it was a timber wharf, and the early journals for the new navigation record much of this commodity being shipped from here (GMR 142/2/1), one of its more important functions must have been as a collecting point for gunpowder. Stonebridge was the nearest wharf to the important gunpowder mills at Chilworth. Previously this had been taken by cart around Guildford, and stored at Dapdune. The failure of Pitson to get a wharf established closer to the town had centred around the danger of storing this material near built-up areas (Corke 1995, 35). There seems to have been a building on the site of the gunpowder store at Stonebridge since at least 1834 (GMR 142/8/4). A wharf house and storehouse seem to have been built on the wharf soon after Febuary 1792 (GMR 142/1/2, p. 63).
Stonebridge became an even more important wharf with the opening of the Wey and Arun Canal in 1816. This canal failed to live up to its expectations. Trade was never better than modest even in the peak years of canal carriage in the 1830s, but, nevertheless, it increased Stonebridge's trade. In April 1859 it was recorded that the spindle on the crane 'at Shalford' was broken (GMR 142/1/3), suggesting that like the other busy wharves at Guildford and Godalming, Stonebridge had its own crane to aid loading and unloading. With the coming of the railways, the fate of the Wey and Arun was sealed. It rapidly declined from about 1850, and was finally closed in 1871 (Vine 1986, 191).
In April 1878, William Stevens II reported to the Commissioners the death of James Currier, who had been wharfinger at Stonebridge for 25 years. After some deliberation, Francis Currier was appointed to succeed him at a wage of 8/- a week, plus a house (GMR 142/1/4). By this time trade on the Godalming Navigation was in decline. The Wey Navigation still occasionally carried over 50,000 tons a year as late as the 1930s, although a 19th-century low of 24,581 tons was reached in 1890 (ibid, 258-60). By comparison the Godalming Navigation often carried less than 3000 tons a year in the late 19th century (op. cit., 210).
The gunpowder trade ceased in 1921, but trade to Stonebridge continued for a while with the building of the Vulcanised Fibre Works over part of the old wharf. Coal continued to be brought here by barge until 1946, but when this stopped there was no more trade from this wharf after 1950.
The site of Stonebridge Wharf is the next best preserved of the old wharf sites after Dapdune. Two of the old buildings survive in the Wharfinger's Cottage and the old gunpowder store. There were once many more outbuildings, but these have now gone. The northern part of the wharf has been redeveloped, and is now in private hands. It is possible that there could be good survival of buried archaeology of the remaining part owned by the National Trust.
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6.5.15 Godalming Wharf
As the terminal of the Godalming Navigation, there must have been an important wharf here from soon after 1760. The original site appears to have been of a considerable size, in the region of about ten acres. The earliest map to show a wharf here is that of Rocque, dated 1768 (SRO). This shows a much smaller timber wharf than that shown at Stonebridge, but the overall area was much the same as depicted on later maps. The map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13) shows an interesting feature opposite the wharf. An old bend in the river at this point had been straightened out between c. 1760 and 1782, leaving the old 'ox-bow' as an enclosed stretch of water, marked off for keeping fish.
This feature was called the Wharf Pond, and was described in June 1832 as 'where much filth and dirt have been for some time accumulating'. It is recommended that it should be filled in. By June 1833 this had been completed at a cost of £165-12-10d (GMR 142/1/2, pp. 285-92).
The trade on the opening of the new Navigation seems to have been very good. Godalming Wharf is consistently the busiest wharf along both the Godalming and the Wey Navigations in the period 1775 to 1790. It was not uncommon for over 2000 quarterly loads to pass through here at this time (GMR 129/7/4a).
There is an interesting old map of c. 1800 that shows a cutting off the west bank of the river known as 'Barkhouse Cut'. This obviously allowed barges to come in off the main river out the current to load closer to the storage areas. There was also a stonemason's yard here at this time, a commodity that people were not keen on moving large distances if it could be avoided. This Cut was filled at the same time as the Wharf Pond. Once filled in, a new landing place was made on the site for the use of George Marshall, the timber merchant and barge owner (GMR 142/1/2, p. 285-88). The map of 1834 shows little more than an indentation where the cut once was. It appears that the portion closest to the bridge was not considered part of the wharf (GMR 142/8/4). This was given in 1834 as Marshall's property, hence his desire to create a loading place adjacent.
By 1834, the wharf was probably one of the largest on the two Navigations. The map of that date (ibid) shows a considerable area, with a number of buildings, devoted to the commerce on the river. Most of these buildings were still standing, with a few minor additions, on a plan of 1900. Those that survived from 1834 include a corn store and stables, a cart house, two timber stores, pens for pipe, tile, coal, and slate, a store barn, a store and stable and an office. Added since 1834 was a weighbridge and its adjoining office, a hoop shed and an engine house (GMR 142/8/5). It is recorded in the Commissioners' Minute Book that a new wharfinger's house was built in 1876 (GMR 142/1/4).
Of these original buildings, only a barn right on the bend of the river survives. The rest of the site is now covered by car parks and supermarkets, having been extensively redeveloped. This has followed the sale of this land by the National Trust in the 1980s to help finance the preservation of the rest of the Navigation property (Dapdune Archives G063-071). More recently observations on the banks by the Guildford Museum Archaeology Unit noted the remains of the old swing bridge. It is therefore possible that the site still conceals significant buried archaeology, although much of this is now in private ownership.
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The tumbling-bays and weirs on the river fall into a number of categories, although there has been a tendency to call them all by the former name. There were originally four tumbling bays built on the river in the 1650s. These were all at the head of a major junction with the natural river, and were to aid water control. Since these were built a number of other weirs and bye-weirs, as by-pass channels around locks are often called, have been built. The majority of these take excess water around weirs. It does not seem that bye-weirs were an original feature of the locks, but a later addition to make water control easier. Most of the existing weirs have been rebuilt since the Flood Relief Schemes of the 1930s.
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When the Navigation was completed there was reported to be four tumbling bays on it. These were essentially weirs that were needed to control whether the main flow of water ran through the artificial cuts or the main river, according to the needs of navigation. Since the original construction, a number of other weir-like features have been built along the river that have often been referred to as 'tumbling bays'. The description could be argued to be not quite correct. For instance the spillways at Papercourt and Pyrford Locks are sometimes called tumbling bays. These are more strictly emergency spillways, as are most of the diversion channels around the locks. The position of the original four tumbling bays might be assumed to be at the head of major junctions between the old and new rivers.
These appear to be the Old Bucks Weir at Burpham, Broad Oaks Weir, Walsham Bay, and Bull Dogs Weir. One would also expect major weirs at the head of Stoke Cut, Worsfold Gates, and at Newark. The possible absence of early weirs at these points seems to have been covered by the sluices at the mills at Stoke, Woking and Newark. This seems to have been borne out by the fact that from the earliest days of the Navigation, the Proprietors had to pay the millers a fee to shut down their sluices. Therefore there was no need for weirs here as the river flow could be controlled by the mill sluices.
A series of documents connected with the Navigation's construction seems to confirm the position of the four tumbling bays as those given above. The bay near Thames is listed amongst the work that still needed paying for in 1654 (GMR 129/45/33). Old Bucks is recorded as causing flooding to adjoining meadows in the claims of 1671 (Carter 1965, 99). Walsham Bay and Bull Dogs Weir are also mentioned in this document (ibid, 101, 103).
After the original construction, a number of emergency spillways, or diversion channels, were constructed around the various locks to give greater control of the water. Some of these may have been original features, but they are not listed in 1651-54 as being amongst the engineering works required to complete the Navigation. Documents record the building of at least two of these spillway 'weirs', and from the relatively late date of these, it might be possible to suggest that the majority of the other lock diversions were not part of the original works in the 1650s.
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6.6.2 Thames Weir
The weir here was built in the 1930s as part of the River Wey Improvement Scheme. In the Dapdune Map Cabinet there is a plan dating from September 1930 showing the proposal for the weir (Plan A11). The 25" Ordnance Survey map of 1934 (sheet xi.11) shows that it had been completed by this date. Before this date, the finer control of water at Thames Lock was made through the sluices of Ham Mills, which was first built in 1691 (GMR 129/92/2). By an arrangement between miller and the Navigation, the mill was supposed to shut down its sluices when extra water was needed to allow barges to pass (GMR 129/67/2). Constant disagreement between the miller and the Navigation occurred over this agreement. Surrey County Council decided in the 1930s that a new weir was the only way of ensuring proper flood control on the river.
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6.6.3 Coulson's Bay
According to memorandum passing between navigation employees some half century after the supposed event, this weir had been put in by Jukes Coulson, tenant of Ham Mills. According to a document of 1854 extracted from old leases, Coulson had been at Ham between 1776 and 1808 (GMR 129/92/2), although these dates are given differently in later secondary sources. 'Colsons Bay' is marked on the Navigation map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13), but it is not shown on a Ham estate map of 1778 (SRO 83/1/13). This suggests the weir was built between 1778 and 1782. There may have been a smaller sluice here before this to take water out of a smaller ditch that existed in 1778.
The weir would appear to have been a brick structure from an early date. The survey of 1826 records that it needed a new brick course along its front edge (GMR 129/107/1, p. 3). The brickwork needed completely rebuilding in 1845, with a new horse bridge 'erected upon an improved principle' crossing over it (GMR 129/105). Further repairs to the brickwork were carried out in 1886 (GMR 129/111/1).
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6.6.4 Bull Dogs Weir
This is a late name for this structure. It is first shown on an estate map of Ham Manor dated 1732, when it is known as Portmore's Bay (SRO 180/2a). In its early days it seems to have doubled up as an ornamental cascade in Lord Portmore's elaborate formal gardens surrounding Ham Haw Mansion, hence its early name. The list of money owed for work dated August 1654 refers to work at Thames Lock and tumbling bay (GMR 129/45/33). Furthermore amongst the claims of 1671 was a claim that Sir George Ayscue had a tumbling bay cut on his land at Ham (Carter 1965, 103).
Lord Portmore obtained the property through his marriage to the Countess of Dorchester some time after the Navigation had been built. The house had previously been built by the Duke of Norfolk in the reign of Charles II (1660-1685). Evelyn described it in 1678, when he expressed his dismay that the Duke should have spent £10000 on such a 'miserable barren sandy place' (Cornford 1911, 476). In the circumstances, it seems that the original tumbling bay was later adapted to fit into the ornamental landscape.
This weir has had a chequered history, and has been much altered and repaired. In 1841 a new waste gate was put on the weir 'upon a new principle'. According to the Navigation records, the old one had been built in 1742 (GMR 129/79/1). During the dispute over Ham Mills between Flocktons and the Navigation in 1842-47, Flockton's men interfered with this weir putting up higher flashboards to divert more water to the mill (GMR 129/95/8-12). The old weir was gradually replaced by a concrete structure in the first half of the 20th century. In 1926 the timber apron on the weir tail was replaced in concrete, and more repairs were carried out in 1932 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 62).
There was another small cutting apparently by-passing Bull Dogs Weir comming off of the Navigation just below the junction of the two rivers. This is shown as a second 'cascade' in 1823 (GMR X80/2), and may have originally been another feature in the Portmore's designed landscape. Later a building was sited over it known as the 'Little Mill'. It is not known if this building served any purpose other than that of a dwelling house, although the possibility of some minor cottage industry milling taking place after the decay of the Portmore residence should not be overlooked.
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6.6.5 Weybridge Weir
Records of building Navigation structures can be extremely difficult documents to interpret correctly. They often give the impression of a complete rebuilding, or the creation of an entirely new structure that can be shown to be exaggerated from other sources. Thus, one needs to interpret a document that seems to suggest that Weybridge 'tumbling bay' was built from new in 1766 with caution. In this year William Harris was paid for bricks and lime 'for the Tumbling Bay at Weybridge Lock', with Benjamin and William Reading carrying out the work (GMR 129/7/2, pp. 37-40). This document could be no recording more than the rebuilding of an existing weir in brick.
There is no mention of any work being done there in the 1670s, when there are detailed records of works being carried out on Weybridge Lock (GMR 129/62/9).
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6.6.6 The weir at Coxes Lock
There is no definite way of knowing when this was first built. Was it put in when the mill pond and its associated sluices were constructed in the 1770s? It existed by 1800, as there is a bridge over a tumbling bay marked on the plan of Coxes Lock of that date (GMR 129/29/59). It is not mentioned in the detailed accounts of work carried out on Coxes Lock in 1770, although this would have been a useful time to have had a diversion around the lock (GMR 129/79/1). The Navigation map of 1782 suggests that it may have been in existence at this date (GMR 129/143/13). In 1822 a letter from Jago, the surveyor who made the 1823 map, reports on the dimensions of Coxes 'Tumbling Bay'. He states that the bay is 78 feet in length, and the distance from the end of the mill pond to the end of the weir is 822 feet (GMR 129/14/10).
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6.6.7 New Haw Tumbling Bay
There is reasonable certainty about the date of the building of the weir at the head of the diversion around New Haw Lock. In the accounts for 1764, it is clearly state that John Pannel and partners were paid £3-4-9d 'in full for diging ye Cutt for Tumbling Bay or Wash at New Haw' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 8). A few months later William Harris is paid £31-1-0d 'in full for Bricks and Lime to the Wash at Newhaw' (ibid, p.10). Slightly later again, James Johnson and Benjamin Reading are paid for bricklayers' work 'done at the Wash at Newhaw' (op. cit.).
This would seem to suggest that this work was done as part of the major reorganisation of the Navigation that seems to have taken place during the years 1764-66. Throughout this report, it will be noticed that new works and a significant change in staff was carried out at this time. The catalyst for this must have been the opening of the Godalming Navigation c. 1764.
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6.6.8 Spillway at Pyrford Lock
This is currently a narrow concrete channel on the west side of the lock. It has all the appearances of being modern, but it may have replaced an earlier structure. It is not shown on the Navigation map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13), or on Jago's map of 1823 (GMR X80/4). The latter is usually detailed enough to show such structures if they existed.
The idea of making such a feature may have been put forward in 1796 by William Alladay. He suggests that whilst Walsham Bay is being repaired he should be allowed to take a cut around Pyrford Lock to enable the river to continue in use without the customary stoppage needed when Walsham Bay was repaired (GMR 129/22/12). Alladay asked for the Proprietors to write to him with instructions if they wished him to proceed. As no letter seems to have been forthcoming, and there is no other evidence for this feature being created at this time, the work may not have been carried out. As late as the 1872 Ordnance Survey 6" map (sheet xvii) there is no sign that this feature had been put in to date.
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6.6.9 Walsham Bay
Walsham Bay is mentioned by name in a number of early Navigation documents dating from 1671 or earlier (Carter 1965, 104-05; GMR 129/63/7). In 1671 Henry Allen, the miller of Newark claimed £33 for labour 'in taking care of the tumbling bay called Walsham Bay' (Carter 1965, 101).
There are a number of references to repairs to it in the 18th century. These caused the flooding of Walsham Meadow resulting in the Proprietors having to pay frequent compensation. One of the earliest references to repairs is in 1705 when the apron at Walsham Bay was mended (GMR 129/44/55).
