River Wey

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Coordinates: 51°10′48″N 0°45′00″W / 51.180°N 0.750°W / 51.180; -0.750


River Wey
 
Elstead Bridge DSC 1620.jpg
Elstead Bridge, originally built by the monks of Waverley Abbey
Country England
Counties West Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey
Districts / Boroughs Chichester (district), East Hampshire (district), Waverley, Guildford, Woking, Elmbridge, Runnymede
Tributaries
 - left Oakhanger Stream, Kingsley Stream, Oxney Stream
Towns Farnham, Haslemere, Godalming, Guildford, Weybridge, Alton, Hampshire
Landmark Surrey Hills AONB
Source
 - location Farringdon, Alton, East Hampshire, Hampshire
Secondary source
 - location Black Down, West Sussex, Chichester, West Sussex
Source confluence
 - location Tilford, Waverley, Surrey
Mouth River Thames
 - location Weybridge, Elmbridge, Surrey
Length 140 km (87 mi)
Basin 904 km2 (349 sq mi)
Discharge for Weybridge
 - average 6.76 m3/s (239 cu ft/s)
 - max 74.8 m3/s (2,642 cu ft/s) 29 December 1979
 - min 1.30 m3/s (46 cu ft/s) 12 August 1990
Discharge elsewhere (average)
 - Farnham 0.73 m3/s (26 cu ft/s)
 - Tilford 3.25 m3/s (115 cu ft/s)
 - Guildford 5.17 m3/s (183 cu ft/s)
Map of the River Wey
Wikimedia Commons: River Wey, Surrey

The River Wey is a tributary of the River Thames in south east England and one of two major tributaries in Surrey. It begins as two separate branches which join at Tilford in Surrey. Once combined the flow is eastwards then northwards via Godalming and Guildford to meet the Thames while in Surrey. The main sub-tributary is the Tilling Bourne flowing from the western slopes of Leith Hill in Surrey westwards to a point just south of Guildford between the main village of Shalford and its Peasmarsh locality. Downstream the river forms the backdrop to Newark Priory and Brooklands.

The name may be derived from the Old English word Éa meaning "river". The source of the north branch is at Alton, Hampshire and of the south branch at both Black Down historically Blackdown south of Haslemere and beside Gibbet Hill and the Devil's Punch Bowl, next to Hindhead village centre. The Wey has a total catchment area of 904 square kilometres (350 sq mi), draining parts of Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex.[1] It is partly navigable from Godalming, forming natural sections of the Wey and Godalming Navigations which has been dug alongside since the 17th century to assist trade in its lower stretch. It joins the River Thames between Hamm Court and Whittets Ait facing a weirstream of Shepperton Lock. The river is also a popular subject to study, as its features allow for easy access to data.

Course[edit]

Wey North[edit]

The Wey North branch rises in Alton in Hampshire and runs eastwards through Upper Froyle and Bentley, turning southeast at Farnham to Tilford.[2] This branch was originally the upper catchment of the Blackwater, which captured these waters and waters as far as Tilford by having a channel through the town of Farnham; this "early river Wey" captured waters from as far as Tilford; flow from which was downstream to Farnham, thus when this became blocked the flow spilt over into areas such as Elstead and for a short section past Waverley Abbey the flow has become reversed. The Blackwater remains as a much shorter river to the north of Farnham, with a wind gap (empty valley) between it and the Wey.

Wey South[edit]

The Wey South branch commences in two shorter rivers leading from separate sources. One is at Black Down near Haslemere and runs through Liphook, Bramshott, Bordon, Lindford and Frensham to Tilford. The other rises at Inval, below Gibbet Hill, Hindhead in the civil parish of Haslemere. This joins the Blackdown-source south branch west of Haslemere. Other smaller tributaries of the south branch are Cooper's Stream and the River Slea.[2]

Parishes and Towns passed[edit]

From Tilford the river runs by Elstead, Eashing, Godalming, Peasmarsh/Shalford, Guildford, Send, Old Woking, Pyrford, Byfleet, New Haw and forms the Addlestone/Weybridge border between Hamm Court and Whittets Ait respectively. From Godalming the river is intertwined with the Wey and Godalming Navigations which are manmade canals.[2]

Sub-tributaries[edit]

The River Ock joins at Godalming, Cranleigh Waters and the River Tillingbourne at Shalford and the Hoe Stream at Woking.

