Monday, 13 July 2009

Somerset Rivers 1

The River Sheppey has its source in a group of springs west of the village of Doulting, near Shepton Mallet in Somerset, England. It flows through the wetlands to the north of the Polden Hills and ultimately joins the River Brue.

From Doulting the Sheppey flows south west to Charlton, where parts of its course have been culverted. The river has been diverted underground for much, though not all, of its passage through Shepton Mallet. It reappears at Darshill and then flows south west through Croscombe to Dinder where it flows through the grounds of Dinder House which was built in 1801 and under a bridge which pre-dates the house. It then continues west past Dulcote, Woodford and Coxley.

River Sheppey at Darshill

From Coxley the river flows north through Hay Moor and North Moor, west through Ash Moor, then sharply south through Frogmore and west through Godney.
At Lower Godney the river is channelled through the James Wear River and the Decoy Rhine to Westhay Level where it joins Whites River and then the River Brue near Westhay.

The water quality is generally good however there have been some discharges from sewage treatment works in the area that can contribute to nutrient levels in rivers. Signs of nutrient enrichment are noticeable at times of low flow and the ecology of the Sheppey is adversely affected in its upper reaches.

It would appear that the Sheppey was only so-called in the late 19th century. Prior to then, if it was called anything, it was probably Doulting Water or the River Brae.
The Sheppey has been used in the past to power local industry, for example corn and textile mills in the Shepton Mallet area. There may have been more than thirty mills powered by the river and its tributaries in the area of Shepton Mallet, Bowlish and Darshill, although fewer than this number of sites have been positively identified

The River Somer is a small river in Somerset, England.
It rises at Chilcompton and flows to Midsomer Norton where it joins the Wellow Brook, which flows through Wellow and joins the Cam Brook at Midford to form Midford Brook before joining the River Avon close to the Dundas Aqueduct and the remains of the Somerset Coal Canal.

The River Tone / Thon**** is a river in Somerset, that flows through Taunton and joins the River Parrett.
The River Tone is about 21 miles (34 km) long. It rises at Beverton Pond near Huish Champflower in the Brendon Hills and flows through Curry and Hay Moors which are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. At the end of its journey it joins up with the River Parrett at Burrowbridge. An Act of Parliament in 1699 authorised work that made the river navigable as far as Taunton. The river was straightened in the 1960s to prevent future flooding of Taunton town.

River Tone at Taunton

The river has a long history of improvements to facilitate navigation from Bridgwater to Taunton, and has also been used to power mills along its length. These two objectives are often antagonistic, and this has been the case on the River Tone.
The earliest known record of improvements to the river is recorded in a document of 1325 from the Dean and Chapter of Wells Cathedral, where it was proposed to widen the river between Ham Mill and a new mill which was to be built at Knapp. The Dean and Chapter owned the river as far as Athelney weir, which was presumably a fish weir, as the river was an important source of fish for the local population. Records from 1494 record the intent to build a new mill at North Curry, which was operational in 1504, and caused flooding in 1505, resulting in the Bishop of Winchester having to complain to the Dean and Chapter of Wells. There is also mention of boats using the river at this time, as their use was restricted by the construction of the new mill at Ham

Clatworthy Dam

The river rises at Beverton Pond, at an elevation of 1,230 ft (370 m), to the west of the B3190 road from Watchet to Bampton, and near to Huish Champflower barrow, an ancient earthworks, and the derelict incline of the West Somerset Mineral Railway. Over its first 1.8 miles (2.9 km) it follows a south-easterly course and drops around 490 feet (150 m) before discharging into Clatworthy reservoir, which also impounds the waters of 5 other streams. The reservoir is an important wildlife habitat managed by Wessex Water, and offers facilities for fishing and walking.
The river continues as the outflow from the main dam of the reservoir, passing to the west of the village of Clatworthy before following a southerly course which passes to the east of Huish Champflower. The river enters a steeply wooded section at Washbattle bridge, with the Dearne Valley Way footpath on its eastern bank. The B3227 road from Wiveliscombe crosses from the east to the west side of the valley at Waterrow bridge, before heading westwards to Bampton, after which a former railway line crossed the river on its way to Taunton. By the time it reaches Stawley bridge and turns south-east, it has lost another 410 ft (120 m) and is just 330 ft (100 m) above sea level. At Tracebridge, the river turns to the north-east and then the north. Here the course of the derelict Grand Western Canal joins it.