In 1773 the carpenter, James Dean, was paid £51-10-0d for rebuilding Walsham Bay, with a further £10 being paid as compensation to the landowners of Walsham Meadow for flood damage (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 62). The Bay needed repair again in 1796. In this year, the master carpenter, Stephen Chandler, reported that the men working on repairs at Walsham 'have been very Attentive to Their work & According to your Desire have Imploid more Carpenters & Labourers. i Expect to Finnish The Work so as to Take Out the Beys on Thursday ye 9th instant....it will be too Days Stopage'(GMR 129/22/21).
The survey of 1775 records that the tumbling bay here is of four gates, with a timber bridge a little below it (GMR 129/74). The survey of 1826 refers to Walsham 'Gates' separately. The 'Tumbling Bay' is described as being made of wood and in a weak condition (GMR 129/107/1, p. 10). There was a major rebuilding of this structure in 1837, when it was part rebuilt in brick (GMR 129/136/5). More repairs were carried out in 1861 (GMR 129/111/1).
The present structure contains evidence of further rebuilding in 1884 and 1931. The middle set of gates is made of iron, with four bays and iron winding gear. They are date stamped 'Jesse Stone 1884'. In 1931 the gates were extended to the east as part of the River Wey Improvement Scheme. On this side of the 1884 gates, is a set of green iron gates stamped 'Ransomes & Rapier Ltd Ipswich England 1931'. These gates were made by Frodingham Iron and Steel Ltd, and are of three bays (pers. obs.).
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6.6.10 Newark Weirs
There are a number of weirs at Newark, but the fact that the Navigation had to pay the Newark miller for use of his sluices to control water suggests that originally the control of water was through the mill.
There is a 'weir' of sorts at the head of the Eel Trap Stream. This has been adapted to make a very neat and effective eel trap based on the rack principle. The structure is date stamped '1818', but it is generally reputed that it is on the site of a medieval fish trap. There is no direct evidence for this, the claim being an assumption based on the proximity of Newark Priory. The map of 1782 shows a 'tumbling bay' marked where the Eel Trap Stream now stands (GMR 129/143/13), suggesting that there was at least a weir there at this date, but how it relates to any earlier arrangements is not known.
The more recent weir nearby, with the roofed structure over the bridge along its top, was built in the 1930s as part of the River Wey Improvement Scheme to help alleviate flooding.
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6.6.11 Papercourt Lock Weir
Like New Haw, there is clear evidence that this was not an original structure. In the 1780s a plan was evolved to move the position of the old lock at Papercourt. This is shown in its embryonic stage on the map of 1782, which shows the proposed new cutting as a diversion marked 'Intended Canal' (GMR 129/143/13). The new proposals are shown on a plan attached to a deed purchasing the land to make the new cutting, dated 1781 (GMR 129/10/38). These indicate that the present weir has taken over the position of the old lock. The situation remains exactly the same today. The Proprietors had a choice of filling the old cut in, or using it as a spillway weir to take excess water away from the new lock. As it seems that most of the locks were being given weirs around this time, their choice was easy. It is possible that the entire project arose out of a desire to have a diversion weir around the lock, and that it was felt that if a new channel had to be dug anyway, the opportunity might as well be taken to move the lock to a slightly more favourable position.
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6.6.12 Worsfold Weir
There is a small weir running water into a carrier alongside the Navigation at Worsfold. That the Navigation had to pay money to the millers of Woking Mill shows that the mill sluices were the main water control on this stretch of water. The weir at Worsfold is not shown in 1782, but the small carrier it feeds can be seen. In 1823, this carrier is marked as a 'trunk' (GMR X80/5). It seems that the arrangement to allow water back into the Navigation is fairly recent.
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6.6.13 Trigg's Lock spillway
There is a narrow concrete spillway at Triggs, similar to the one at Pyrford. There is no mention of it in the historical records of the Navigation.
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6.6.14 Broad Oaks Weir
This was probably the site of one of the original four tumbling bays built in the 1650s. It has a curious double arrangement with a diversion channel going around the main weir on the bend of the Navigation. This is not shown on the maps of 1782 or 1823, and may therefore be part of 1930s flood relief schemes.
The main weir was rebuilt in concrete in 1911 (GMR 137/12/40, p. 8), but is seldom mentioned before this date.
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6.6.15 Bowers Lock Weir
On the Navigation maps of 1782 and 1823 the only cutting shown at Bowers fed the mill. Logically, whilst the mill sluices operated here, there would seem to be no need for a second cutting with a weir. This situation seems to have remained in effect until some time after the mill was closed in 1910. Clayton does not mention any weir here in his survey of 1928, merely stating that the 'Sluice Way to disused Bowers Mill is stopped up preventing any discharge' (GMR 1496/1, p. 6). It would seem that this weir was put in as part of the 1930s River Wey Improvement Scheme.
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6.6.16 Old Bucks Weir, Burpham
This was probably the site of one of the original four tumbling bays built in the 1650s. It is recorded as being responsible for flooding adjoining meadows before 1671 (Carter 1965, 99). It is shown on the maps of 1782 and 1823, but seldom recorded in the Navigation records. Clayton notes that there are two weirs here in 1928, both having a length of eleven feet, with three sluice gates in each. Flashboards of ten inches existed then to retain the head of water in the Navigation to the required level (GMR 1496/1, p. 6).
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6.6.17 Millmead Weir
Apart from the sluices at Stoke Mill, there was a long stretch of river between Guildford and Burpham without any substantial water control devices. The weir at Millmead would have been required to assist Millmead Lock in working efficiently, but it appears that it was already in existence in 1739 (SRO 1739 map of Guildford). According to Alexander (1977, 92, fig. 1) there was a fulling mill here in the medieval period known as the 'Upper Fulling Mill'. The weir seems to have survived after the mill was removed at some time between c. 1613-50 (ibid, 93). It would seem to have been modified in the 1760s, following the creation of the Godalming Navigation. The map of 1834 seems to suggest that it was then a double weir (GMR 142/8/4), no doubt this being a result of it having been a former mill site.
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6.6.18 Guildford Meads Weir
A Ransomes and Rapier's weir exists here with a date stamp '1938'. This structure seems to have been put in as part of the flood relief schemes in the 1930s.
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6.6.19 St.Catherine's Lock Weir
This is another weir similar, but smaller, to that at Guildford Meads. Its present structure suggests a 1930s date. When Clayton made his survey of the river in 1928, he stated categorically that there was no way of releasing pent up water behind St. Catherine's Lock at this time (GMR 1496/1, p. 36). From this it seems that the diversion around this lock was built in the 1930s as part of the River Wey Improvement Scheme.
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6.6.20 Riff Raffs Weir
The present structure has the appearance of being the work of 1930s flood relief works. The weir is shown on the 1834 map (GMR 142/8/4), but curiously not on that of 1782. One must assume that the latter omission is a mistake, as it is difficult to imagine how the Navigation could function without a weir here.
In its early days, it seems that this bay was known as St. Catherine's Sluice. When the lock-house is reported as being recently erected in 1816, it is said to be 'near the St Catherine Hill Sluice' (GMR 142/5/24).
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6.6.21 Unstead Lock Weir
This weir is not shown in 1782, but it is to be found on the 1834 map (GMR 129/143/13). There is little that can be found out about it in the records. The Commissioners' Minute Book records in June 1766 that they need to treat with John Balchin over making a tumbling bay in his meadow at Unstead (GMR 142/1/1, p. 173). It is not certain whether this reference refers to the sluices at Unstead Lock, or the tumbling bay proper at Tilthams. The latter was known historically as 'Unstead Sluices' (see below).
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6.6.22 Tilthams Weir
Shown as 'Unstead Sluices' in 1782, this weir would have been needed to enable the Godalming Navigation to function properly. It was probably built in the 1760s; the reference given above under the heading 'Unstead Lock Weir' may refer to the weir now known as Tilthams. In August 1777 Farmer Street complained that too much water had come down onto his land 'through Unstead Sluices'. It was agreed that the 'Ground gates' should be shut down except in times of flood (ibid, p. 406-07). The present structure is much later.
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6.6.23 Catteshall Mill Weirs
There are weirs in association with the old mills here. It is not considered necessary to report on them under this section, as it should be obvious that there would be sluices controlling water at a mill site. The Navigation shared water with these mills, and like on many of the mill sites along the river, would have required the millers to co-operate in the control of their sluices to enable the locks to function efficiently. It would seem that some changes were made to the arrangement of weirs above the mill site in the 1930s as part of the flood relief schemes.
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The 'trunks' were culverts through the banks of the Navigation carrying water into the meadows beyond. For the most part they were cut by the local landowners to flood watermeadows after 1653, although there are important exceptions. For example, the 'decoy trunk' at Pyrford seems to have been made to supply a duck decoy. When an inquiry into the right to take water was made in the 1780s, the exact origin of the 'trunks' was already lost. No further trunks appear to have been allowed after this time. Over the course of the present century many have been abandoned as the water meadows fell out of use.
The original trunks appear to have been made from wood, and needed regular replacement. Those that are still used to the present day have been replaced in brick, such as the one on the south side of Dodd's Bridge.
It is difficult to separate the functions of drainage with the supply of water to watermeadows in the Wey valley. This section is largely concerned with the construction of drains connected with the Navigation. The more important of these were referred to as 'trunks', and they served a variety of purposes, including the flooding of watermeadows. This was not their only purpose, and the condition of the meadow lands adjoining the Wey has been dealt with elsewhere. The purpose of this section is to describe the system of waterways and drains connected with the Navigation, and their effect on its operation.
According to the Navigation records the artificial cuts were supposed to have a parallel ditch on each side of the banks to assist in the operation of the waterway, but that many landowners had refused to co-operate in this. The only place where parallel ditches exist on both sides of the Navigation is along the section known as the Long Reach. This situation probably existed because the channel here passes through a long stretch of common land, and the taking of land for the ditches was not opposed. There is also a long parallel ditch on the west side of the artificial cut that runs through Sir Richard Weston's former estate at Sutton. One would expect this on the lands of the chief instigator of the scheme. In many other respects the failure of the Proprietors to prevent meadow lands being improperly flooded was often the fault of the short-sightedness of the adjoining landowners.
Once the Navigation was formed, many landowners did their best to take advantage of it by building 'trunks'. These came in a variety of forms. Some were simple culverts cut into the bank to take water from the river. Others performed a more complex function of taking streams under the artificial cut to the other side. No-one has seriously attempted to explain why the latter function was necessary. One would have thought that the constant complaint that there was never enough water in the river to allow the locks and mills to function would have allowed this water to be emptied into the river. As, in some cases, it wasn't, one must assume that, when the Navigation was being built, certain local landowners felt their interests were threatened by any changes to the status quo.
The most obvious example of this type of trunk was the stream that left the Shire Ponds near Woking Heath. This is shown on the map of 1782 as extending from this very large pond to cross the western bank of the Navigation half-way along the Long Reach. On the east side, it seems to link up with the southern end of the 'Reef Trunk', a ditch running parallel with the east bank of the Navigation. The Shire Trunk then continues to cross Byfleet Common to join up with the old river (GMR 129/143/13).
The 1782 map shows most of the main trunks connected with the river at this time. There are 18 trunks marked on this map, if one excludes Sir Richard Weston's 'Flowing River'. However, this definition is not strictly accurate as there are some trunks that seem to have been set up with other purposes in mind. That they also flooded meadows may have been an afterthought in some cases.
By the later 1780s the Proprietors were beginning to become concerned about loss of water through the trunks. They asked their advisors to prepare case papers advising them on the legality of these features. These papers concentrate on six specific trunks that seem to be the main cause of concern. They are all on the last major artificial cutting before the Thames is reached. The six trunks are all situated at the southern end of this section between Walsham and New Haw Lock. They are the 'Decoy Trunk' at Pigeon house Bridge, another near Dodd's Bridge, 'Westhouse Trunk' near Murray's Bridge, Stringham's Trunk near Parvis Bridge, the 'Wreath' or 'Reef' Trunk, and New Haw Trunk by the lock of the same name.
The trunks are described in detail, giving as a clear picture of what they were and how they operated. Decoy Trunk was made of wood 19 1/2 inches wide and 16 inches deep. It was laid under the bank two feet nine inches below the level of the Navigation. It is stated that it frequently caused a lack of water at Pyrford Lock. The next trunk near Dodd's Bridge was under the east bank, and made of wood. It is 14 inches deep, twelve inches wide, and 18 inches below the level of the Navigation. 'Westhouse Trunk' was under the east bank. It was of wood, eleven inches deep and the same wide, and 16 inches below the level of the Navigation. Stringham's Trunk was of brick and beneath the east bank. It is 13 inches wide, eleven and a half inches 'high', and two feet below the level of the Navigation. Wreath Trunk was of wood, eleven inches wide, ten and a half inches deep, and 30 inches below the level of the Navigation. Finally New Haw Trunk was of wood, eleven by ten inches, and two feet nine inches below the level of the river.
The papers state that these trunks were made for the purpose of 'flowing' land (ie watermeadows), but that they also took water through other lands more distant from the Navigation. Some landowners took a payment from other landowners for this water, and it was not returned to the Navigation. There is no evidence that the Proprietors had ever disputed the right to take this water, but because the water could not have existed before the Navigation was built, they had the right to restrict its use (GMR 129/39/16).
There are a number of other documents around this time about the trunks that reflect the concern they were causing. A document of c. 1786-87 lists twenty-two trunks. The list is given in full below. Many of these features are shown on the 1782 map.
Another list about the same date gives 25 trunks. Numbers 12-17 are missing from the list, and it seems that it was here that the additional trunks were to be found. Only the first eleven of both lists are the same, but most of the 22 trunks given above can be found in the second list. The second list gives some additional information. It states that Westhouse Trunk has been recently reinstated by the 'inhabitant' of West House, and that the brick arch of Stringham's Trunk was broken through in 1785. It also mentions that the trunk in Long Reach is called 'Ye Arive' but nobody knows why it had this name (GMR 129/49/4).
Around 1785-86 the Proprietors further seem to have made some attempts to make sure that the trunks did not waste water unnecessarily. In June 1786 repairs were done to the trunks causing the main concern. In most cases this involved them being relaid. The work seems to have been done by the landowner who would benefit most from the feature, but a Navigation employee was sent to supervise the work.
On June 6th 1786 the Reef Trunk 'Claimed by Mr Hooker was put in by Him with ye Assistance of his own Servant Jam Baker & A Labouring man Employed Chiefly of late by the said Hooker.....Lowering the above trunk which was placed 15 1/4 [inches?] from the Head on ye 10th it was Lowered to 18 1/2 which was 3 1/4 more than first placed'. This seems to suggest that the first laying had not been deep enough to work the trunk, and it had to be lowered further.
'The Trunk at Newhaw Claimed by Wm Hamson was put in 1-9 feet below ye Head on Thursday 8th June cutting ye Bank... came the Master... with Leavers to strike the said trunk into ye Place cutt for ye same & assisted the Men to temper ye Clay'. Later they had to dig up the trunk to lower it further. A number of other trunks are mentioned as being replaced between 1784 and 1786 (GMR 129/49/1).
