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The River Wye



River Wye Survey - part 1

Thursday 28th September, 2006 - Lucksall to Hoarwithy

First leg of a two-part voyage. River Wye -  Survey of navigation sites, river crossings and riverside buildings by canoe. Second leg was on Saturday 7th October. Right - launching from Lucksall, Fownhope

The Ox Ford, the Warehouse and Wharf kept by John Wheatstone in 1774, other wharfs and a Bark House at Even Pits were all identified later as they lay upstream from Lucksall where the canoe survey began.

The Ox Ford of 1835, previously called James Ford in 1799, between the parishes of Hampton Bishop and Holme Lacy.

In 1643 about 2,500 parliamentary soldiers under the command of Sir William Waller left Gloucester, passed through Ross and by Fownhope, and on 24th of April at daybreak, approached the Hereford. They had used one of the fords across the Wye near Fownhope to avoid a cavalry picket at Mordiford Bridge. They re-crossed the river here and went on to capture Hereford.



what remains of the wharf at Holme Lacy Bridge



Even Pitts bark house, Fownhope



old warehouse at Even Pitts



Holme Lacy Bridge of 1973 replacing the one of 1857 could be seen upstream together with the former Even Pits Ferry crossing in use before 1857.

The Net House of 1840 was not seen on the Holme Lacy side, but a possible wharf site at Shipley near the Hom (later Shipley) Ferry of 1754 was identified.



collecting the toll on Holme Lacy Bridge between the wars


The possible wharf site at Shipley



Fiddler's Green Fownhope

Substantial remains of a wharf were found along a bank adjacent to Church Road in Holme Lacy. The SMR describe it as a 'stone wall with white mortar about 6 m in length’, and on the Fownhope side the buildings of Nathanial Purchase’s 18th century Brewery were clearly visible together with the Barkhouse and Yard site at Lechmere Ley, where a boat once steered barges around this dangerous bend.

The wharf at Holme Lacy

Several islands were encountered along the course of the river, which appeared to coincide with the sitting of mills. There was little evidence at Mill Farm apart from the name to suggest the Fownhope Mill and Weir of 1697, but apparently at low water old timber has been identified, but the islands and buildings of 1763 were unnoticeable. This was also the site of the Old Mill Ford, one of four crossings that were ‘stopped up’ under the terms of the Holme Lacy Bridge Act. The site of Fownhope Ferry of 1835 and its boatman’s house were later identified near a Coal Yard of 1763 later know as Locken Stock. There was a boat at Leabrink where a shelf of rock of 1697 is still visible and overlooked by a dwelling that was a pair of empty cottages in 1921.

Mill Farm, Fownhope


site of Fownhope Ferry



Fownhope boathouse






The Wye bends around a rocky stretch formerly shown as islands at Blackwall Ditch in Bolstone the site of Aburttaretts Mill of 1571 later known as Hancock’s Weir and Mill when beyond repair in 1697. The Ballingham Boat was recorded by Lamont in 1922, but it seems an unlikely place for a crossing. At Mancell’s Ferry the Rocks of 1799 was the ferryman’s house, and a sunken part of the bank may have been the slipway.  Below the wooded slopes of Capler was an ancient ford called Dunsford in the 13th century, and known more recently as Alford. The wharfs at Capler were sited further south than expected  beyond the Dean and Chapter Quarries.   Between Ballingham and Brockhampton was a crossing in 1780 known as Yearly’s Boat.

Hancock's Weir, Bolstone



Hancock's Weir



The ferryman's cottage at Mancell's Ferry



Possible slipway at Mancell's Ferry



The site of Capler Ford



Capler Wharf



and at Cary Islands, Kings Caple



The Carey Islands provided the most excitement, fast water was running in channels between the three overgrown and rocky islands, where weirs and fish traps had once existed. Carey Mill dates from the 13th century, and was two water-mills in 1528, but from around 1628 it was converted into an iron forge. In 1697 the stone weir was eight foot high, but by 1763 it was out of use and called Carey Old Mill. .



The Railway Bridge at Ballingham was in use between 1855 and 1964, and replaced the Carey Boat of 1835, and an 18th century ford known as James Ford.



The cottage on the left bank was owned by the River Wye Towing Path Company which was established after the Act of 1809

Biblets Islands at Hoarwithy were dramatically outlined on a map by Isaac Taylor in 1763 but have long since been filled in.  The horses of the Towing Path Company crossed at the Biblets to join the path on the other bank, and on the left bank below Aramstone was the Water Engine of 1779. In the mid 19th century Hoarwithy had an upper timber yard and a malthouse on the riverside above Hoarwithy Bridge. The original timber bridge was built in 1856 then replaced in 1876 and 1990. An important crossing at Hoarwithy has been documented since at least the 14th century, and became known as the Horse Ferry in 1842. A short distance below the bridge was a previously unknown wharf before reaching  Hoarwithy Ford crossing the river in a diagonal line to Kings Caple. This was stopped up under the terms of the  Hoarwithy Bridge Act of 1855.

Bibletts on the boundary between Ballingham and Hentland. It is a name associated with the river, and found in a similar form in other parishes. This view in March 2006 shows high water marking the old islands.




The area on the Kings Caple tithe map



In summer 2005



Hoarwithy bridge and toll-house


Hoarwithy toll-bridge in operation

At Hoarwithy there was no indication of the lower Timber Yard of 1842 before reaching the steeps of Rocks Common where the commoners have fishing rights. The Bark House and ricks were owned by the Chepstow Bark Company in 1799, and at low water a wharf is visible. Overgrowth obstructed any sight of Red Rail Ford an ancient crossing recorded in the 15th century, and the wharfs on either side at Hoarwithy and Kings Caple of the mid 19th century were unnoticed. Overgrown sandstone quarries at Hoarwithy were not visible from the river, and the ‘Wharfage for Timber’ of  1863 at Shepponhill was difficult to identify.

Hoarwithy wharf


Rocks Common


The Bark House, Hoarwithy


Red Rail Ford


the ‘Wharfage for Timber’ of  1863 at Shepponhill was difficult to identify


Saturday 7th October, Hoarwithy to Wilton

The second leg of the project's survey of the River Wye. One of the canoes at Fawley.




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This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.