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• Introduction

• History
• The Godalming

• The Wey

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• Introduction

• Lock
• Barges
• Life on the

• The Horse-
drawn IONA

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• Introduction

• Watermills
• Flour & Bread
• Fulling & Cloth
• Chilworth

• Charcoal

• Brewing
• Papermaking
• Ice Houses
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• Introduction

• Habitats
• Trees & Plants
• Insects
• Birds
• Fish
• Countryside

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• Introduction

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

• More About

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• Introduction

• Legends
• The Big Names
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• Introduction

• Boat Art
• Inn Art
• River Graffiti
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• Basingstoke

• Wey & Arun

• The Thames
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We welcome
your comments

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Wey Navigation
Triggs to Papercourt Lock

The stretch of river up to Papercourt Lock near Ripley runs across an open and often windswept area of water meadows. The low lying land was prone to regular and severe flooding which was combated by various flood prevention measures which are evidenced here.



Mary Tofts lived in Godalming in Surrey. She probably would have led an uneventful life if it hadn't have been for the national scandal she bestowed upon an upstanding Guildford surgeon and one of the royal physicians in 1727. She managed to convince both doctors that she had given birth to 18 rabbits, a claim that gave rise to the political cartoonists of the time lampooning her as 'The Rabbit Woman' and casting severe aspersions on the capabilities of the two physicians involved. A spurious claim for a royal pension resulted in a term in prison for the disillusioned Mary Tofts.

The Wey Navigation was excavated 350 years ago by navvies working only with shovels, wheelbarrows and sheer determination. Of the 15.5 miles of navigable waterway, over 9 miles had to be artificially cut by hand across meadows and fields, a remarkable achievement.


click image to enlarge

"Wherever prisoners are held, whatever the conditions, whether they are guilty or innocent, Lord, we pray that your healing love may touch prisoners today." Mothers' Union Prayer Diary, Prisons Week 2006, Diocese of Guildford.

"It was rather wet last night and I have discovered some leaks on the boat. First of all the side hatch seems to have a gap large enough for water to poor into the boat from the gunwhale - I am not sure how I will fix this problem, but the whole frame could do with a bit of TLC so with anyluck I will be able to build a new one which is a better fit. Water is also leaking in from the roof vents. I will solve this by replacing them with the much better design of mushroom vents." Riverboat blogger 'Narrowboat Jones' May 2006

"A first for this trip was the chance to share a lock with another Narrowboat. Two were already coming up through Papercourt lock, and we would share the lock with NB Wingingit going down. A nice young couple and their young daughter out for a few days using their parent’s boat.

"As with all the pretty lock cottages on this navigation, the National Trust has plaques on the buildings explaining what part they played in the navigations history, which I think is a fabulous idea, and something BW should take onboard. It is so important to keep this countries history to the fore and this is a good way of doing it.
After leaving the lock we then pasted Newark Priory, or should I say the remains of the priory. Before entering Newark Lock." Blogger: Hadar 2nd June 2008

to the next stretch of the Wey Navigation:

Defences in an Area Prone to Flooding

The activity of the 1930s Improvement Scheme is evident along the stretch of waterway just downstream from Triggs Lock (GR:TQ013549) where three meanders (GR: TQ014551 – 016554) of the original river have been sliced through to straighten what otherwise is the original course of the Wey.

Worsfold Gates (GR:TQ016557) are part of the Wey’s flood defences. The gates are fitted with wooden sluice rods of the traditional style that are levered up by a crowbar and held up by pushing pins through. This is one of only two remaining examples of the original design of lock making developed by the builder of the Wey Navigation, Sir Richard Weston in the mid 17th century.

Garth Allan's watercolour of Worsfold Gates Click to visit Garth Allan's Website
click on image to go to artist's website

The chamber between the gates is turf sided as all the original locks were, and square in shape. The gates are normally left open allowing unhindered passage for craft as the canal is level here, and are only closed to control excessive changes in water level especially as are experienced during floods. The closed gates force the excess water into the old course of the river as it breaks away from the Navigation here and heads north towards Old Woking. The flood water is allowed to overflow into the meadows to relieve the potential of flooding elsewhere. The flood water is allowed to return to the water course through sluices when the danger is deemed to have passed. The Navigation rejoins the river just downstream of Papercourt Lock. Worsfold Gates is 8.9 miles (14.3 km) from the Thames.

Lock at send on Wey Navigation 1909
Lock 1909
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

The lock-keepers cottage on the towpath side at Worsfold Gates is the remaining survivor of a style that was once common along the Navigation. The black weather-boarding gives it an austere look, although it is complemented by the rustic looking timber and tile building built around the same time, and which today is still put to practical use providing a base for the National Trust maintenance teams working along the Navigation, as it has for hundreds of years. This extensively restored timber building nearby is one of the oldest remaining along the Navigation and possibly served as a shelter for the navvies involved in digging the cuts in the 1650s. The brick building with corrugated roof is a workshop built by the National Trust in 1977 within which to make new lock gates. The Trust today contracts out much of its repair and construction including lock gates.

