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The OED doesn't document the spelling lete, which is a different archaic word meaning "leach". Ortolan88 (it was used in a legal document in Cornwall in 1588 to refer to an artifical water course) 20:15, 25 May 2007 (UTC)mikeL


'Not just to a watermill' but to any industrial process, hammer mill, forge or furnace bellows, mineral washery/classification process , dye works, irrigation system and, no doubt, many others which need lots of water. The word, although not common in recent times, has been used more widely than the article suggests. I think I have also seen it spelt 'leet' 22:07, 11 March 2007 (UTC)mikeL

Good point! I have added this to the article. Peterkingiron 23:23, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

An open channel inside an industrial plant is usually called a launder although neither Chambers or Wikipedia seem to know that 22:24, 25 May 2007 (UTC)mikeL

Yes, so is an elevated wooden channel taking water from a leat to a watermill. I think I leat has to be on the ground. There are a lot of technical words that could usefully be explained as part of the article, including penstock. Peterkingiron 21:39, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Not just industrial? Can anyone state a use of aquaduct which could not be accuratly described as a leat, I've added drinking water as a use as this is there major current use where I live (West Dartmoor), the word is in common use for these channels and Ordinance Survey describes channels which only appear to serve only livestock farms and houses as leats. I suspect that any open manmade watercourse could be accuratly described as a leat and if so this should be added- or if not then exclusions should be detailed. Pete the pitiless (talk) 17:27, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

The Elan aqueduct (not aquaduct) is a pipeline conducting Welsh water to Birmingham. I assume "leat" should refer to an open air watercourse, but piped systems can have siphons, so that they do not have to follow the contours. An aqueduct can also be a bridge carring a canal over a road; this is certainly not a leat. Peterkingiron (talk) 18:08, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
As a matter of common usage in Wales, leats discharge their water to the same watercourse that they started from. Channels which take water from one catchment to another are rarely (if ever ?) called leats but are called catch-water channels, aqueducts or feeder channels. I doubt whether this distinction is invariable and I can't find a confirmatory source but it might give a little more clarity to the original use of the word leat.  Velela  Velela Talk   20:18, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your quick responces I've found a couple of sources that describe a leat as channel specifically serving a watermill (including Chambers 20 Century Dictionary,1962), but also several that desribe it as an "artificial water trench" esp one feeding a mill. So I guess I'll make the change to a more general desription. I wont bother sourcing since this hardly seems controversial.Pete the pitiless (talk) 20:21, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I certainly regard the channel to a watermill as the usuaql use, but some one (above) suggested that other artificial watercourses could also be leats. Peterkingiron (talk) 17:39, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Gazeteer of Leats[edit]

Does anyone have or know of a gazeteer of leats in the West country? Worth's Dartmoor refers to a number of leats and blowing houses etc, which might form the basis of such a compilation. Peterlewis (talk) 20:11, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

Hemery's "Walking Dartmoor Waterways" might add something? Cheers --Herby talk thyme 09:48, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Please be wary of creating a general list of leats. Most were connected with mills, and the present list of mills is already enormous. However a List of mining-related leats might be interesting. Those for blowing houses would be better dealt with in articles on the blowing houses. Peterkingiron (talk) 21:58, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
The problem with this is that there really are a lot of (disused) leats. As almost every very small mine would have had some form of controlled water supply you can find places where there are three or four leat traces in quite a small area. The presence of a blowing house and a leat would be good to deal with. However for those Worth or Helen Harris & a look at Tom Greeves and Hemery should cover the majority? It would be good to see the Industrial archaeology of Dartmoor worked on from that viewpoint (Commons has a growing collection of collection of related material) --Herby talk thyme 06:52, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree – leats of some kind are pretty well ubiquitous in Britain. We farm four sets of typical riverside fields in Hampshire – every field has a major watermeadow leat ("main carrier") and several minor ones. Much the same happens in every field along the full lengths of all the southern English rivers, with extra leats for every mill (though many leats are now largely obscured by later changes). Then there are leats associated with canals, reservoirs, and as noted above, mines.
Having said all that, I'm not sure Peterlewis was actually suggesting a list on Wikipedia, but was perhaps only asking for a source of information. If that was it, I think a better approach might just be to look for them – once you know what to look for you'll find them very easily. Start upstream of any watermill. --Richard New Forest (talk) 07:49, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Article expansion needed[edit]

A good deal of work is needed to expand this article. This follows on from the last diuscussion. I would suggest that a paragraph (at least) is needed on each of the following:

  • irrigation - generally; water meadows
  • mills - have industrial archaeologists developed a system of classification of such leats?
  • water supply to towns monsastries etc
  • water supply for mining - to operate waterwheels for pumping; for hushing; for other alluvial mining; for ore preparation

Please feel free to add to this list. I would recommend that detailed discussion of the purpose for which the water was used should NOT appear here, but there should be a link to a main article on it using a "main" template. We have material on a few of these topics already by there is a lot missing. Peterkingiron (talk) 09:32, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Upper Harz Ditches[edit]

Would "leat" be a more accurate name for these ditches in the Upper Harz mining area? One dictionary also translates the original word "Graben" as "loading ditch" in a mining context. --Bermicourt (talk) 19:49, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Mill Race[edit]

A mill race is a leet associated with the water wheel of a mill. Stuffed cat (talk) 23:56, 4 February 2012 (UTC)


Why on earth is Dartmoor dealt with in such depth? Leats are not peculiar to Dartmoor, and in any case, this article is available in English-speaking countries all over the world - it makes no sense to focus on one small area. Obscurasky (talk) 16:36, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

This is a wiki - feel free to improve it. Leats are very common on Dartmoor - they are not necessarily unique to Dartmoor. I'd be interested in seeing other countries that had references to them? --Herby talk thyme 11:41, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
The primary meaning of "leat" seems to be related to mining (as opposed to irrigation), but the word was somewhat localised. The term "leat", not a synonym, is used in archaeology outside the SW - for example. This suggests what purpose the article should have. English Heritage lists 3,000+ examples of leats from all over England. Devon has nearly 1,000 of those - there are probably more listed on Dartmoor than in any other county.
The problem is that on Dartmoor, many leats are clearly visible today. By contrast, in lowland Devon, there were also many leats, but probably not as densely packed and are lost to later development. The article reflects this observational bia, when it shouldn't.
Reformulating the Dartmoor section to be broader seems way forward: Instead of focusing on the moors, make it a broader discussion of the location of leats, and then how many are visible on Dartmoor - including the two specific leats mentioned - as an example of the broader phenomenon.
Finding non-UK uses isn't easy, because Google returns "least" for "leat"...--Nilfanion (talk) 23:00, 14 January 2013 (UTC)