Updated 20 Aug 2014

Weir Lane, Cowgrove

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Weir Lane, Cowgrove

Old Weir, Mill Stream and Old Ford

    Weir Lane connects Cowgrove to the Dorset Stour opposite a Mill Stream entrance. Here a weir (now vanished) served the dual purposes of:
  • Steering water into the Mill Stream when the Stour was low.
  • Limiting the height in the Mill Stream when the Stour was high.
    The Mill stream drove the now vanished Lake Mill, about 1,200 yards downstream, also called "Gillingham's Mill". Ref 3 suggests the Stour re-routed between 1675-1765. Lake Mill existed in 1606 (ref Kingston Lacy records). The Mill Stream was clearly still flowing in 1888 (see maps), was filled-in by 1901, and re-opened in 2007 by the landowner. The Old Weir presumably vanished when the Old Mill fell into disuse and the Mill Stream was filled in (1888-1901). Weir Lane may also have connected with a now vanished Old Ford, which once crossed a (then) minor arm of the Stour. Today the Lane is part of a popular circular walk from Eye Bridge, surfaced along the river bank but somewhat muddy onwards to Cowgrove (see photo). Fields 1601 and 1603 became a Plantation of Poplars around 1960. The small island below the weir has also vanished, while the large island has welded to the South bank becoming Field 1599, today with many large mature willows.
Weir Lane 5 Aug 2009 © Pierre Terre
1888. Ordnance Survey map
1811. early Ordnance Survey
1840. Corfe Mullen Tithe map.
1847. Wimborne Tithe map.
1901. OS map 25 inch.
1928. OS map 25 inch.

REF. 3

From: "The Old Roads of Dorset" by Ronald Good, Page 42:
"....On the West side of Wimborne the story is interesting but complicated. Historically it begins with the Roman Road from Badbury to Hamworthy which ran South-East from near Cowgrove to a point a little West of Lake Farm, where a minor loop of the river comes close to the present main road [A31]. Next, Ogilby [1675], in his description of the road from Wimborne to Poole (see p 56) mentions and depicts a road running Westward from near Canford to "Lakeford". Again, South of Cowgrove, and approached by Weir Lane, there is an old ford just West of, that is to say, above, the spot at which the river loop just referred to leaves the present main stream. Finally, South of Pamphill there is a broad, hedged, approach to the river where a ford is marked on 6" OS and where, until the Second World War there was a substantial iron foot-bridge, Eye Bridge, though there does not seem to be any sign of a road running to it from the South side. The clue to the explanation of all this is that although Lake is now half a mile or so from the river both the Roman road and Ogilby suggest strongly that there was a ford at Lake and if so this can only have been on what is now the subsidiary loop of the river. It therefore looks very much as if between the time of Ogilby, 1675, and Taylor's map, 1765 (see p 53), which shows the river as it is now, the Stour changed its course here, being either naturally or deliberately diverted along its present more direct line from just East of Cowgrove ford to a point South of Stone Park leaving the former, much longer, bed of the river to become gradually reduced by silting and filling. If this is indeed so then with the loss of Lake ford another crossing became necessary across the new river south of Pamphill, and this is provided at Eye Bridge. Two more points should be noticed. The Roman Road is shown on maps as changing its course hereabouts, but this is not wholly convincing, and if the Southern leg of the road is produced a little further north beyond its apparant termination it comes very close to the presumed site of Lake ford. Second, our idea that the river has changed is strongly supported, and some may think even proved, by the fact that the old river loop was until 1933, and is still partly, a local government and parish boundary like the main bed West and East of it....."

Remains of Old Weir

Stuart Evans volunteered to dive below the Stour to see if there were any remnants of the Old Weir on the bottom where the Old Mill Stream meets the river at Bear Mead.
Along the line of the "Old Weir" in the 1888 OS map, he found a scatter of large stones, some of which he brought ashore for examination. Larger stones were too large to move. None were native to the bottom in size and composition. A worked wooden post was also found.Thanks Stuart

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