Extent of the Wey Towpath and linking paths[edit]

The 19.5 miles (31.4 km) towpath of the lower (navigable) section is open to walkers.

Other Connecting paths

History[edit]

On the Wey. Eashing mediaeval double bridge built by monks from Waverley Abbey
Bankfull River Wey near Pyrford where it is separate from the Wey Navigation Canal

During the seventeenth century the river was made navigable to Guildford and extended in the eighteenth century to Godalming. The Basingstoke Canal and Wey and Arun Junction Canal were later connected to the river. The navigable sections are now owned by the National Trust.

The river has long been used as a source of power for mills, and many are recorded in the Domesday Book. At one point there were 22 mills on the river, and more on its tributaries. At various times they have been used for grinding grain, fulling wool, rolling oats, crushing cattle cake, leather dressing, paper production and gunpowder manufacture. Willey Mill was still in use in 1953.[3]

Guildford Town Mill[edit]

There has been a mill on the site of Guildford Town Mill since at least 1649.[4] From 1770, an additional water wheel was being used to pump water to the town reservoir on Pewsey Down.[4] This was replaced by two water turbines in 1896, then a single turbine in 1930, in use until 1952 when itself replaced by electric pumps nearby. In 2003, Guildford Borough Council arranged for the refurbishment and installation of an identical turbine as an example of renewable energy. Rather than pumping water, this turbine drives a generator to supply up to 260,000 kWH of electricity into the National Grid, annually.[4] The turbine came on-line in 2006.[5] (The 1930 turbine has since been preserved, and may be viewed at Dapdune Wharf).[4]

Natural environment[edit]

Much of the upper reaches of the river are within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The river passes through a variety of habitats including heathland, woodland and watermeadow, resulting in a broad diversity of wildlife. There are numerous Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Nature Reserves along the river. There are many angling clubs along the river, and stocks of many species of fish including chub, barbel, roach, pike, bream, carp, perch and eel.

Other Terms for the River[edit]

Wey Valley

Wey Valley is a term for the narrowing basin of the River Wey before it empties into the River Thames.

The River Wey has two sources in different counties with the two headwaters many miles apart but which share the same name. The south branch rises south of Haslemere in West Sussex and flows west into Hampshire going through the town of Bordon before turning east and entering Surrey southwest of Frensham. The northern branch rises near Alton in Hampshire and flows north-east through Farnham. A confluence happens where two branches meet, namely at Tilford. The combined river has a less pronounced valley after Godalming, except for the narrow chalk divide of the North Downs to both sides of Guildford (Guildown and Pewsey Down) and to the north a greater than 5m rise towards the centres of adjoining Old Woking, Pyrford, Ripley and Saint George's Hill.[6]

Surrey rivers[edit]

Aside from the River Thames which does not belong to any one county, the river is one of the two main Surrey rivers, alongside the Mole.

Next in order of size are the River Bourne (Addlestone branch) and the River Bourne, Chertsey which similarly ends in the same channel as the other Bourne and rises in Berkshire. Until 1965 then would follow the River Wandle in London. Surrey is also drained by the Hogsmill River and has the sources and headwaters of the Blackwater and Eden.

Further reading[edit]

  • Inland Waterways Association (South-East Region) The River Wey and Godalming Navigation: Weybridge to Godalming Inland Waterways Association 1976

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About the Wey Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy". The Environment Agency website. Archived from the original on 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  2. ^ a b c The River Wey and Wey Navigations Community Site
  3. ^ "All About Watermills & Their Millers". The River Wey & Navigations website. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Hydro Tour Information Sheet" (PDF). Guildford (borough). Retrieved 2008-04-04. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Guildford Borough Council wins "green" award for commitment to renewable energy for the hydro project". Government Office for the South East. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  6. ^ Grid reference Finder measurement tools

External links[edit]

Next confluence upstream River Thames Next confluence downstream


Wey and Godalming Navigations (south) River Wey River Ash (north)