Updated 20 Aug 2014
Weir Lane, Cowgrove
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.
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 , 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....."
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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