In 1798 Stephen Chandler, the Master Carpenter, sent a memorandum to the Proprietors regarding the Decoy Trunk at Pyrford. This seems to have fed the Decoy Pond near the Wisley boundary mentioned by Evelyn in 1681 (Powell 1911, 432), although it may have also flooded meadows on the way. Chandler reported that Lord Onslow occasionally repaired the trunk at his own expense. However, Onslow claimed that he had an 'Ancient Deed' that stated that the Proprietors were due to repair it. So that the trunk 'should continue its Original course for the Purpose of Draining the Lands', Onslow's steward states that he has no objection to finding the timber. In the end the matter was resolved by both parties agreeing to share the cost of the labour (GMR 129/78).
After this the trunks largely fade from the records. Some of them are mentioned as 'ancient' features in the surveys carried out between 1826 and 1858 (GMR 129/107/1-4), but the Proprietors' interest in them seems to have declined hereafter, and they are seldom mentioned. A number of the ditches served from these trunks can still be traced, and work has clearly been carried out on them, but it does not seem to have been recorded. For example the former wooden trunk of the 1780s just above Dodd's Bridge can now be seen to be a brick feature. It is not known when the old wooden pipe was replaced by a brick culvert.
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This section deals with the non-industrial uses that were made of the 'landscape' adjoining the Navigation. This was essentially meadowland stretching to the edge of the flood plain used for hay production and pasture. The flooding of meadows was intimately connected with the origins of the Navigation, but by the 20th century land drainage had become badly neglected in some areas.
There were other lesser land uses recorded. In particular there were a number of areas of woodland within the flood plain. These were mainly small, often being little more than odd corners of wet land allowed to grow into small withy or alder copses, although larger areas of oak woodland were known in Sutton Park and at Old Wood near West Hall. Occasional records tell how even alders and willows growing on the towpath were exploited for coppice wood right into the present century. The records also remind the reader of the importance of freshwater fishing and fowling within the river valley. Fresh fish from the Navigation were given as prestigious gifts by the Proprietors to their peers.
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Sir Richard Weston's schemes to construct the 'flowing river' to irrigate his meadows on the Sutton estate is one of the earliest recorded watermeadow schemes on a large scale to be carried out in England. It has already been mentioned that initially this scheme considerably increased the value of his meadowland. How far this situation continued after the construction of the Navigation is not exactly known. One must guess that Sir Richard took some care not to ruin his work, and he would have been in an excellent position to ensure this. However, not all the landowners along the Navigation benefited from the construction. As has been seen above there were many complaints about the Navigation worsening the drainage of some of the lands adjoining.
Human nature is such that the documents seldom record satisfaction with a turn of events. There may well have been many landowners who benefited from the presence of the Navigation as a source of irrigation to their meadows. Farmers are unlikely to record such things, as the outcome would probably have been a bill for the use of the water. Therefore, the records of how the Navigation affected the adjoining meadow lands are bound to be biased. There are numerous complaints about the Navigation harming meadow, but virtually no record about the benefits it may have brought to some landowners.
The most detailed list of these complaints was made in 1671, when some 87 claims were made on the new Navigation, around 90% of them being for spoiling meadowland (Carter 1965). A typical example is a claim made by John Sayle of Pyrford. He claimed that about 1660 the river broke its banks flooding his meadow in Pyrford called Brushetts, and bringing with it 200 loads of gravel, sand and mud (ibid., 106). A possible example of local landowners being prone to make complaint, but being unwilling to concede any benefit is a claim made by Henry Stoughton in 1671. He claims £132 for losses and £22 per annum for the future on three acres of meadow called Woodbridge Mead and three acres of land called Sandy Fields, 'now used as a wharf'. It seems that he complained that bargemen and their horses and flooding have damaged these fields, but makes no mention of the extra income he would have received from hiring his land as a wharf (op. cit., 106). Blaming bargemen and their horses for damaging a field that he has set up as a wharf is a complaint hard to take seriously, but Stoughton is clearly intent on milking the Navigation Proprietors for every penny he can get.
It is on the lands adjoining the embanked cuts where unwanted flooding of meadows would have occurred most frequently. One of the best records of the harm done to meadowland can be found in Clayton's report to the County Council of 1928 (GMR 1496/1). It should be noted that this document dates from a time when not only the Navigation was beginning to be run down, but also the use of meadow land adjoining. In this respect, the document may be an unfair assessment of the affect of the Navigation on meadow land.
One of the most notable areas where meadow land was harmfully influenced by the Navigation was between Pyrford and Walsham. The east bank is embanked, and the meadows are generally at a lower level than the cut. Clayton records that there was some percolation through the banks at this point, and considering that there had been little rain, he felt that the adjacent lands were decidedly 'soggy' (ibid, p. 4). Slightly upstream Walsham Common Meadow was a frequent place where damage occurred, particularly during repairs to the weir or lock at Walsham. In 1773 the landowners in Walsham meadow were paid £10 for damage caused by flooding while Walsham Bay was being repaired (GMR 129/79/1). In 1799 a barge sank at Walsham as a result of a drunken bargeman. The blockage caused Walsham Meadow to flood, with the result that further compensation had to be paid (GMR 129/29/21).
Around Papercourt Clayton also recorded that the lands adjoining the banks were waterlogged (GMR 1496/1, p. 5). This problem resulted in a new artificial channel being put in between Cartbridge and Papercourt known as Broadmead Cut to try to alleviate the drainage problem there. Broad Mead, in the manor of Woking, was itself one of the larger of the common meadows within the river valley. Manning and Bray describe how it operated at the beginning of the 19th century, when it was still considered a valuable commodity. It has been noted above in Section 3.4.3 that during times of neglect in the medieval period, parts of the Woking meadows decreased in value because of repeated flooding. This informs us that unwelcome flooding of land existed as a problem before the Navigation was built.
Walter Grove, here given as 'of River Wey Floods Prevention Association', reported to Clayton that the meadows between Worsfold and Triggs also seem to have been prone to flooding at times of heavy rain (ibid). Further up stream, it is recorded that the old 'flowing river' that leaves Stoke Lock area to irrigate the Sutton estate was then much overgrown (op. cit., p. 6).
Clayton concludes that the high level of the Navigation in relation to many stretches prevents good drainage of the river valley (GMR 1496/1, p. 26). His opinion of the meadows at Shalford, owned by the Austen family, is given as an appendix in his report, and is worth quoting in here,
'Certain meadows at Shalford have in the past been valuable for pasturage and haying, but of recent years it has been impossible to drain the land sufficiently to use the meadows for those purposes. Continuous complaints have been made by the tenant farmers and in the case of St. Catherine's Lock meadows it was necessary to reduce the rent from £77 to £60 a year because of flooding (tenant has now given notice). The Shalford Meadows are drained by old wooden outfalls, and in dry summer weather the river level stands above instead of below these outfalls.'
The reasons given for this poor drainage were given as:
These problems did not occur only in the 20th century. The correct management of the Navigation was crucial for the well-being of adjoining lands. During the 1840s there had been much concern about flooding meadowland at Ham as a result of Flocktons interfering with the flashboards at Bull Dogs Weir and Coulson Bay (GMR 129/95/1-22). According to the original agreement between the Ham miller and the Navigation, Ham Mill was required to open their sluices in times of flood to prevent the adjoining meadows from becoming flooded (GMR 129/79/1). It would seem from various snippets scattered amongst the records that the Navigation often had great difficulty getting the millers all along the river to co-operate with them.
Flood problems were more keenly felt in some places than in others. For example, there were lands that were plainly both well-drained, and seriously waterlogged, within hailing distance of each other in Stoke manor near Woodbridge and Dapdune. On a number of occasions it is recorded that the Wharf Field at Dapdune is ploughed. In the 19th century, the field often had a crop on it. In a letter of August 1859 a crop of rye is mentioned (GMR 129/83/19). Earlier in 1705 a nearby field called Hogganfield had a crop of barley on it (GMR 129/44/55). In both cases the farmers must have felt reasonably confident that these fields would not flood.
Not far north of Dapdune, James Mangles, was equally concerned about the site of his new house being flooded in 1802. To prevent this he imported large quantities of chalk from St. Catherine's Hill Pit, and earth from Guildford Park, to build up the former meadow to protect his property (GMR 129/37/9).
The Navigation barges were sometimes directly involved in helping to carry off the crop of the adjoining meadows. One suspects that barges often carried hay crops on the river in season, but often the distance was so short that many avoided passing locks and being recorded. An example survives in the Godalming Navigation journals from March 22nd 1775 when William East's barge was loaded with five tons of hay at 'Mr Shrubb's Mead', which was carried on to Guildford (GMR 142/2/1).
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One of the most frequent cargoes to be carried on the early Navigation was timber. However, much of this would have been oak timber imported from estates that were often some distance from the river. The woodlands that fringed the Navigation were often wetland woods of a much inferior quality to the oak timber that was exported to London and elsewhere. The best documented exception to this was the Sutton estate. This is said to have provided £2000 worth of timber towards the construction of the Navigation (Manning & Bray 1804-14, iii, lv). In 1704 it was said that £1000 worth of timber would be cut on the estate that year, and would be transported from Triggs Lock to London (GMR 129/44/38).
The woods and standing trees along the river were generally alder and willow, with few substantial 'timber' trees in the accepted sense. However, even lesser wood such as this had its uses, and could be managed to provide a modest income for its owners. The various maps associated with the Navigation frequently show features marked as 'osier beds'. These were a form of coppiced alder and willow that had a number of rural uses.
The tithe maps for the various manors along the Navigation all record strips of woodland along the banks. There was a tendency for the smaller strips of marshy land that was of little use as meadow to be marked as for 'osiers'. The management of these was not recorded very often before the later 19th century, when the Stevens family took a more active interest in them than previously. Before this osier beds were more commonly managed by local farmers. For example, there were a number recorded in Shalford parish on the 1842 tithe map (SRO). These rarely exceed an acre in extent, although there were exceptions. There was a large old osier bed in Guildford Meads, on the east bank of the Navigation that was two acres, three rods and 39 perches in area in 1842. Unlike oak wood and other timber plantations, they were seldom kept in the hands of the landowner. This suggests that such places tended to yield a low income.
The exact designation of these wetland woods tends to vary from parish to parish. The designation 'osiers' may not be a literal description. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1982, 722) defines 'osier' as a shoot of a species of willow, especially salix viminalis, used in basketwork. These shoots are coppice wood, and they would, no doubt, serve poorer farmers a number of uses. For example, what will make baskets might make hurdles for sheep folds, although hazel would have been preferred if it could be got. In Worplesdon two small adjacent plots of less than half an acre near Old Bucks Weir were listed specifically as 'Alder Bed' and 'Willow Bed' in 1838 (SRO Tithe map & award for Worplesdon). In Stoke osier beds were generally referred to as 'withy' beds. Oziers were also recorded as growing along the 'Rough by Flowing River', near Stoke Lock (SRO Tithe map & award for Stoke-by Guildford). In Send and Ripley, 'withy' beds were listed as 'woodland', leaving their exact make-up less precise (SRO Tithe map & award, Send & Ripley). In Pyrford, it seems the preferred designation for these small portions of wetland wood was 'Alder Bed' (SRO Tithe map & award, Pyrford).
There were occasionally small parcels of land along the river bank on slightly drier ground that are planted up with timber trees. At Cartbridge, next to the wharf, there was a triangular portion of land of just under two acres that was listed as a 'Fir Plantation' in 1844 (SRO Tithe map & award, Send & Ripley). At Sutton Boxes, there was a larger portion of woodland next to the river on rising ground known as 'Elms Wood'. This was over four acres in 1848, and designated an ordinary 'wood' (SRO Tithe map & award, Sutton). Next to the river between the Abbey Stream junction of Walsham Gates there was a large strip of woodland on the west bank listed as a 'Fir Plantation' of nearly eight acres in 1844 (SRO Tithe map & award, Pyrford). At West Hall in Byfleet there was a large wood of over 12 acres on the west side of the Navigation called 'Old Wood' (SRO Tithe map & award, Byfleet). One assumes that this is an ancient wood that pre-existed the Navigation. It subsequently seems to have been brought into the ornamental grounds of West Hall, and now contains the remains of a former ice house. To counteract the increasing wetness of the woodland floor, the owners of West Hall seem to have dug ornamental ponds to help drain the surplus water, and prevent the predominantly oak wood from turning into alder-based woodland. Many of these woodland plots mentioned above still exist today.
Beyond the immediate vicinity of the Navigation there are other woodlands that can be seen from the towpath. The great expanse of woodland covering the higher ground in Sutton Park is a reminder that local woodland products played a significant part in the construction of the Navigation. Until this century, the majority of the locks and weirs were still made almost entirely of timber from the local woodlands.
It is not considered the place in this report to comment on the management of woodland beyond the immediate vicinity of the Navigation. However, there are numerous trees growing alongside the towpath that show clear signs of being pollarded for coppice spears in the relatively recent past. There are only a few recorded glimpses of how these were used to derive income for Navigation, but those that survive make fascinating reading.
At an early date, it is made clear that the wharfingers at the various wharves along the river are responsible for the upkeep of the banks. As well as repairing the banks themselves, it must be assumed that they kept the various trees along the river clipped back or passage would have been impeded. In 1928 when C H J Clayton made his report to the County Council on the state of the river, he frequently refers to neglect occasioned by the growing over of trees on the banks. This was approaching a time when traffic on certain stretches of the river must have been sparse. The stretch above Bowers Bridge was 'much narrowed by ingrowing trees and bushes (SRO 1496/1, p. 6).
One of the earliest mentions of the exploitation of trees on the bank dates from 1810. One assumes tree management was carried out before this date, but was seldom recorded. On this occasion there appears to have been a discrepancy over who owned the trees on the bank by Black Boy Bridge. When this was cleared up they were sold to Mr Liberty, a timber merchant, who was to set up a saw mill by the bridge in 1843-44. An elm tree was offered to 'Beauchamp' who was told that he could have it 'from' 8 feet (GMR 129/67/22). From this, it might be suspected that the elm was a pollard, and the wood to be cut was the coppice wood in its crown. A few days later another letter was sent which tells William Alladay, the Thames Lock-keeper that he was not to let 'Mr Thickbroom' have the tops and bark of the trees from the Black Boy bank. Instead he was to sell it separately, and send the account to Lord Portmore (GMR 129/67/24).
The Stevens family seem to have taken an active interest in the wood growing on the banks around the turn of the 19th/20th century. This may have been inspired by the falling revenue from barges over the latter half of the 19th century (Vine 1986, 259). This first appears in the records in February 1890, when a number of places along the towpath are deliberately planted. This action was, in itself, a risk because tree roots are often one of the main causes of leakage to canals and other dammed water features. The 'New Cut' at Stoke was planted up with 47 'Withysets', 'Stoke Cut' receives 68, and 109 are planted below Stoke Lock. An unspecified quantity was also planted at Send Heath, and along the Long Reach from Parvis Bridge to New Haw. In June the same year, it was recorded that the 'withys' from Weybridge Lock to Thames Lock were cut, as well as 'all' the alder wood alongside the river at Coxes Mill Pond. In November and December a further 6000 Alders were planted at different parts on the banks (GMR 129/111/1).
