River Tillingbourne

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River Tillingbourne running through the Albury estate
Country England
County Surrey
Districts Mole Valley District, Guildford Borough
 - left Law Brook
 - right Sherbourne Brook
Source Tilling Springs
 - location Leith Hill, Surrey
Length 22 km (14 mi)
Discharge for Shalford [1]
 - average 0.54 m3/s (19 cu ft/s)
 - max 6.1 m3/s (215 cu ft/s) (15 September 1968)
 - min 0.23 m3/s (8 cu ft/s) (4 August 1992)

The River Tillingbourne (also known as the Tilling Bourne)[2] runs along the south side of the North Downs and joins the River Wey at Guildford. Its source is near Tilling Springs to the north of Leith Hill at grid reference TQ143437 and it runs through Friday Street, Abinger Hammer, Gomshall, Shere, Albury, Chilworth and Shalford. The source is a semi-natural uninhabited area. The catchment is situated on sandstone which has a low rate of weathering.[3] The Tillingbourne is 18 km (11 mi) in length.

The Tillingbourne initially flows northward for 4 km (2.5 mi) down the northern slopes of Leith Hill over a series of weirs and cascades, before turning west to run for 14 km (8.7 mi) through Abinger Hammer and Chilworth towards the River Wey at Shalford.[4] The river is classified as a subsequent stream, since its course is determined by the direction of the stratum of softer rock for the majority of its length.

The river has four principal tributaries: the Friday Street stream joins at Wootton House; the Holmbury St Mary stream joins at Abinger Hammer; the Sherbourne Brook drains the Silent Pool and Sherbourne Pond and the Law Brook joins near Postford.[4]

The river used to power a number of gunpowder, paper and flour mills in the area.[5] The gunpowder mills were at Chilworth. Present day users include a trout farm, watercress beds,a business growing reeds and is often studied by students from nearby field studies centres, such as Sayers Croft and Juniper Hall.[6]

The river passes through the Albury estate at: Albury Park, Weston fishery, Vale End fishery and Powder Mills fishery. The rivers course has been diverted slightly here for the purpose of the estate.

The River Tillingbourne supports a healthy fish population of both wild brown trout and coarse fish. The Environment Agency has been working with local fishermen to improve the habitat for these fish by recreating a pool and riffle habitat and by cutting back overhanging vegetation.[7]

Evening on the Tillingbourne (1889) by Lewis Pinhorn Wood

The river was championed by the Victorian landscapist Lewis Pinhorn Wood, who lived in Shere from 1884 to 1897, and painted extensively along its banks with scenes including The Silent Pool, Twilight (1888) and Evening on the Tillingbourne (1889).

List of Mills[edit]

  • Wotton Mill
  • Crane's Mill, Abinger
  • Paddington Mill
  • Gomshall Mill, now a pub
  • Netley Mill, also known as Shere Mill
  • Albury Mill
  • Postford Mill, renamed Albury Mill in the 20th Century.
  • Chilworth Mills
  • Shalford Mill, now owned by the National Trust

Other Notable Features[edit]


  1. ^ Marsh, T; Hannaford, J, eds. (2008). UK Hydrometric Register (PDF). Hydrological data UK series. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. ISBN 978-0-9557672-2-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Explorer map name
  3. ^ Tillingbourne Acidification Study
  4. ^ a b Crocker, Glenys; Crocker, Alan (2000). Damnable Inventions: Chilworth Gunpowder and the Paper Mills of the Tillingbourne. Guildford: Surrey Industrial History Group. pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-9538122-0-0. 
  5. ^ Hillier, J (1951). Old Surrey Water Mills. London W1: Skeffington & Son. pp. 129–147. 
  6. ^ Juniper Hall
  7. ^ Environment Agency

Coordinates: 51°13′02″N 0°32′59″W / 51.2171°N 0.54984°W / 51.2171; -0.54984