Author Topic: Cuckmere River  (Read 1962 times)

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Online pomme homme

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2023, 16:31:47 pm »
From the notes of G. F. Randall (in the Sussex Archaeological Society library, Lewes):

'Plans were made to render the Cuckmere navigable to Horsebridge, but they were abandoned.'

Randall gives the source of this information as 'Horsefield [sic] 1835'. However Roger Sellman thinks that this may have been an erroneous reference, by Thomas Horsfield, to a proposal to make Glynde Reach navigable and continue that navigation by way of a canal to Horsebridge and Hellingly (see here).

According to Charles Hadfield ('The Canals of South and South East England'), in 1813 it was suggested that the Cuckmere River should be made navigable from the tideway to Horsebridge.

Offline ChrisL

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2024, 10:43:42 am »
Just adding this to canalmaponline so it'll be there on the next update that gets done.
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Offline ChrisL

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2024, 11:10:03 am »
Just found this on faceache, credit Graham Hawthorn.

36. Michelham Priory and The Cuckmere Navigation
 
Michelham Priory was founded in 1229 by Augustinian canons and the cruciform outline of the building can be seen, in this LiDAR image, to the east of the island created by the moat. (Grid Reference TQ559093 https://w3w.co/bottle.covertly.lectured ) It had a turbulent history and by 1398 was said to be in a ruinous condition. In 1557 whatever remained was dissolved by Henry VIII and the church was demolished in 1599. The church building was constructed using Caen limestone from north-west France. To get the stone to the site the river had to be canalised and a straight section can be seen leading from the priory site with the original meanders in the surrounding fields. The first canal in Britain is believed to be the Fossdyke Navigation built by the Romans but the pound lock which was invented in China in 983 was not used in England until the construction of the Exeter Canal in 1566. The Cuckmere Navigation used a more primitive flash lock. Flash locks, are simple movable barriers across the river. The barriers, or lock-gates, slow the water flow and allow water to build up behind the gate. When the gate is opened, a boat going downstream will be carried smoothly over by the surge of water.
 
However, a boat heading upstream would have to be hauled through against the flow. A drawing of one of these locks on the Thames is one of the illustrations here. The actual process of getting the stones from France to the Priory is lost to history but my interpretation is that sea going vessels would bring the rock to West Dean where there had been a port in the time of King Alfred. At that port the stone would be offloaded onto smaller barges which would be propelled up much of the route by the tide before being hauled to the building site. As a navigation the right of passage still remains by boats and in 1997 myself and a couple of friends were able to canoe to within a couple of hundred yards of the priory. It was a dry summer and the flash locks that would have aided our final stretch had since decayed! The Cuckmere remains as one of jewels of the South Downs National Park and long may it remain so.
Information found on the following sites,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelham_Priory
https://historicengland.org.uk/.../the.../list-entry/1017721
https://www.encyclopedia.com/.../development-canal-locks
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caen_stone
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Offline ChrisL

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2024, 09:38:36 am »
I've done a Google map for the river, if anyone spots a mistake let know.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1v5ZejdLkfrOp9hRGdmF0kFUrkbLLFtc&usp=sharing
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Online pomme homme

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2024, 09:58:44 am »
Thank you, ChrisL. The map is very interesting. Does the purple line represent the course of the Cuckmere today or at some prior point in history?

I was particularly interested in the course of the Cuckmere where Arlington Reservoir now is. Is the meanderless channel, labelled Cuckmere River, the course of the Cuckmere today and a deviation from its original route? And is the purple line, within the reservoir, the course of the Cuckmere before the reservoir was constructed and, presumably, the river was diverted? 

Offline ChrisL

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2024, 10:28:07 am »
Mostly I followed the current course, but at the reservoir I used the NLS old OS maps as you can draw on the map and then export it as a GIS file, Then used Google earth to put it all together.
It pretty much follows the same course except at the reservoir, & at least we have the 3 locks now mapped.

I find it odd though that although there was a lock, now lost in the reservoir I couldn't find any wharf marked anywhere upstream of it.

This show the lost lock.

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Online pomme homme

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2024, 10:49:26 am »
I think that one has to be careful not to conclude too readily, from indications of the existence of a flash lock/staunch/sluice, that the river, at that point, was navigable and was navigated. It is possible that such were used wholly or principally to maintain water levels upstream. This might explain the absence of any wharves upstream of the flash lock/staunch/sluice whose location is now under the waters of Arlington Reservoir.

Offline ChrisL

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2024, 15:04:58 pm »
Certainly there would have been in medieval times at the priory, but flash locks or sluices like that I would say are much later.
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Offline PNK

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2024, 22:33:55 pm »
Something that always intrigues me is how the landscape, and in this case rivers, looked in medieval, Roman and pre-roman times. Have they changed much due to the interference from human activity?

Offline ChrisL

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Re: Cuckmere River
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2024, 11:56:00 am »
I had a look at the Lidar data in front of the dam, & the dam building & river straightening has wiped out all trace of the old meanders.
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