The later 19th and early 20th centuries seem have been a time of financial need for the Stevens' family. It perhaps coincides with the time when they were attempting to become outright owners of the Navigation. Throughout 1890 and 1891 they record selling off small strips of land along the river, and making efforts to make use of those pieces that they retained by planting wood on them. In 1890 the records state that a strip of land 'bordering on Lady Pigot's wood below Byfleet' was sold for £200 to William Marsland of Piccadilly. In February 1891 a 'piece of land' below New Haw was sold to 'G B Clarke' for £80. Further lands below New Haw were sold for £50 and £100 respectively. In the same month another 2000 alders were planted 'above and below' New Haw on the banks (ibid).
Another source gives what may have been at least part of the outcome of these plantings. In January and February of 1907 the willows between Weybridge Lock and Coulson's Bay were 'topped' by Mr Dale. There were 90 trees here, and Dale paid 2/- each for them (SRO 137/12/40, pp. 44-45). This is a clear reference to the pollarding of willows.
In 1915 the alders between Tanyard Bridge and Papercourt Lock, Newark Lock and Newark Bridge, and on the 'left bank' between Basingstoke Canal and New Haw Lock were sold standing to 'Stanley Underwood Co.' for £15. We are told that this wood had not been cut for many years, and had grown very high. It was sold for 'powder' wood, and consequently it had to be 'split'. In July 1916 the alders on the strip of land between Coxes Mill Pond and the river was sold to Stanley Underwood Co. for £2-5-0d. This was just the right size for 'powder' wood, and did not need to be split. Exactly what was meant by 'powder' wood is explained in the next entry.
'The willows alongside the towpath between Stoke Lock and Shagden [Meadow] were cut for powder wood in May 1916. The trees had grown very high and a quantity of the wood had to be split. 90 trees here and they yielded 20 1/4 loads of wood and 1645 faggots. The men were paid a high price - £1 per load for cutting, stripping and splitting and were given the bark. The wood was brought in a large punt to Stoke Bridge and then carted to Chilworth Mills. 10/- a load was paid for collecting from the bank and delivering to Chilworth and 5/6d a hundred for cutting and tying faggots.... When the wood is cut again the faggots should be tied as they go along to avoid damage to the grass in the meadow' (SRO 137/12/40, pp. 44-45).
From this it would appear that willow and alder wood could be burnt for charcoal, and used in the production of gunpowder. The years during which this activity was taking place, 1914-16, obviously coincide with the heavy demand for gunpowder because of the Great War.
There are only a few more entries regarding the management of trees on the Navigation, but clearly this activity continued until quite recently. One must assume that in the unrecorded years before these records that the withies and other wood along the banks recorded on the tithe maps must have been treated in a similar fashion.
In February and March of 1926 the Willows along the towpath between Stoke Lock and Shagden were cut again 'by the Etheringtons'. We are told that they 'cut them for the wood, we providing a barge at our expenses to convey the wood to Bowers, where it was unloaded. The frith? was burnt.' A particularly fine line of old pollarded willows extends along this stretch to this day. The reference to unloading at Bowers must be one of the last times the old timber wharf there was used. Finally in April 1941 the alder on the strip of land between the river and Coxes Mill Pond was cut. It does not record why.
The records for the Godalming Navigation are generally sparse compared with those of the Wey. However, it is notable that as trade of that stretch of river begins to decline after the coming of the railways in the 1840s and 1850s, the minutes of the Commissioners' meetings increasingly record the need to cut back trees of the banks. In 1860 a survey of repairs to the banks record that willows and alders need cutting back as they are growing over the towpath and banks, particularly between Unstead and Godalming, where trade was perhaps slackest (GMR 142/1/3).
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By the time that the navigation was built, the part that fishing played in the economy of the Wey valley had probably declined since the medieval period. Nevertheless, the fishing and other game rights must have been considered important as they are written into the Act of 1671. This states that any fishing or game rights created as a result of building the Navigation should remain the right of the King and the landowners along its banks. These were to be as they were prior to the construction, provided that in practicing these rights no obstruction to barge traffic should result (GMR 129/133/1, folio 21).
In early times it is probable that salmon and sea trout ran up the river to spawn in the upper reaches around Farnham and Alton. The lack of any mention of these migratory species in medieval records probably suggests that they were a rare event even then. The main crop fish from the river throughout its recorded history was probably the ubiquitous eel. There is good reason to suspect that eel fishing on the river, possibly for the London market as well as for local consumption, continued as a source of income for a small group of people well into the 19th century, if not longer.
The best evidence for this is the surviving eel trap at Newark. This has iron machinery date stamped 1818 (Crocker 1990, 18), with further repairs recorded on the structure in the early 20th century. Further eel traps are recorded at Ham Mills in the mid 1840s (GMR 129/95/15-16), and a New Haw Lock in 1888 (GMR 129/141/4). At this latter site, it would appear that the lock-keeper was able to supplement his income by laying traps in the Tumbling Bay alongside the lock.
Opposite Godalming Wharf, it would appear that an old arm of the river was deliberately shut off from the barge river to form a U-shaped pond. The map of 1782 marks this pond 'to keep fish' (GMR 129/143/13). With the lack of refrigeration in those days, holding ponds were frequently kept to store fish for fattening before being taken for the table. These occasional asides suggest that commercial fishing continued on a modest scale on the Navigation throughout its history. This has only died out completely in the second half of the 20th century, to be replaced by an active community of sport fishermen.
There are occasional records around 1800 that suggest that the Proprietors took an active interest in the fishing rights on the Navigation. It does not appear that they were actively involved with commercial exploitation of the fishing at that date. Both the fish and the fishing seem to have been considered one of the perks of ownership of the Navigation. Like many country landowners since the medieval period, the owners of the Navigation, seem to have felt that owning fishing rights was one of the methods by which they established their status as influential local people. Such wealthy men and women often considered it beneath them to sell fish to their peers (although they may not have been so reluctant to sell them to those below them in status), and took part in a complex ritual of gift giving using the products of their estate. This gift exchange has its roots in the mist of antiquity, but continued into the 19th century, when it seems to have died out (Currie 1991). As late as 1713 Roger North (1713, 67) expresses this ritual by referring to freshwater fish as,
'... a Dish as acceptable as any you can purchase for Money; or you may oblige your friends and Neighbours, by making Presents of them, which, from Country-man to the King, is well taken; ... it is a positive Disgrace to appear covetous of them, rather more than Venison, ... so that Presents are not only expedient, but necessary to be made by him that professeth a Mastery of fish.'
This status did not extend to sea fish because they conferred no status of land ownership, the fishery of the sea being open to all. Stephen Chandler, the carpenter, seems to have frequently come into the possession of fish, probably when draining locks and the like down for repairs. In June 1800 he wrote to George Stubbs, the Proprietors' solicitor,
'I have had the Opportunity in Catching some fish which i send you a brace of jacks [pike, normally under 5lbs in weight] & brace of pirch [perch] beying first, & one jack & brace of pirch for Mr Langton at the bottom of the basket. i Hope you excus my troubling you with Mr Langtons fish but Did not now were to Pisent to Mr Langton shoul take it as a favour if you convey them to Mr Langton' (GMR 129/29/55).
On February 26th 1801 he sent some more fish to Stubbs,
'I have Been Repairing Pyrford Bridge wich Enabled mee to Send you some fish wich i hope you will Receive Safe' (GMR 129/30/17).
On April 16th 1820 Lord Portmore sent Jenkins, the Thames Lock-keeper, the shortest of notes. 'If you should get any small fish send some' (GMR 129/68/13), an indication of his Lordship's attention to the small detail of Navigation management.
In 1802 we find some information about the Proprietors' views on poaching on the Navigation. In July William Alladay is instructed to get a signed admission of guilt from Samual Baker, William Bartlett and John Gunner, workmen from Coxes Mill. In return for proceedings to be dropped against them for illegally fishing in the Navigation, they must sign this document, put an apology at their expense in the County Chronicle, and pay all the expenses of the proceedings to date, which amounted to £4-1s-0d (GMR 129/13/21). This was duly done on 20th July, the reason the Proprietors agreed not to proceed further against them being given as in consideration for their families (GMR 129/26/43). This suggests that the likely outcome of their crime could have been prison or deportation if they had not complied with the Proprietors' conditions.
It is not known when sport fishermen first began to use the Navigation. There are records of fishing for sport in the later medieval period (Hoffman 1985). By the time that Isaac Walton was writing his classic work The complete angler (1653), angling was considered to be one of the pastimes of country gentlemen. Therefore, it is difficult to distinguish what aspects of the fishing rights Sir George More of Loseley and Mr Castillion, a local farmer, were disputing on the Wey at Godalming in the early 17th century (Redstone 1911, 32). Like many pragmatic men of their age, they did not see a clear distinction. The policy of modern sport anglers of returning coarse fish alive would not have entered their heads. Fish caught for sport or commercial gain would both have been consumed within the local economy.
There is a fleeting glimpse of fishing for sport on the Navigation in the early 19th century that shows that both the local aristocracy and Navigation employees took part in it, often side by side. In a Thames Lock-keeper's memorandum book there is a record of fishing on the Navigation in the years 1824-25. On December 17th 1824, it is recorded that 'Baker' took a 'jack' (pike) of four and a half pounds 'on the lock side of Thames Lock'. This was sent to 'Mr Surman' together with eight eels. It would seem that although employees might fish, the catch was still considered to be the prerogative of a select band. Mr Surman was Lord Portmore's solicitor, and, as such, would be considered a gentleman to whom gifts of fish were appropriate. The entries on fishing are concluded on August 23rd 1825 when the writer informs us that he fished 'Long Reach' (above New Haw Lock) that day, and was accompanied by Lord Portmore's eldest son (GMR 129/79/1).
In 1888 it is recorded that the fishing rights on the Navigation are claimed by the Lord of the respective manors through which the Navigation flows. Above Walsham Gates as far as Weybridge Lock, the fishing was in the hands of the Proprietors, as it is stated that a 'Mr Green' pays £4 for the right to fish on this stretch (GMR 129/141/4). There is very little recorded subsequently about the fishing rights, but after Harry Stevens handed over the Navigation to the National Trust, the rights have been held by the Trust. They are presently leased out to a restricted number of local societies.
Sport fishing became increasingly popular for the lower middle and working classes towards the end of the 19th century. At this time, it may have often been combined with the craze for pleasure boating. It has continued to grow apace until it peaked at some time in the late 1970s, being claimed to be the largest participant sport in the United Kingdom. Statistics suggest it has declined slightly since that time, but it still probably remains numerically one of the most frequent public uses of the Navigation other than walking, a fact that is often overlooked in management documents.
There are currently no other sporting rights on the Navigation. In the past duck fowling would have been undertaken, but this is seldom recorded. A rare notice is given by the diarist, John Evelyn, who records that in August 1681, good sport was had by the guests of the owner of Pyrford Place in the duck decoy on the east back of the navigation near Wisley village (Powell 1911, 431). This large decoy was fed by a 'trunk' or culvert from the Navigation, and was a frequent source of comment in the property records (GMR 129/39/16; 129/49/3).
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The industries than grew up along the river valley and were served by the Navigation are described. These were mainly milling in a variety of guises, tanning, chalk quarrying and lime burning and barge building. Milling was by far the most important of these, and continued to supply the navigation with trade long after the other industries had declined to nothing.
Water power was used for a variety of industries on the river. Corn milling was the oldest, and proved to be the longest-lived, but other industries had periods when they too provided considerable trade on the river. In the late 17th through to the early 19th century iron mills were known in valley. The most important of these was Coxes Mill, which provided over 4,000 loads per year to be carried on barges in its heyday. This was also the last iron mill in the valley. Paper mills were also popular, that at Catteshall providing trade on the river until the early 20th century. In the later 18th and 19th centuries saw mills and bark mills could be found, with seed mills being set up at Ham Haw near Thames Lock.
Corn milling was by far the most important industry in the valley, supplying vast amounts of flour to the London market. To begin with this was from the local hinterland, but from the 19th century imported grain was shipped down river to the Wey mills to be ground into flour, and shipped back up to London. Over the course of the early 20th century, the Wey mills gradually went out of business. Nevertheless the Navigation continued to handle up to 15,000 tons per year from Coxes Mill until the early 1960s. The last commercial barge loaded here in 1969.
There were a number of tanyards along the Navigation, but little is known about their internal affairs. The chalk industry flourished briefly from c. 1760 to 1820 providing lime for the London building trade, but this was unable to sustained commercial pressure from other areas, such as Dorking and Kent. Barge building may have existed on a small scale in the 18th century at Guildford, but the main period for this activity was in the early 20th century at Dapdune Wharf under the Edwards family.
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A great variety of milling has taken place along the Navigation during its history. This has included corn, saw, bark, iron, flock, oil, and paper mills. The river was also closely connected with the transport of gunpowder from the gunpowder mills at Chilworth. This section gives a brief history of the mills along the Navigation, as well as others on the various tributaries of the Wey that may have had an effect on the trade of the river.
Earlier in the medieval period, water power had been used for fulling at a number of sites adjacent to the later Navigations, including at Guildford and Catteshall. Fulling mills fell out of use in the 16th century as the cloth trade in England declined.
By the 17th century, two new industries sprang up in the Wey Valley to replace fulling. These were iron and paper milling. Paper mills were set up before the end of the century at Ham, Byfleet, Stoke and Catteshall, and before milling ceased in the valley and its tributaries, Woking, Bowers and Chilworth mills had also toyed with paper milling.
John Evelyn described how the paper mills at Byfleet operated in 1678. It might be assumed that this process was followed elsewhere in the Wey Valley, as quantities of 'rags' were carried on barges to the various paper milling sites.
'They cull the rags which are linen for white paper, woollen for brown; then they stamp them in toughs to a pap with pestles or hammers like the powder-mills, then put it into a vessel of water, in which they dip a frame closely wired with wire as small as a hair and close as a weaver's reed; on this they take up the pap, the superfluous water draining through the wire; this they dexterously turn, shake out like a pancake on a smooth board between two pieces of flannel sucking out the moisture; then taking it out, they ply and dry it on strings, as they dry linen in the laundry; then clip it in alum-water, lastly polish, and make it up in quires. They put some gum in the water in which they macerate the rags. The mark we find in the sheets is formed in the wire' (Guiseppi 1905, 418).
Iron mills were first set up at Ham c. 1720. In general, this type of mill was rather short-lived in comparison with other forms of milling. Ham Mills continued as an iron mill until 1817, longer than any other site. Byfleet was worked as an iron and brass mill in the 18th century, but it was Coxes Mill that is the best recorded, possibly because of the great animosity that seems to have grown between the owner Alex Raby and the Proprietors. Raby had set up an iron mill at Coxes in the 1770s, but by 1810 he had been gone 'some time', according to an application from Messrs. Thompson and Foreman to resume iron milling (GMR 129/69/1). Iron milling ceased here in 1829, and after a brief flirtation with silk milling the site settled into a long and prosperous era as a corn mill (Stidder 1990, 112-13).