1800 Map of Ham Mills and others

The river passes over weirs at Greenham, Tone and Nynehead, after which it is crossed by the aqueduct of the Grand Western Canal and the railway, both on their own routes to Taunton. A disused bridge, constructed in 1817, which carried the drive to Nynehead Court spans the river at Nynehead, and was Grade II listed in 1956. The river turns to the north-east near Bradford on Tone, with its two Grade II listed bridges, originally built in the 15th century, and then to the east near Upcott bridge, where there were two mills. At Roughmoor its course is crossed by Silk Mills Road. A "Park and Ride" car park is situated just to the north, and there is a scheme to make the river navigable from here to the town centre as a way of encouraging transport with less environmental impact. Project Taunton, which is managing the regeneration of Taunton applied for a Big Lottery grant to fund this development, but were not successful, and so it may take longer to achieve.

A footbridge crosses the top of French Weir at Taunton

Soon the river reaches French weir, the head of navigation. As it makes its way through the town centre to Firepool weir and the junction with the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, it passes under the North Bridge, constructed in 1895 are including globe lamps which are thought to be part of the earliest electric street lighting scheme in a British town, and Priory Bridge Road. Next comes the A358 Obridge viaduct, the A38 Bathpool Bridge and the M5 motorway bridge. Firepool weir was reconstructed in 1967 as part of the plans to straighten the river through the town centre and down to Bathpool in order to provide better flood defences. These works swept away the remains of the original navigation. A disused five-arched railway bridge built in 1863 and the aqueduct that carried the Chard Canal over the river, used from 1842 until 1866, still stand, followed by the bridge at Creech St Michael. Ham weir stands as a reminder of the location of the lock there. After Knapp bridge, built in 1820 and Grade II listed, the sluice at Newbridge marks the upper tidal limit of the river. Two more bridges at Athelney and Stanmoor cross the river before it joins the River Parrett at Burrowbridge. The junction is overshadowed by Burrow Mump, a prominent hill with a ruined chapel on the top.

Water Mills
Ham Mills was a site of milling activity from mediaeval times until about 1914. The mill was situated on an island in the middle of the river, with a weir and bypass channel to the north and the lock channel to the south. The Conservators were required to light the area after a boatman fell into the river and drowned while attempting to use the lock after dark in March 1826. The coroner who instructed that the lighting should be installed noted that "boats were passing at all hours of the night." Water levels in the river fell as more water was extracted further upstream, and by the 1890s the waterwheels were assisted by a steam-driven turbine which the miller installed. Milling ceased in 1914, when the boiler which supplied the steam was removed by the War Department, so that it could be fitted into a minesweeper. A surviving mill house which dates from the early 19th century has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building.

New Bridge Across the River Tone

Milling at Bathpool had a chequered history. There had been a mill at this location for several centuries, which had been rebuilt or adapted as required. In March 1812, the structure was burnt down by a fire, caused, according to the Taunton Courier, by "the excessive friction excited in the stones used in the process of shelling clover seeds". Stocks of flour, grain and flax valued at £2,500 were destroyed. The mill was rebuilt and later owned by Captain George Beadon. The mill was purchased by Thomas Redler in 1889 on the death of Beadon, but another fire damaged much of it two years later. Redler rebuilt it with safety in mind, and as at Ham, installed a steam-driven turbine as water levels were often inadequate to power the wheels. Two more turbines followed, and the water wheels were removed. Steam from the turbines was also used to heat bread ovens, which were amongst the first in the country to be heated in this way. In September 1915, another fire gutted the building, which was not rebuilt, and the ruins were demolished in the 1920s.
There were originally mills at Firepool and Obridge as well. Because of the difficulties of navigating past the mill pools, the Conservators of the River Tone decided to buy the mill at Firepool in December 1793 with a view to demolishing it "for the benefit of the navigation", and they obtained it for just £32. In 1797, they decided to follow the same course with Obridge Mill.
The mill at Creech St Michael was the subject of a court action at the King's Bench. In October 1830, while replacing the mill stones, the millers had opened the flood gates for 16 days, and built a dam across the river, thus preventing navigation. The case was heard in 1831, and the judgement was that both parties were obligated to use the water in a way that did not injure the other party

The Wellow brook is a small river in Somerset, England.

