The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Road along the river bed

Our resident Historian, GH, recently came across the following press-cutting in the Bury Free Press for 1870


January 29th 1870.
Wickhambrook Highway Board.
The chairman has received a letter from the clerk of the Hedingham Highway Board calling attention to a piece of road leading from Pentlow to Cavendish.
It appears the bed of the river forms part of the road and is often impassable.
The Board considered the question and agreed to appoint three gentlemen from the Board to form a committee to co-operate with three gentlemen from the Hedingham Board to inspect the piece of road and to report to each Board their decision. The following gentlemen were appointed as a committee from this Board, Mr Everard of Stansfield, Mr Dennis from Clare and Mr Byford from Glemsford


A few weeks later a second report appeared in the paper

March 26th 1870. Wickhambrook Highway Board.
The committee appointed to report on the highway lying between Pentlow and Cavendish and resolve the following “The state of the highway passing along the river is dangerous. We consider it to be expedient that a bridge be built over the original site of the river dividing the two counties of Suffolk and Essex and at joint expense of the two Boards. In order to carry out the plan the present river must be diverted and a piece of ground on one side will be required of Spurling and the other of Offord.

October 1st 1870. Wickhambrook Highway Board.
The clerk read the minutes of the last meeting and discussion took place relative to the bridge over the river running between Pentlow and Cavendish, it appears Hedingham Highway Board are in favour of having the work done under the surveyance of their own surveyor, Mr Byford said they should appoint a man at the joint expense of the two Boards.
After discussion the proposition agreed to “that this Board is of the opinion that it is not advisable to have the bridge built by two persons therefore this Board adheres to the original proposition that it should be carried out by one competent person”.


December 17th 1870. Wickhambrook Highway Board.
Erection of bridge over the Stour between Pentlow and Cavendish. The following proposition was unanimously agreed “that this Board is willing to abide by the decision of the joint committee of the two Boards but before the work can be satisfactorily executed by two persons acting in different interests declines to any further steps in the matter unless Hedingham Board will agree to the appointment of one independent professional man to act between them and be jointly paid by the two Boards.


Of course, nothing happened and the route was eventually lost.

It is curious that roads should once have run along the bed of rivers. It happens quite often with streams, which are eventually run into ditches alongside the road or in culverts underneath. Water Lane in Cavendish is a good example. I can think of no other example where a road runs along the bed of the river Stour.

I know people who have dismissed the idea as a fantasy. However, when boating along the Stour below Paddock Mill it is still possible to see the hardstanding below the surface when the river is low, and one can make out the ditch that they cut on the northern side to take the flow.

The road ran from Paddock Mill (now called Cavendish Mill) from the present mill lane and into the tailrace (there was a loop there so that the carts could turn) and thence along the river bed, emerging to join the bridleway that led through Hullets Wood to Pentlow Church and Pentlow Hall. Paddock Mill (Cavendish Mill) never had a proper road bridge and this was the only way of getting farm carts to the mill from the Essex side. On first reading the press cutting, GH wondered if the Wickhambrook Highway Board were concerned with Pentlow Lane, but the crossing at Cavendish is shown on all maps as a good bridge, and the road never ran on the river bed.

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