Although other industries were carried on briefly at some mill sites, such as leather, snuff and saw mills, oil milling was one of the more popular uses of water power on the Wey in the 19th century. Ham Mills were converted to oil mills in 1842 to crush linseed into oil, and this continued until the site was burnt down in 1963. Rape was another popular vegetable source that was ground down for its oil. Between 1816 and 1831 Bowers Mill seems to have been used as an oil mill.
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8.1.2 Ham Mills
This mill was only slightly upstream from the entrance to Thames Lock. The documents relating to its creation have not been seen, but it is possible that the Proprietors of the Navigation did not foresee the trouble this mill would cause them over the years.
Little is known about the earliest mill, which was set up in 1691 as a paper mill by Robert Douglas. A list of tenants exists in the Navigation records from this date until 1853 (GMR 129/92/2). Between 1720 and 1817 the site was operated as an iron mill, but after this date it became derelict for a while.
In 1841 the site was taken over by Messrs Flockton, and rebuilt as an oilseed mill. A letter dated July 1841 suggests that the old mill required complete rebuilding, the plans for the new building being described as 'extensive', 100 feet in length and 70 feet deep (GMR 129/95/1). From the start Flockton made claims to the lock-house, and began interfering with the water control devices in the area, to the distress of those in charge of Thames Lock. This dispute appears to have been long and acrimonious. It was only finally settled in 1847 (GMR 129/10/81). The mills were put up for sale in 1852 (GMR 129/142/6), and again in 1871 (GMR 129/142/9). There were a number of changes of ownership after this, but the site continued to process oilseed until 1963 when milling ceased.
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8.1.3 Black Boy Saw Mills
A saw mill was set up here between 1843 and 1844 by a local timber merchant called Liberty. Like many of the other millers on the river, Thomas Liberty seemed to be unable to keep to original agreement for renting water and bank space, and was soon in dispute with the Proprietors (GMR 129/10/78-79). The site lay immediately upstream of Black Boy Bridge on the west bank. It took water out of the Navigation, and returned it to the Bourne stream on its north side. The site had its own wharf to load and unload timber, and was still apparently operating in 1888, when Liberty was still paying rent for the water and wharfage at £20-7-6d per annum (GMR 129/141/4). There was still an agreement on taking water for the mills here in 1900 (Dapdune Archives W015).
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8.1.4 Coxes Mill
Coxes Mill was a relatively late site to develop. It was begun around 1776 as an iron mill by Alex Raby (Stidder 1990, 113). The miller at Ham, who was also producing iron, tried unsuccessfully to prevent Raby from setting up, fearing the competition (GMR129/39/8). Like most of the other millers reliant on the Navigation's water for power, Raby was in frequent dispute with the Proprietors. An extensive mill pond is shown on the Navigation map of 1782 (GMR 129/143/13), but disputes over water were still frequent.
Raby was constantly on the look-out for schemes for making money. In 1783 he was proposing to the Proprietors to erect a corn mill below Coxes Lock, and an iron forge near New Haw Lock (GMR 129/21/69), but what became of these schemes is not known. By 1800 he was involved in producing lime. He had built a lime kiln at Coxes Lock by 1800 (GMR 129/29/59), and may have been responsible for the kilns on New Haw Wharf. By 1806 Raby was leasing land at New Haw solely for the purpose of preventing a rival from setting up an iron mill there (GMR 129/70/17). He appears to have given up the mill by 1810. By 1829 iron milling at Coxes had stopped, and the mill was described as being shut up in 1832 (GMR 137/12/1).
Soon after this corn and silk milling started up on the site, but the latter was short-lived. Corn-milling proved to be a profitable exercise, and an extensive complex of buildings grew up on the site. By 1900 it is said that eight barges could lie up together alongside the new grain silo without obstructing the Navigation. Until 1962 over 15,000 tons of wheat a year was being brought to the site by water for milling. The mill finally closed in 1982, but by then its trade had transferred to the road and railways (Stidder 1990, 113). Nevertheless, it remained one of the last major users of the Navigation for commercial purposes.
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8.1.5 Byfleet Mill
Byfleet Mill was not on the Navigation, but on the old river 1.5km to the west (TQ 07286068). There is a mill recorded in Byfleet at the time of Domesday, and it is possible that it would have been on or near the present site. There was a paper mill here by 1673, and in the 18th century the site served an iron and brass mill associated with the Bristol Company of Wiredrawers. It appears corn-milling continued at this time. Milling ceased in 1930 following the River Wey Improvement Scheme. The building still stands and is a Grade II* listed building (Crocker 1990, 51).
There would appear to have been little recorded connection between this mill and the Navigation, although it is possible that materials going to and from it could have passed through New Haw Wharf. This wharf was about three kilometres by road, and there is no other obvious route for materials to Byfleet Mill. It is possible that from the later 18th century the millers used Parvis Wharf (Alan Wardle pers. comm.).
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8.1.6 Ockham Mill
Ockham Mill stands on an artificial mill stream run off the old river above Newark Mill. There is a suggestion that there may have been at least one other mill nearby in the medieval period, possibly two.
According to the scanty evidence available there were also mills in this area that served the manors of Wisley and Pyrford. Both mills are recorded in Domesday Book (Wood 1975, 6.5; 36.5), the Pyrford entry recording two mills there. It is possible this means that there were two sets of stones in the same mill, rather than two separate mill sites. Both the Wisley and the Pyrford sites are now lost.
There are two mills recorded at Ockham in 1296. One of these was on the present site, but there was another about 500m downstream of it until the 18th century. The second mill disappeared soon after this. The mill on the present site was destroyed by fire, and replaced by the existing building in 1862. Milling ceased in 1927, and the building has since been converted into a private house (Stidder 1990, 121).
There is virtually nothing recorded about the relationship of this site with the Navigation. As it took water from a section of the old river, and fed its waste water back into the old river again, it is possible the working of this mill had little effect on the passage of barges. Barges loading and unloading at Pigeon House Wharf may have served the mill, as Wharf Lane leads directly past the site. The distance between wharf and mill is little more than a few hundred yards. Perhaps more detailed research will locate records of substantial quantities of corn passing through this wharf? A list of barge owners on the Navigation in 1776 list two owners as being of 'Oakham', John Hopkins and John Spong (GMR 129/46/13). Both men may have been operating from Pyrford Wharf, taking goods to and from the mill, amongst other activities.
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8.1.7 Newark Mill
It has been suggested that a mill existed here in the medieval period, mainly on the basis than it was so close to Newark Priory. However, it is not specifically mentioned until 1677. In the early 18th century it was known as Allen's Mill, and it appears to have always been a corn mill. In the late 18th century it had its own private wharf, suggesting that the Navigation was an important source of transport for it.
The miller here could claim compensation for every barge that used this part of the Navigation as he was obliged to close up his sluices to let them pass. Between March and June 1764 'Mrs Mildred' was paid £2-8-0d for 'Pennings' at Newark Mill to allow barges to pass (GMR 129/7/2, p. 5). There were still difficulties over this situation in the 1820s, when the Proprietors of the Navigation proposed to deepen the channel by 18 inches to avoid this payment (GMR 129/86/1-5). Despite much scouring, this does not seem to have been successful, and a toll continued to be paid after 1832.
A sale catalogue of 1891 (GMR 129/142/12b) records that there were three waterwheels at Newark running eight pairs of stones. For a while, it would seem the miller even had his own barge (Stidder 1990, 120). The mill was closed down in 1943 following damage by enemy bombing. Work never started up here again, and in 1966 the largely timber building was burnt down. Only the wheel pits and brick footings still survive.
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8.1.8 Woking Mill
Woking Mill is thought to have been on the site of a Domesday Mill. As has been seen above in Section 3.4.1, a mill is recorded at Woking throughout the medieval period that was probably on this site. When the Navigation was built in 1651-52, this mill was left on part of the old river by-passed by a new cut. Nevertheless, as at Stoke and Newark, the miller was entitled to a fee for sharing the water with the Navigation, and this was a source of some concern to the Proprietors.
It would appear that the site was used as both a corn and a fulling mill in the medieval period, but had reverted to be solely corn mills by the 1670s. In 1749 a snuff mill had been added to the two corn mills, but this had been replaced by a leather mill by 1796. A paper mill was added in 1832, and corn milling is last mentioned in the 1850s. By 1894 the site was occupied by Woking Paper Works, and a printing works was set up here shortly after. The site still continues in industrial use, but there is no longer any milling here (Stidder 1990, 124).
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8.1.9 Bowers Mill
It has been discussed in Section 4.2 that the exact origin of Bowers Mill is a mystery. Did it move to its present site from elsewhere, or was it put in as soon as the cut was made in the 1650s? There are vague hints at this possibility on early 18th century maps that show a paper mill near Broad Oak Bridge. There appears to be a mill on the present site later in the 18th century. In 1779 there was both a corn and paper mill on the site. This seems to have reverted solely to a corn mill in 1793, but by 1816 the site seems to have operated as an oil mill. From 1831 corn milling was taken up again. Milling ceased in 1910, not long after roller plant was introduced (Stidder 1990, 50). The survey of the Wey undertaken in 1928 recorded that the old cut to the mill had been 'stopped up' by this date to prevent any discharge of water (GMR 1496/1, p. 6).
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8.1.10 Stoke Mill
There are two mills at the royal manor of Stoke in 1086 (Wood 1975, 1.3). In 1365 Simon de Sudbury, Bishop of London, was in dispute with Richard de Stoughton over access to mills at Stoke. In 1549 Henry Polsted sold a 'rood-meal' there to Laurence Stoughton on which a water-mill had been erected. In 1596 the Stoughton family moved this mill on to their own lands, where it was reputed to still stand in the early 19th century (Manning & Bray 1804-14, i, 173). Stidder (1990, 87) offers confusing evidence when he states that Sir Richard Weston erected a mill on the present site in 1635. One assumes this was on land that was leased from the Stoughton family, because in the early days of the Navigation a dispute arose between the Stoughtons and the Proprietors over the use of water to Stoke Mills. This was only resolved in the 1670s when it was agreed that the Proprietors should pay a toll for each barge that passed the mill (Manning & Bray 1804-14, iii, lviii).
It is possible that Weston's mill was a separate building to the earlier corn mill, particularly as his mill was reputed to be a paper mill. Most records from hereon seem to suggest that there were two separate mills at Stoke. For instance, a plan drawn to show a disputed road passing the site drawn between 1782 and 1788 shows a paper mill and a corn mill as distinctly different buildings (GMR 129/41/6). In the 1760s two millers, Andrews and Capelin, are paid regular sums of money to 'pen' the water at Stoke to allow barges to pass (GMR 129/7/2, p. 40).
In 1828-29 the Proprietors had to give separate notice to the corn and paper millers for alterations to the flow resulting from repair works (GMR 129/86/2-3). It was around this time that the Proprietors put forward a scheme to deepen the Navigation by 18 inches to try to alleviate the problem of sharing water with the various mills on the river (GMR 129/86/4). It seems that considerable sums were expended over the years 1827-30 to this end (GMR 129/86/5), but it seems that this must have failed. In 1832 the Proprietors entered into a new agreement with the millers on the river called the 'Miller's Indenture' (GMR 129/129). The Stoke miller was the chief beneficiary of this document.
There was a saw mill at Stoke in the 1780s, but this does not seem to have lasted long. Until 1869 corn and paper milling seems to have continued on the site, when the paper mill closed down. The corn mill was converted to roller plant in 1893-94, and the water-wheel was replaced by turbines in 1915. The mill eventually closed in 1956, when it was converted to a warehouse and boat yard before being adapted for offices in 1988 (Stidder 1990, 87).
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8.1.11 Guildford Town Mills
Mills had existed in Guildford since at least the 13th century, but it is not known exactly when a mill was set up on the present site. The site had served as both a corn and a fulling mill at one time. In 1701 the site of the fulling mill was used to pump water up to the town (Giuseppi 1905, 349). This continued into the present century. The mill itself ceased to operate as a corn mill in 1892, and was never updated to roller mills, continuing as a water-powered system to the very end (Stidder 1990, 78). There is little evidence to suggest that there were any major disputes with the Navigation over water use.
Guildford Mill is not generally known as one of the mills on the Navigations that had to be paid to stop up their sluices to allow a head of water to build up in the Navigation to allow barges to pass. With the building of the Godalming Navigation after 1760, it seems that this became necessary sometimes to get barges through Millmead Lock. In January 1774 the miller is paid £5-10-0d for a quarter's 'penning' at Guildford Mill (GMR 129/7/3a, p. 64). From 1760, there are constant complaints that the miller was not regulating his sluices properly, and causing lands above the mill to be flooded (Alexander 1974, 97). The sluices at the mill were still causing problems in 1928, long after the mill had shut down, as the Corporation Waterworks were also inclined to keep their water level too high (GMR 1496/1, p. 36).
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8.1.12 Shalford Mill
Shalford Mill is on the Tillingbourne stream, close to its junction with the old River Wey. There seems to have been a mill here since the medieval period. The present building dates from the 18th century. In the 1920s it was taken over by the National Trust, who run it as a tourist attraction. It does not seem to have had any direct effect on the running of the Godalming Navigation. It is not known if it ever used the river to transport its produce. It is currently open to the public as a restored working mill.
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8.1.13 Chilworth Mills
Further up the Tillingbourne stream were the Chilworth gunpowder mills. After 1704 there were also paper mills here. The gunpowder mills were amongst the most important and largest in the country. They had started up by 1626, and were still operating into the present century. The gunpowder traffic only ceased in 1921. Before this it was an important source of income to both Navigations.
Although these mills had no direct effect on the water supply to the Navigation, they used the river to transport materials. Gunpowder was first sent to Dapdune Wharf, where the present Wharf Cottage was used as a powder store, but after the creation of the Godalming Navigation in 1760, most of the trade moved to Stonebridge Wharf.
One of the earliest disputes on the Navigation was in the 1650s when the Proprietors tried to set up a wharf with a gunpowder store too close to the town of Guildford. This caused an outcry from Lady Dirleton, the nearest neighbour, that forced the wharf to be moved downstream to Dapdune (Corke 1995, 34-38).
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8.1.14 Unstead Mills
Back on the Godalming Navigation, a new corn mill was set up at Unstead in the 19th century. There had been a medieval mill at Unstead, but it is not known where it was situated (Manning & Bray 1804-14, ii, 99).
The Godalming Commissioners' Minute Book records that in August 1831 Messrs. Holland the occupiers of the 'newly erected Mill called Unstead Mill' have 'made a Cut for conducting a supply of water to and from the said Mill and having erected two horsebridges over the same and also sluices adjoining the Lock there to take off the waste water' (GMR 142/1/2). An earlier meeting records that in August 1777 the Commissioners considered the possibility of erecting a mill 'near Unstead Lock', but it would appear that objections were made that prevented any further action being taken at this date (GMR 142/1/1). The mill, it would seem, was eventually erected between 1830 and 1831. The Navigation map of 1834 (GMR 142/8/4) shows a mill served by a single leet parallel with the west bank of the Navigation, with apparently one mill building.