Pack Horse Bridge over Wellow Brook

It rises to the south of Kilmersdon where it is joined by the River Somer and flows through Wellow before joining the Cam Brook at Midford to form Midford Brook before joining the River Avon close to the Dundas Aqueduct.
Along its length are the remains of the Somerset Coal Canal which served the Somerset coalfield.
The valley sides are rounded and undulating through erosion. There are several springs dotted along the valley sides and the resultant streams are often lined with trees. The junction of the valley sides with the base is usually gentle and rounded and the valley floors are narrow but flat with the brooks meandering freely across their flood plain. The brook is quite deep in places and frequently has steep sides. This was taken advantage of in making anti-tank defences during World War II when a large number of concrete bunkers known as pillboxes were built as part of the GHQ Line to defend against an expected German invasion.

The Washford River rises at 600 feet (183 m) near Luxborough in the Brendon Hills and flows through Somerset to the Bristol Channel at Watchet.
The river valley passes through the Cleeve Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The West Lyn is a river which rises high in Exmoor, Somerset, and joins the East Lyn at Lynmouth in Devon.
The upper reaches have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, because of the geomorphological landforms created in the 1952 flood.
The lower reaches of the river towards Lynmouth are known as the Glen Lyn Gorge. This has been turned into a tourist attraction, which includes a museum about the water cycle and the floods of 1952 and a small hydroelectric plant has been installed.

Torrent at Glen Lyn Gorge

Waterfall on the Yeo, South West of Wrington

The River Yeo (often referred to as the Congresbury Yeo, after the village of Congresbury, through which it flows, to avoid confusion with other similarly-named rivers) is a river which flows through North Somerset, England.

River course
The river rises in the centre of Compton Martin village, in the district of Bath and North East Somerset, as a spring which feeds the village duckpond. From there it flows past the village of Ubley and enters Blagdon Lake, which was created in the 1890s by damming the river, just north of the village of Blagdon. From the lake the river flows south of Wrington and Iwood, where there was once one of several watermills along the river. It then flows around the northern outskirts of Congresbury, and crosses Congresbury Moor roughly parallel to the A370 road, past the site of a Roman villa. It then crosses under the M5 motorway and empties into the Severn Estuary in Clevedon Bay, downstream from Clevedon and west of the village of Kingston Seymour.
Close to the mouth on the Severn Estuary on land owned by Environment Agency and leased by the Avon Wildlife Trust are Blake's Pools which were dug between 1983 and 1987 to attract wildlife. It forms part of the Severn Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area and Ramsar site.

River Ivel at Ilchester

Flood prevention and conservation
The river falls within the area of the West Mendip Internal Drainage Board, which has a range of policies and guidance about flood prevention and conservation in the area.
The River Yeo, also known as the River Ivel, or River Gascoigne is a tributary of the River Parrett in north Dorset and south Somerset, England.
The river's names derive from the Celtic river-name gifl 'forked river'. The name Yeo appears to have been influenced by Old English ēa 'river'.
The river rises in Dorset, in the North Dorset Downs. It flows through Sherborne, and the Somerset towns of Yeovil, Yeovilton and Ilchester, and joins the River Parrett near Langport. For a few miles east of Yeovil, it forms the county boundary between Somerset and Dorset.
The river is navigable for light craft for 8 miles (13 km) from the Parrett to Ilchester.
The Yeo's tributaries include the River Wriggle, Trent Brook, Hornsey Brook, the River Cam and Bearley Brook.

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