By the time of the Shalford Tithe Award (map dated 1842; award, 1845), there were two leets on the site supplying 'Unstead Mill', and 'Unstead Little Mill' (SRO Tithe map & award for Shalford). The main mill building was owned by John Sparks and occupied by Edward Chitty, whilst the 'Little Mill', on the east of the main building, was also owned by Sparks, but occupied by John Upfold and others. The double leat continued to exist until very recently, but seems to have attracted no curious comment. According to Alan Wardle (pers. comm.), one of the mills here acted as a flock mill. The mills ceased to operate in 1906 when the plant was sold (Stidder 1990, 88).
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8.1.15 Catteshall Mill
This site is one of the best recorded on the navigations, and has been the subject of a very thorough study (Crocker and Crocker 1981). The site seems to have been occupied from an early date, with both corn and fulling mills operating side by side in the 14th century. The fulling mill seems to have fallen out of use by the 16th century, and by 1661 the Onslow family had set up a paper mill here (ibid, 5).
On the creation of the Godalming Navigation in 1760, an agreement was reached over the sharing of water. Although this was not without its problems, it seems to have worked without the extremes of acrimony that existed on some of the Wey Navigation mills. Perhaps prior experience, ensured that a more sensible agreement was reached.
The mill seems to have benefited from its relationship with the Navigation to all intents. In the late 18th-century, the owner of the flour mill, John Sweetapple, requested that the Navigation enlarged its flour warehouse adjacent to the lock at Catteshall, and offered to meet the expense of erecting stone quoins for the support of the building (op. cit., 9).
The paper mill was apparently rebuilt in 1824. By 1839 corn milling seems to have ceased, although from 1813 to 1843 a tannery had been set up on the site that used a bark mill to grind the bark for this process (Crocker & Crocker 1981, 11-12). From the late 1830s the paper mill generally thrived. From 1868-98 it was operated by the Spicer family, followed by the Farncombe Paper Company (1898-1907), and then Albert Reed and Company (1907-39). After this last date, the paper mill closed down, and the site was used as an engineering works run by J I Blackburn and Company until 1973.
There were pollution problems at this mill in the years 1878-88, when it used esparto grass to make the paper. This was brought up from London Docks by barge. It required chemical treatment to make it suitable for conversion to paper. The possibility of pollution was first mentioned in the Godalming Commissioners' Minute Book in September 1878. The water above Catteshall Lock was reported as being 'mixed with an oily substance'. The water below the lock was found to be 'bright', but that 'below the junction of the backwater' and 'Spicers Mill' was found to be stained a 'brown colour from some substance not known' (GMR 142/1/4).
The Guildford Sanitary Authority was called in to investigate proceedings at the mill in 1886 and again in 1887, following complaints. The Authority's Medical Officer could not agree whether the process constituted serious pollution or not. One suspects that pressure not to threaten local jobs by instigating a too rigorous prosecution of the case played some part in this indecision. As a result of the charges settling tanks were installed, with additional filter beds added in 1895. The inquiry reported that six to eight tons of caustic soda, eight to nine tons of chloride of lime, five tons of alum, one and a half tons of hyposulphite of soda, five hundredweight of colouring was currently store at the mill. Seventeen pints of sulphuric acid and 40,000 gallons of water were used every day at the mill. Shortly after these events, the mill changed to using wood-pulp to make paper, and was one of the first UK mills to use this material (ibid, 19-20).
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8.1.16 Westbrook Mill
When C H J Clayton undertook his survey of the River Wey for the County Council in 1928 he reported that the Navigation ended at 'Westbrook Leather Mill' (GMR 1496/1). This contradicts all other opinion that the navigable river ended at Godalming Town Bridge. Nevertheless, it seems to suggest a view that may bear some semblance to reality. Considering the extensive industrial processes that were carried out at Westbrook over the centuries, it is difficult to believe that goods could not have travelled the extra few hundred yards upstream to this important mill. At the least goods to and from the mill must have gone as far as the Town Wharf. By the time Clayton is writing, the Town Wharf itself had fallen out of official use, the last barges using it in 1925 (Corke 1995, 62).
Manning and Bray (1804-14, i, 605) report that in the early 19th century, 'Mr Godbold' had a paper mill, a fulling mill, and an oil or leather mill at Westbrook. There was a paper and corn mills at Eashing, and corn mills at Goldaming and Enton. With all this activity close to the official terminal of the Navigations, it must have had an effect on the carriage of goods on the river.
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Chalk quarrying had probably been an industry in the Guildford area for centuries before the Navigation was made. Chalk for building is known from the medieval period. It was not the best stone for durability, but it had its uses as rubble, and for internal work.
Many people have difficulty in believing in chalk's waterproof qualities. When wetted and rammed down, it forms a considerable barrier to water, and was much used in the construction of the banks. It has even been recommended for sealing dams and ponds. Considerable quantities of chalk have been transported along the Navigation to repair leaking banks, and to act as infill behind wharf timbers, as has been shown by archaeology at Dapdune (Currie 1995). In July 1764 £9-12-0d was spent on chalk taken to Dapdune (GMR 129/7/2, p. 4). The account books in the 18th century give frequent payments for chalk 'used on the River' (e.g. in 1764, GMR 129/7/2, p. 10)
Corke (1995, 34) argues that a chalk pit existed on the west bank of the Navigation opposite the Leas in the 1650s. Other pits existed from an early date at Rack's Close, but it is not known exactly when chalk became a major cargo on the river. No doubt there was always some of this material being moved, but it is after 1764 that it begins to become regularly mentioned in Navigation correspondence.
It seems that it was the demand for Surrey lime in London that caused an increase in this trade from the later 18th century. Collins (1969, 45) has argued that before the 1770s chalk quarrying was largely a casual affair. However, the main interest in the trade seems to have come about following the opening of the Godalming Navigation c. 1764. In 1765 it is noted that a wharf had been set up on some waste land to serve 'Guildford chalk pit' without a licence (GMR 142/1/1, p. 162).
Around 1775 lime kilns were set up near Guildford to exploit the trade link with London along the Wey by two London builders' merchants, Samual Meeke and Henry MacCleod (Collins 1969, 49). An agreement made with the Proprietors in 1776 by these men mentions an earlier arrangement made in 1764, so it is possible that this trade had begun earlier (GMR 129/46/1). By the 1776 agreement Meeke and MacCleod agreed to pay a toll of 6d for every 25 bushels of lime carried on the river, and 4/6d for every 'chaldron' or ton of coal. The latter was probably carried up river to fire the lime kilns.
It would appear that chalk was taken regularly from Guildford to Godalming around this time. In 1774-75 William East's barge regularly carried chalk up river. This continued into the 1780s, and possibly beyond. Most weeks saw at least one barge load reach Godalming, although it is not known what use it was put to (GMR 142/2/1). Possibly it was converted to lime away from the quarry, as this was not unknown. In 1777 East complained that he could not land his barge at the chalk quarry landing stage on account of the amount of chalk piled up there for 'the lower Navigation' (GMR 142/1/1, p. 407).
By c. 1800 there seems to have been a number of wharves set up along the river to handle this trade. The chalk pit under St. Catherine's Hill had its own wharf, which was half the responsibility of the Navigation owners to maintain (GMR 129/29/34). The large chalk pit on the east bank of the Wey just south of the town of Guildford also had its own wharf on the site of the Guildford Rowing Club.
Even Alex Raby at Coxes Mill seems to have made an attempt to cash in on the growing trade. In 1800 he built a lime kiln into the side of the lock at Coxes, much to the annoyance of the Proprietors (GMR 129/29/58-59). Jago's map of 1823 shows two lime kilns at New Haw Wharf (GMR X80/1). One wonders if these were originally to do with Raby, as in 1803 he had applied for a licence to navigate chalk and lime between New Haw and the Thames (GMR 129/48/5). Both New Haw and Coxes are many miles from the nearest chalk pits, so it must be assumed that it was brought up river from Guildford as chalk, and processed into lime nearer to London.
It would seem that competition from other chalk quarrying areas was a problem for the Wey traffic. Most of the traders seemed to be very keen to negotiate special carriage rates to make themselves competitive. By the 1830s cheaper lime could be got from Dorking and Kent, and the Wey trade fell off considerably. A letter dated 1823 from George Edwards, the owner of the St. Catherine's lime works, details this competition. He says that he took over the lime works here in 1815 to supply the London trade, but in 1821 began to encounter competition from new lime from Kent. He asks the Proprietors to consider reducing the toll by half or he will not be able to remain competitive (GMR 129/13/56).
Although Collins (1969, 50) claims that by 1830 the London trade had virtually ceased on the Wey, it seems that the old quarries along the river continued to supply local agricultural demand until about 1900 (Robinson & Cooke 1962, 26). In particular, it seems that only those pits with ready access to the railways survived beyond the 1850s. Navigation records, which are full of letters and agreements fixing chalk tolls c. 1800, are very quiet about carriage of chalk as early as the later 1820s. Nevertheless, the scars of some of the larger quarries can still be made out south of Guildford around Rack's Close, and north of St. Catherine's Hill. The large quarries on the west bank north of Onslow Bridge in the former Guildford Park were gradually taken over by the railway company for sidings, although there still seems to be some minor local production here in the 1870s.
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Many histories of the Navigation make much of the carrying of bark to tanneries near London, but seem to ignore the fact that there were a number of sites on the Wey itself. It is possible that the earliest of these sites were largely urban, and situated near the river in Guildford and Godalming. From the early 1700s a number of rural sites were set up. Some of these were relatively short-lived, but that a Tanner's Bridge near Sendheath flourished from the early 1700s well into the present century.
Little is actually known about the tanneries themselves. There was a Bark House at Godalming Wharf with its own loading cut in 1800 (GMR 142/8/2), but this had gone by 1832. It is possible this served the local tanneries on the Wey, and most of those on the Navigation had gone by the later 1860s.
From 1813 tanning was carried out at Catteshall Mill by the Twycross family. This had its own bark mill to grind bark down for the tanning process. By 1840 there were 46 pits alongside the Navigation (Crocker & Crocker 1981, 12). There was an even larger tannery adjoining the Navigation at Meadrow near the Godalming boundary that had as many as 600 pits in 1863 (ibid, 13). This was owned by the Denyer family of Peasmarsh in 1825, and is shown covering a considerable area on the tithe map for Godalming of 1844. At this time it was run by Edmund Nicholes (SRO Tithe map & award for Godalming). A Mr Gibson added to it in 1855 and again in 1865, but it failed soon after this (Guiseppi 1905, 340), and all remains of it have disappeared from the landscape.
There were two tanneries on the Navigation above and below Cartbridge. The former was associated with Ashburton's Bridge, and seems to have had a temporary wharf associated with it. A survey of 1775 records the tanyard here on the Woking side of the river because it had encroached on the Navigation's property (GMR 129/74). This site does not seem to have operated for much beyond 1800 as it is not recorded after this date.
Possibly the best known tannery on the river is at Tanyard Bridge between Cartbridge and Papercourt Lock, on the east side of the river. It is reputed to have started in the early 18th century, and is marked continuously on maps into the present century. The site is now occupied by a factory marked on recent maps as a 'pulverising mill'. Like the other tanneries little is known about its history, and there is little direct reference to it amongst Navigation records.
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Barge building may have been carried on sites along the two Navigations, judging from the number of barges recorded on the river as being owned by local people. For example, in 1830 there were eight barge owners operating from Guildford alone. These were James Brickwood, who owned the 'Rocket' and 'Union'; John Davis, who owned 'Endeavor'; George Edwards, 'Economist' and 'Guildford Miller'; William Mason, 'Chance'; William Mills, 'Ann', 'Vanguard' and 'Victory'; Hugh Russell, 'Chance' and 'Hope'; J and J Wilkins, 'Lighter', 'Regulator', and 'Reliance'; and J M Wilkins, 'Charlotte', 'Friendly' and 'Maria' (Vine 1986, 262-63).
Sadly, little is known of barge building before the Edwards family settled at Dapdune after 1894. There have been hints from recent archaeological excavations at Dapdune that a draw dock may have existed there before the Edwards' era. Until further work is carried out, it can not be said with any certainty if this earlier barge-building took place at Dapdune.
The Proprietors seem to have taken an interest in building their own barges in the mid-1760s. In April 1765 London and Company are paid £2-1-11d for pitch and tarr 'for the New Barge building at Guildford'. At the same time £3-14-11d is spent on 'several Sorts of Nails', and eight shilling for half a hundredweight 'of hair for the New Barge' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 18-19). In August the same year John Millist is paid £11-4-6d for sawing timber for the new barge 'Call'd the Fly', and William Morris is paid £29-18-0d for supplying the timber for the same (ibid, p. 25). Thomas Woods of Godalming was paid £4-19-6d for 'A New Sail for the Weekly Barge calld the Fly' (op. cit., p. 30). Between 24th June and 29th September 1765, Thomas Nettleford is paid £3-2-7d for doing blacksmith's work on the various barges owned by the Navigation (op. cit., p. 31).
From the 1760s, the accounts begin to list weekly expenses from bargemasters for taking barges to London. They seem to have two regular timber barges making the journey, plus a barge known after 1765 as the 'Old Fly'. The barge being built at this time was referred to as the 'New Fly'. It seems to be running from March 1766 (GMR 129/7/2, p. 42). From this date, the Proprietors seem to be running four barges on the river. Earlier, in 1764, they seem to have had only one barge operating under their direct control (ibid, p.2).
On the 19th April 1766 Richard Whilden is paid £26-2-0d for building 'the second New Fly' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 45). In June a payment of £15-8-3 1/2d is made to the sawyers for sawing timber and plank 'for the second new Fly' (ibid, p. 53). The accounts do not elaborate on this, but it is possible that this heralds the building of a fifth barge.
The barge-building seems to have been done at Guildford, but it is not known where. Is 'Guildford' a general description that could include Dapdune, or is the building actually being carried out in the town? It would seem to be easier to do it at Dapdune as the timber and the space is there, but wouldn't the records call this Stoke? Whatever the answer, it would seem that barge-building and repair was active in the London area. It is perhaps here that the greater number of the Navigation barges were built. In February 1766 William Cook was paid £6-4-0d For 'Dressing both Tim[be]r Barges at London' (GMR 129/7/2, p. 40).
Besides the barges, the Proprietors had a number of other boats built to carry out maintenance work on the river. The Wey carpenters had their own punt, which they would use in their travels up and down the river. Perhaps the most interesting boats were the 'lurgy boats'. Nobody knows exactly what these did, but they were probably connected with scouring the silt from the barge channel. There is a record of a new lurgy boat being built in 1774 by Richard Wilden for £79-6-10d. By comparing the expenditure for building a it with that of the barge called the 'Fly' (see above), it would seem that they were quite substantial boats, certainly much larger than the carpenters' punt.
In April 1832 the Godalming Commissioners ask George Marshall and William Elkins to repair the 'Old Taffy Boat' belonging to the Commissioners, and use it to clean up 'the Mead from the Guildford Arches' (GMR 142/1/2, p. 280). Marshall replied that the boat was not worth repairing, and that the 'wharfinger' should be asked to construct a 'square punt for the purpose of taking mud or Land from the River' (ibid., p. 284).
There is a gap of nearly 130 years before any further information on barge building becomes available on the Wey Navigation. Although tradition ascribes the building of the first Stevens' barge to the site of the Rowbarge public house near Stoke Bridge in 1840, most of their early barges were purchased from other owners. It was not until the early years of the 20th century that they showed any serious interest in building their own barges.
Edwin Edwards was a former barge-builder on the Kennet and Avon Canal who came to Dapdune in 1894. He died soon after, but from 1909 his sons began to build barges for W Stevens and Sons. The first barge to be launched here was called, appropriately, 'Dapdune'. Eleven barges are thought to have been made at Dapdune between 1909 and 1940 for the Stevens family. The last was 'Diligent'.
Although the Edwards family were building barges from 1909, it does not appear as if the facilities at Dapdune were expanded much before the First World War. Many of the new buildings on the site, such as the carbide store, and those intimately connected with the barge-building, such as the Nail Store, and enlarged barge shed, were built from 1916.
There are presently two of the old Edwards' barges on site at Dapdune. These are the recently-restored 'Reliance' and 'Perseverance IV'. 'Reliance' was a common name for Wey barges. J and J Wilkins owned a barge by this name in 1830, and there were a number of others by this name before the present 'Reliance' was built between May 1931 and June 1932. It was the ninth of the Stevens' barges. It hit Cannon Street Bridge broadside in July 1968, and sank. After being salvaged it was taken to Leigh-on-Sea, where it was salvaged by Vince Locatelli and his staff, and brought back to Dapdune in 1989.
'Perseverance IV' was the last in a long line of Stevens' barges by that name. It was built at Dapdune between 1934 and 1937, and is currently owned by the Museum of London. This barge was to be found at the time of writing just to the west of the exit to Dapdune Creek.
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It is clear that the coming of the railways in the 1840s and 1850s had a considerable impact on the trade of the Navigations. Initially the Navigations may have had some slight benefit from the construction phase, being used to carry materials. Once the railways had been completed, however, they took considerable trade away from the river. This was particularly devastating for the canals adjoining the Navigations such as the Wey and Arun and the Basingstoke Canals. This was particularly bad for the Wey and Arun Canal that lost nearly all of its small trade to the newly opened Guildford-Reigate and Guildford-Brighton lines in the 1850s and 1860s (Vine 1986, 190-91). The Basingstoke Canal continued for longer, contributing to the survival of the Wey Navigation. Nevertheless, the trade it retained gradually fell away in the early 20th century. In 1908 the brickworks at Nately Scures closed, and by 1913 it was no longer possible to reach Basingstoke. A coal trade to Woking of up to 30,000 tons per annum continued until 1936 greatly contributing to the Wey Navigation's tolls, but once this was gone, the remaining length of the Basingstoke Canal quickly closed to commercial traffic (Vine 1986, 209-10).
The Navigation survived the coming of the railways mainly because its trade was based on a stronger economic need, and the fact that it had its own integral water supply. This latter fact had enabled a number of mills to be set up along the Navigations that could be run from its waters. While the mills survived, it was generally more convenient for them to send their produce via the river than to get it to the railway.
The Godalming Navigation was perhaps hardest hit by the railways as its shorter length did not allow so much scope for water-powered industry. Furthermore, the arrival of trains in the centre of Godalming took away much of the trade at Godalming Wharf, one of the great mainstays of this reach. Admittedly, the trade at Stonebridge and Unstead was not so badly affected to begin with, but once the trade of the mills at Chilworth and Unstead had gone, there was nothing left to sustain this stretch.
The railways had an impact on the landscape of the Navigations as well as on its trade. Railway bridges and parallel embankments carrying track cut up many of the extensive views over the old meadowlands. This is particularly noticeable between St. Catherine's Hill and Peasmarsh where the line leaving Guildford for Portsmouth via Godalming emerges from the St. Catherine's Hill tunnel to run parallel with the river before branching off to cross it below Riff-Raffs Weir (Guildford-Reigate line) and near Peasmarsh Common (Guildford-Brighton line). A third crossing here is the spur line connecting the Reigate line with the Brighton line that was never completed. The original 19th-century wooden bridge carrying the Reigate line was an impressive sight according to old pictures. The piles of this bridge are still visible under the iron bridge that replaced it.
The Wey Navigation was most influenced where the London and Woking lines converged on the north side of the town. In 1856 the river had to be diverted near Woodbridge to accommodate the Woking line (Dapdune Archives W115.2), taking a board bend out of its course. In 1884 the London and South Western Railway Company built a the fine brick viaduct over the river at Woodbridge for the Surbiton to Guildford line (Dapdune Archives W150). In Guildford itself, a number of chalk pits on the west bank of the Navigation were incorporated into the cuttings made for the railway station, and the goods sidings and engine sheds that followed.
The rise of the motor car has led to the gradual decline of the railways. This was hastened in 1963 by the extensive closures made under the Beeching Plan. By this time the fate of the Navigation had been sealed by the successive closure of the mills along its length that had enabled it to survive the 19th-century railway boom.
The railway lines connected with the Navigation, with their date of commencement, are as follows:
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These are based on provisional recommendations made by J Milln of Mercia Region for all National Trust vernacular buildings. However, it is considered that the special importance of the Navigations as industrial monuments merits some revision of the date ranges originally suggested here. Milln considered that the year 1750 should be taken as the primary date for considering a building's importance. These recommendations have revised this to 1800 to take account of the very considerable corpus of built structures on the Navigations dating to the period between 1750 and 1800 (e.g. the lock-houses).
To begin with a set of guidelines for all buildings in National Trust care pre-dating 1945 are given, followed by specific recommendations for special types of building.
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9.2.1 For all buildings pre-dating 1945
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9.2.2 For all buildings pre-dating 1800
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9.2.3 For all buildings of more than one structural build post-dating 1800
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9.2.4 For all single-build post-1800 buildings
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9.2.5 All buildings after 1945
No survey or archaeological work required. In most cases the retention of a photographic record, with notes, should be sufficient.
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The archaeological inventory is but a summary of a more detailed record kept on the National Trust archaeological database at their offices at 33 Sheep Street Cirencester. Many of the authors private notes etc will be deposited in the property archives at Dapdune. All original photographs taken were sent to Cirencester as a preliminary to being added to the collections at Dapdune.
Copies of this report were deposited at:
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The author is grateful to all National Trust staff members who assisted in this project. In particular Philip Claris, archaeological adviser to the Trust, Stephen Walker, the Managing Agent and his assistant Gerald FitzGerald, who made frequent comments on early drafts of the text, and gave much additional assistance. Richard Bate of Green Balance acted as Project Manager. Bob Nicholls, Property Manager, gave access to the archives at Dapdune. The staff of the Guildford Muniment Room gave exceptional service in the production of the many hundreds of documents seen as part of the research for this report. The author would like to thank the numerous lengthsmen, wardens and volunteers who answered the author's many questions.
These acknowledgements would not be complete without a sincere acknowledgement of the help given to this project by Vince Locatelli, the maintenance foreman to the property, and Alan Wardle, an exceptional National Trust volunteer who has done considerable work on the history of the Property. The amount of personal knowledge, expertise, advice and time that they gave to the author can never be properly acknowledged in words. Their knowledge and understanding of the Navigations is impossible to quantify.
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In the Surrey Record Office, Kingston-upon-Thames (SRO):
SRO 2113/1b Map of Pyrford c. 1630
SRO 180/2a Map of Ham Court Manor, 1732
SRO Harris/Richardson map of Guildford, 1739
SRO 83/1/13 Map of Ham Court Manor, 1778
SRO 176/22/5 Map of Ham Court Manor, 1817-20
SRO 2784/51/4/12 Map of Crown lands at Weybridge, between Weybridge Lock and Black Boy Bridge (south bank), 1799
SRO 602/1/114 Map of James Sparks' estates in Byfleet, Pyrford, and Chertsey, 1825
Seller's map of Surrey, 1690
Senex's map of Surrey, 1729
Rocque's map of Surrey, 1768
Lindley & Crosley's map of Surrey, 1793
Greenwood's map of Surrey, 1823
QS 6/4/9 Byfleet & Weybridge Enclosure Map, 1801
QS 6/4/19 Pyrford Enclosure Map, 1806
QS 6/4/10 Godalming Enclosure map, 1808
Tithe map and awards:
Tithe map & award for Byfleet, 1840
Tithe map & award for Godalming, 1844
Tithe map & award for Ockham, 1838
Tithe map & award for Pyrford, 1844
Tithe map & award for St. Nicholas parish, Guildford, 1841
Tithe map & award for Send and Ripley, 1844
Tithe map & award for Shalford, 1845
Tithe map & award for Stoke-by-Guildford, 1842
Tithe map & award for Sutton, 1848
Tithe map & award for Weybridge, 1843
Tithe map & award for Woking, 1841
Tithe map & award for Worplesdon, 1838
Ordnance Survey maps:
1st edition, 1" map, sheet viii (1811)
1st edition, 6" maps, sheet xi (1872), xvii (1872), xxiii (1873), xxiv (1873), xxxi (1873)
In the Guildford Muniment Room (GMR):
The main collections for the Wey Navigations falls into three main archives. These are given below. A full list is held by the National Trust, and at the Guildford Muniment Room. These records are extremely numerous, and it is not considered necessary to repeat the full list here. The documents listed below are those that are considered to have been the most useful in compiling this report.
The main collections are:
GMR 129/1-149 Records of the Wey Navigation c. 1653-1970
GMR 137/1-13 Records of Wm Stevens & Sons, barge owners and coal merchants 1814-1969; this firm became sole owners of the Navigation from 1930
GMR 142/1-8 Records of the Godalming Navigation c. 1758-1969
There are other assorted documents relating to aspects of the Navigation to be found in the various record offices. The most important of those at Guildford are:
GMR 65/ Weston family papers
GMR 1493/1-6 records of the National Trust relating mainly to the finances of the Navigations from 1964-71
GMR 1496 Report on the River Wey, 1928, by C H J Clayton for Surrey County Council, with maps
GMR 1647/1-15 Fifteen files of old correspondence regarding the years c. 1931-79
Other occasional sources can be found in:
Records of the Wey Navigation
GMR 129/7/1-6a General account books for the Navigation from 1724. These are very useful documents giving details such as the major repairs carried out each year, the names of wharfingers and lock-keepers, and details of leases etc.
GMR 129/10/38 Documents including a useful plan showing new cut at Papercourt Lock, 1781.
GMR 129/10/78-79 Articles of agreement concerning the setting up of Saw Mills at Black Boy Bridge, 1843-44.
GMR 129/10/81 Plan of area around Thames Lock, 1847, following resolution of dispute with Ham Mills.
GMR 129/10/95 Plan of Dapdune, 1905, shows site still relatively undeveloped.
GMR 129/10/132 Sale notice for building on Parvis Wharf, 1807 & 1840
GMR 129/13/6 Letter regarding repair of New Haw Wharf, 1795.
GMR 129/13/21 Letter about poaching of fish, 1802.
GMR 129/13/56 Letter about lime works at St. Catherine's Hill, 1823.
GMR 129/14/10 Report by Jago about repairs needed at Coxes, 1822.
GMR 129/19/30 Timber taken out of Dapdune by land, 1796.
GMR 129/27/1 Timber used for repairs, 1798.
GMR 129/21/69 Letter from Alex Raby about building a corn mill at Coxes, 1783.
GMR 129/22/12 Letter regarding work at Walsham Bay and Pyrford Lock, 1796.
GMR 129/22/21 Letter about repairs to Walsham Gates, 1795.
GMR 129/22/70 Letter about renewing agreement over Coxes Mill's use of water, 1798.
GMR 129/22/79 Letter about proposed repairs at Bowers Lock, 1798.
GMR 129/26/33 Instructions to wharfingers and lock-keepers on the Wey Navigation, late 18th century.
GMR 129/26/43 Copy of County Chronicle reporting poaching of fish, 1802.
GMR 129/27/13 Letter about enclosure of Send Heath, 1804.
GMR 129/27/14 Letter about wharf at Send Heath, 1804.
GMR 129/29/21 Papers about Guildford & Dapdune Wharves, and barge sinking at Walsham, 1799.
GMR 129/29/34 Letter about repairs to lime wharf at St. Catherine's Hill, 1800.
GMR 129/29/38 Letter from William Talmadge regarding renting Dapdune Wharf, 1800.
GMR 129/29/54 Plan of Dapdune, c. 1800.
GMR 129/29/55 Letter about gift of fish from Navigation, 1800.
GMR 129/29/58 Letter about lime kiln at Coxes Lock, 1800.
GMR 129/29/59 Plan of Coxes Lock, showing lime kiln cut into the bank, 1800.
GMR 129/30/1-7 Letters about Dapdune, 1800.
GMR 129/30/17 Letter about Pyrford Bridge and a gift of fish caught there, 1801.
GMR 129/32/9 Agreement about carriage of chalk, 1803.
GMR 129/37/9 Letter about Mangles' new house at Woodbridge, and carriage of materials on the river, 1802.
GMR 129/39/16 Case papers about the rights of landowners to make trunks, 1786.
GMR 129/43/8 Letter about sand blocking mouth of Wey, 1795
GMR 129/44/29 Note about repairs at Triggs Lock, 1702.
GMR 129/44/37 Letter about mills, loading timber in Stoke etc., 1704.
GMR 129/44/38 Letter about goods from Newark, and Dapdune Wharf being full, 1704.
GMR 129/44/40 Letter about repairs at Stoke Lock not harming trade, 1704.
GMR 129/44/55 Letter regarding renting land for timber store at Hoggenfield, and repairs at Walsham, 1705.
GMR 129/45/33 List of workmen still owed money after construction of Navigation, August 1654.
GMR 129/45/50 Letter about repairs, 1724; short note only, refers to locks at Thames, Coxes, Pyrford and New Haw.
GMR 129/46/1 Articles of agreement regarding carriage of lime, 1776.
GMR 129/46/13 List of barges and barge masters working the Wey, 1776.
GMR 129/48/4 Directions to wharfingers about tolls on lime and chalk, 1802.
GMR 129/48/5 Licence to Alex Raby to carry lime from New Haw, 1803.
GMR 129/49/1 Details of repairs to trunks in 1786.
GMR 129/49/3-4 Lists of flowing trunks under the Navigation, made c. 1786; most detailed lists available of these features.
GMR 129/52/25 Release regarding ground to build new lock at Papercourt, 1787.
GMR 129/57/2 Survey of Navigation, 1661; disappointing detail.
GMR 129/62/9 Notes about activities at New Haw and places nearby in the 1670s.
GMR 129/63/7 List of lands cut through in 1650s, and what was left unpaid for.
GMR 129/63/8 18th-century? list of bridges
GMR 129/63/9 Useful list of property through which the Navigation passed when built; probably a later copy.
GMR 129/63/10 List of bridges in 1748?; useful list.
GMR 129/63/11 Release concerning Guildford Wharf, 1676.
GMR 129/63/20 Repairs carried out by J Smith over 21 years, 1736; list main features on Navigation that will need attending to; useful document.
GMR 129/64/21 Case papers about a paddock in Ham Haw Park c. 1799.
GMR 129/67/2 Abstract from lease of Ham Mill granted to Jukes Coulson, n.d., but c. 1790-1800.
GMR 129/67/22-24 Letters about cutting trees near Black Boy Bridge, 1810.
GMR 129/68/13 Request by Lord Portmore for fish, 1820.
GMR 129/69/1 Application to renew licence for water at Coxes Mill, 1810.
GMR 129/70/17 Letter about Raby's fear that new mill would be erected at New Haw following enclosure, c. 1806.
GMR 129/71/4 Notice from Mr Bunn claiming New Haw Lockhouse, 1825.
GMR 129/74 Survey of Navigation, 1775; good source for features along Navigation.
GMR 129/76/2 Repairs around Weybridge and Thames Lock, 1778-79.
GMR 129/76/6 Subscription list for widening Guildford Bridge, plus account of how the money was spent, 1827.
GMR 129/78 Manager's notebook? 1776-1873; miscellaneous information about agreements, trunks, leases etc.
GMR 129/79/1 Thames Lock-keeper's notebook; contains much useful information, mainly 1769-1840s.
GMR 129/81 Memorandum of events around Thames Lock 1780s-1820s; only occasionally useful.
GMR 129/83/1-20 Series of documents about leasing Dapdune, c. 1671-1880.
GMR 129/86/1-3 Notice about opening and closing of mill sluices at Stoke, Woking and Newark, 1828-29.
GMR 129/86/4 Proposals to deepen Navigation to alleviate problem of the mills taking water, 1830.
GMR 129/86/5 Account of detailed scourings on the navigation, 1827-30.
GMR 129/87 Notebook of William Stevens II, mid 19th century; only occasionally useful.
GMR 129/90/1-10 notes on Navigation by William Stevens? gives approximate date of building of Coulson's Bay and date of building of Thames lock-house as 1765.
GMR 129/92/2 Extract listing tenants at Ham Mills, 1691-1854.
GMR 129/95/1-24 Letters about dispute between Ham mills and Navigation in 1840s; also brief mention of Saw Mills at Black Boy Bridge, 1846.
GMR 129/105 Memorandum Book, 1845-54; useful book full of details of repair work, list of bridges and other features on Navigation, plus an account of the tolls 1811-49.
GMR 129/107/1 Survey of Navigation, 1826; detailed source of condition of entire navigation, dimensions of locks etc.
GMR 129/107/2 Survey of Navigation, 1843; as above but of lesser importance.
GMR 129/107/3 Survey of Navigation, 1845; as above.
GMR 129/107/4 Survey of Navigation, 1858; as above.
GMR 129/111/1 Account of repairs on navigation from 1861 to 1893; very useful details of locks in their transition period between being converted from mainly timber structures to concrete; also accounts of cutting of alder wood and withies on navigation, 1890-91.
GMR 129/112/1-7 Materials for repair at Thames Lock, with inventory of timber in Navigation workshops, 1883.
GMR 129/129 'Millers' indenture', 1832; agreement between millers and Proprietors over use of water.
GMR 129/136/4 Statement about the tumbling bay at Walsham, 1837.
GMR 129/141/4 Sale Catalogue for the Wey Navigation, 1888; detailed list of all property and features associated with the Navigation.
GMR 129/142/1-23 Sales catalogues of property along the Navigation. In particular:
Records of the Stevens family:
GMR 137/12/1 Details of work on Navigation mainly in first part of 19th century.
GMR 137/12/40 Account of repairs from c. 1905-1930s; very useful document, more good details of transition period for locks; further accounts of alder and withies.
Records of the Godalming Navigation:
GMR 142/1/1-4 Minutes of meetings of the Commissioners of the Godalming Navigation c. 1760-1900.
GMR 142/2/1 Journal A, account book of goods carried on Godalming Navigation, 1774-84; extremely detailed lists
Maps and plans:
GMR 129/143/13 Plan of Wey Navigation 1782
GMR 129/143/1-10 Jago's map of the Wey Navigation, 1823
GMR Copy X/80/1-10 Copy of the above
GMR 129/143/6 Plan of area around Thames Lock c. 1802
GMR 142/8/1 A plan of the proposed Godalming Navigation, c. 1758/59
GMR 142/8/2 Plan of part of Godalming Wharf c. 1800
GMR 142/8/4 Plan of the Godalming Navigation, 1834
GMR 142/8/5 Plan of the Godalming Wharf, 1900
GMR 1493/6/1 Plan of proposed flood drainage scheme 'River Wey Improvements', 1928
In the Guildford local studies library:
Ordnance Survey maps 25" scale, 1870/81, 1896, 1912 and 1934 editions (sheet xxiii.16)
Ordnance Survey map 1:500 scale, 1871 ed. (sheet xxiii.16.13)
In the Surrey Archaeological Society's Collections at Castle Arch, Guildford:
Map of the Wey and Godalming Navigations and Basingstoke Canal, 1790
PF/GFD/266 Printed pamphlet 'A Short Narrative of the proceedings concening the making the River Wey Navigable, and the severall transactions since it begun unto this time, beeing November 1657'
In the Hampshire Record Office (HRO):
HRO 102M71/P1 John More's map of the River Itchen, Hampshire, 1618; made to demonstrate the impediments to navigation at that date.
National Trust archives at Dapdune:
Harry Stevens' Journal; copied accounts of repairs made to features on the Navigations c. 1905-68; unpublished typescript, 245pp.
Photographic Collection: large collection of photographs of the navigations from the late 19th century to the present; this is one of the finest collections of photographs of any national Trust property; the photographs are code listed 'A', 'B', 'C' through to 'Z', followed by numbers of individual photos. Each letter usually represents a common source or individual collection that has been obtained by the Trust.
Deeds and other documents relating to title to the Navigations. These are numbered W001-275 for the Wey Navigation, and G001-111 for the Godalming Navigation. They included documents and copies of documents ranging from a copy of the Act of 1671 through to the most recent leases and agreements. Those referenced in this report are listed below, although there are many others worthy of notice to future researchers:
W015 Lease of landing place and use of water for a saw mill near Black Boy Bridge, 1900
W016 Documents relating to the rebuilding of Chamberlands Bridge, 1921-39
W039 Agreement over widening of bridge at Woodbridge, 1912
W073 Right of way over Black Boy Bridge for Thames River Grit Co. to carry extracted materials over the river, 1956
W115.2 Transfer of land to build Guildford-Woking railway, plus diversion of river, 1856
W172.1-4 Deeds regarding the leasing of Parvis Wharf and the Grist Mill, 1983-86
W176.2-3 Deeds investing the Wey Navigation with the National Trust, 1964-71
W213 Document relating to transfer of Dapdune Lea to Miss M J Stevens, 1894
W215 Sale of freehold of Dapdune Wharf to William Stevens III, 1905
W217 Conveyance of Friary Wharf in Guildford to William Stevens, 1890
W218 Purchase of Grist Mill at Parvis Wharf from Miss Anne Yeowell by William Stevens III, 1903
W221 Assignment of moiety of Dapdune House to John Stevens, 1882
W222 Assignment of the other moiety of Dapdune House acquired by John Stevens in 1902, transferred to William Stevens III in 1917
G063-071 Deeds of sale by the National Trust for various portions of Godalming Wharf, 1984-89
Documents at Queen Anne's Gate, London
There is a collection of deeds of title to the Navigations at this office. Nearly all have copies in the Dapdune archive. These are listed under 'Deed Packet 1030'.
Documents in the British Waterways Archives at Gloucester
Although limited from the documentary point of view there are a large number of photographs in this archive. In particular there are 104 photographs of the Wey Navigations in the Arthur Watts Collection (taken c. 1951-71) held here. A summary listing of the archives at Gloucester has been attached to the Cirencester database. Details from the Archivist, British Waterways, Llanthony Warehouse, Gloucester Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EJ; tel. 01452-318000.
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H M Briggs (ed.), Surrey manorial accounts, Surrey Record Series no 37, vol. 15, Guildford, 1935
R North, A discourse of fish and fishponds, London, 1713
I Walton, The complete angler, London, 1653
S Wood (ed.), Domesday Book, Surrey, Chichester, 1975
M Alexander, 'The mills at Guildford', Surrey Archaeological Collections', lxxiv (1977), 91-99
D G Bird, 'The Romano-British period in Surrey', J & D G Bird (eds.), The archaeology of Surrey to 1540, Guildford, 1987, 165-196
M E Cornford, 'Weybridge', pp. 475-80, in H E Maldon (ed.), The Victoria History of the County of Surrey, vol. 3, London, 1911
H Carter, 'The Wey Navigation claims of 1671', Surrey Archaeological Collections', lxii (1965), 94-108
J C Cox, 'Newark Priory', pp. 102-05, in H E Maldon (ed.), The Victoria History of the County of Surrey, vol. 2, London, 1905
R A Collins, 'Chalk quarrying in Surrey c. 1800-1914. An historical analysis', Surrey Archaeological Collections', lxvi (1969), 41-69
S Corke, The Wey & Godalming Navigations. A short history with special reference to the origins of the Wey Navigation, unpublished typescript, presented to the National Trust, 1995
A & G Crocker, Catteshall Mill. A survey of the history and archaeology of an industrial site at Godalming, Surrey, Surrey Archaeological Society research report no. 8, Guildford, 1981
G Crocker (ed.), The Industrial Archaeology of Surrey, Guildford, 1990
N Crowe, Book of canals, London, 1994
C K Currie, 'A survey of Compton watermeadows', Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society newsletter, new series no. 14, (1990a), 10-11
C K Currie, 'Southwick Priory fishponds: excavations 1987', Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society, 50 (1990b), 53-72
C K Currie, 'The early history of the carp and its economic significance in England', Agricultural History Review, 39.ii (1991), 97-107
C K Currie, 'Saxon charters and landscape evolution in the south-central Hampshire Basin', Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society, 50 (1994), 103-25
C K Currie, Archaeological evaluation of the Graving Dock, Dapdune Wharf, Guildford, Surrey, report to the National Trust, 1995
C K Currie, Archaeological watching brief on soil stripping works at the Draw Dock, Dapdune Wharf, Guildford, Surrey, report to the National Trust, 1996
H C Darby, Domesday England, Cambridge, 1977
G Gabel, 'St. Catherine's Hill: a Mesolithic site near Guildford', Surrey Archaeological Society Research Volume, no. 3, Guildford, 1976, 77-101
J E B Gover, M Mawer, F M Stenton in collaboration with A Bonner, The place-names of Surrey, Cambridge, 1934
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Wey Navigation employees
The definition of a number of these job titles can not be given exactly. For instance it is difficult to work out the chain of command precisely before the reorganisation of the Wey Navigation that seems to have followed the opening of the Godalming Navigation in 1764. Before 1764, the job of 'agent' or 'manager' was often mixed up, and it seems that the men acting as manager were often performing an agent's tasks and vice-versa.
In the rural areas before 1764, most of the locks were the responsibility of the wharfingers. The appointment of permanent lock-keepers was a gradual affair. Even after 1764, it seems that many of the lock-keepers were expected to act as wharfingers on the nearest wharf. It seems that it was only after the rural wharves gradually fell out of use after the coming of the railways in the 1840s and 1850s that they lost this responsibility. Even then, there were many tasks that the lock-keepers performed that were not in their unofficial job descriptions.
By the end of the 18th century, the location of the lock-keepers had been finalised. A list of orders to the keepers defines their area of control. Before this date, exact boundaries were rather vague. The following list A gives the area of control of each keeper c. 1790 (GMR 129/26/33). List B gives the responsibilities as they were c. 1730.
List A c. 1790:
List B c. 1730
This list is based on information given in the earliest account book (GMR 129/7/1). It suggests that in the early days of the Navigation control of the locks was one of the tasks allotted to the wharfingers.
Although the later lists rely heavily on Vine (1986, 253-54), it should be noted that the location of employees listed by him may not be always correct. The same problems that Vine probably experienced in making his lists have been met by this compiler. For example, an employee is often listed at the beginning of his employment as working at Lock X or Y. He can often be found for the next few decades as being paid the same wage, but his job is not specifically listed. It is easy to assume he is still at Lock X, when he may have been moved. He may even have been moved to another lock for some years, before being moved back to Lock X. Although this has not been specifically encountered, it is a possibility that could cause errors to be inadvertently made.
It should also be noted here that the dates given are the dates in which these men are recorded in these jobs. They may have had the jobs earlier or later than the given dates, so they should not be taken as definitive.
Managers or Agents?
Note before 1764 there may have been two carpenters with different responsibilities.
Dapdune wharfinger or superintendent
The job description here tended to vary. Sometimes the term wharfinger was used, but more often the employee here was listed as 'accounting the timber'.
New Haw lock-keeper
Before 1765, this employee was often listed as wharfinger at New Haw.
Between Hancher and Glaysher there is a blank at this lock. In September 1775 a Thomas Collins is paid £2-10s for a quarter's unspecified work amongst the lock-keepers. As all the other lock-stations are accounted for this work may have been at New Haw. By the beginning of 1777 he has been replaced by William Wornham. Wornham seems to be replaced by Glaysher in the list in 1785. It is possible that Collins and Wornham looked after New Haw Lock in this interim period.
Walsham Bay lock-keeper
Before c. 1765 the lock-keeper for this stretch of the river was stationed at Pyrford, probably in the wharf house at Pigeon House Wharf.
The tenure of Walsham becomes confused after Dudman. His wife Sarah receives his wages for the quarter ending June 1777. The only new lock-keeper to replace her is William Wornham, but he may be looking after New Haw. In March 1780 a new name appears in Richard Gumnor. He is quickly replaced by September 1780 by Edward Wallis. By 1785 two further new lock-keepers appear, Stephen Jones and Robert Lockwood. Jones is replaced by James Williams in 1788. Williams is still being paid in 1808. None of these men can be linked with Walsham, although one or other of them must have replaced Dudman.
The next known lock-keeper at Walsham according to Vine (1986, 254) is James Percy from 1812-32. Percy first appears in December 1803 when he seems to replace William Hersey. Hersey's name first occurs in December 1797 (GMR 129/7/5a). If Percy was at Walsham in 1812, it is possible he takes over this post from Hersey in 1803. Unfortunately, it is not even possible to be sure Percy was at Walsham when Vine claims. According to the accounts, from at least June 1821 to March 1822 he was working at Papercourt (GMR 129/7/6a). It must be assumed that Vine is at least partly right, in that Percy did serve at Walsham at some time between 1812-32. The list below assumes this.
Before 1765 this lock was looked after by the Sendheath wharfinger.
Radnall is last mentioned specifically at Triggs in the early 1770s, but continues to work as a lock-keeper until at least March 1785. His place is taken by Jesse Payne, who is still employed by the Navigation in 1813. However, Vine (1986, 254) has Payne at Stoke Lock by 1800. It is not known if Payne replaced Radnall at Triggs, or if Radnall was still at Triggs in 1785.
Godalming Navigation employees
St. Catherine's lock-keeper
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The information given below was generously supplied by Alan Wardle.
PLA = Port of London Authority
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