There was once a boathouse near the gates built by the master carpenter that had lived at Worsford. He hired out pleasure craft including skiffs, punts and canoes from here in 1900, a business continued by his son until 1956. The ‘Boathouse’ here today is not the original building. Before the 1930s Improvement Scheme the towpath was on the other side of the river between Worsford Gates and Triggs, and the Portmore horse bridge used by the carters here was dismantled at the same time.

“Just above High Bridge the bank went and they shoved an old narrow boat in there and they kept putting sand and chalk on top of that. I suppose that old boat’s still in there.” 'Captain White's River Life' Nancy Larcomber

Send at Cartbridge 1909 on Wey Navigation
Send at Cartbridge 1909
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Oldest Wharf

High Bridge (GR: TQ017559) is an unusual and awkward footbridge that marks the point upstream of here on the non-towpath side where there was one of the Wey Navigations oldest wharves. Send Heath Wharf has records dating back to 1724 recording cargoes and the fact that it had a full-time wharfinger who was paid £7 in that year. The wharf was later relocated to its current position 300 yards (275 m) on the opposite of the river to become known as Cartbridge Wharf . The wharf retained its importance for 200 years as it was perfectly placed to serve Woking with a good road link, and nearby Send.



Nature Reserve

Between Cart Bridge (GR: TQ017561) and Papercourt Lock along the west bank of the Navigation lies a man-made cut running adjacent and a stone throw away from the waterway and parallel to the broadly meandering original course of the Wey. Named Broadmead Cut after the Broad Mead common fields through which it runs and which were part of Old Woking’s ‘open-field’ network. Part of a flood control system the cut, dug in the 1930s Improvement Scheme, provided water management for both the Navigation and the ancient meadows, the meadows being traditionally released for public grazing after Lammas in August when the hay harvest was completed.

Part of this natural flood plain has been acquired by Surrey Wildlife Trust, providing a 20 hectare (47-acre) Nature Reserve that is part of the Papercourt Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The site was notified for its unimproved grassland and marshland, plus open water. In addition to locally rare communities and vascular plants the site is important for breeding and wintering birds. The Trust intends to create a new nature reserve to protect this increasingly threatened wildlife habitat, ensure wider public access and introduce a programme of community education. There are three individual SSSI sites notified in the vicinity here at the following grid references: TQ035569; TQ042565; TQ035563.

As Broadmead Cut reaches Tanyard Bridge (GR: TQ029564) the towpath passes in the shadow of a long industrial building. There was once a mill and a tannery here with both the name of the bridge and Tannery Lane lending credence to that fact. The bridge carries a bridleway across the Navigation.


Papercourt Lock

The original Papercourt Lock (GR: TQ034568) - rise of 8ft 0in (2.44m) - as was opened in 1653 in reality no longer exists as the National Trust moved it to make better sense of water management here. The Lock is 7.3 miles (11.7 km) from the Thames.

The lock was originally closer to the lock-keeper’s cottage but required considerable management as there was no self-regulating water control installed here. The tumbling bay was built where the lock was to provide this control. The cottage had also been moved prior to this when it was rebuilt in 1922 on higher ground, and this reconstruction has provided a river yarn too. The lock-keeper at the time was made to make temporary accommodation for him and his family in a barge just below the bridge for a few months. The site had been pegged out by the builders and in the middle of the night, as the story goes, he tiptoed around the site moving the pegs about to make sure that when the cottage was built he would have a good view along the river in both directions to spot approaching vessels without having to leave his cottage.

Henry Wye 1890

Pictured above is Henry Wye (1826 - 1901) standing by the lockkeeper's cottage at Papercourt Lock around 1890. Wye had had various previous occupations documented including agricultural labourer (1851 census) and working in a beer shop (1861 census). By the 1871 census he had secured a job labouring on the navigation which provided him with the opportunity to eventually secure the coveted position of becoming lockkeeper, taking over from one John Stone. Wye continued to manage the lock until his death in 1901 when his son Alfred (b. 1868) became the lockkeeper. Another son Jack (b. 1873) was to take over as lockkeeper at St. Catherine's Lock.

Family accounts of life at the lock illustrate well the sociable nature of living by the river with many an evening whiled away by candlelight playing shove ha'penny (1) with family and friends. River weddings were celebrated in style with the marriage of Elizabeth Wye in 1896 culminating in the newlyweds being escorted to the marital home by a long procession of barges which had been lit up by lanterns. The family also experienced first hand the horrors of WWII with an account of a solitary German aircraft strafing family members whilst they were picking mushrooms in a nearby field.

(1) Shove ha'penny is a traditional game that probably originated from 'shoffe-grote' in the 15th century. The game is played by pushing coins (halfpennies or ha'pennies) up a wooden board over which horizontal lines mark out beds into which the coins have to stop without resting on the lines. The winner is the first player to land three coins successfully into each bed.

Acknowlegement: Many thanks to Lesley Watson for permission to publish the photograph of Henry Wye and for the family account of life at Papercourt. Lesley is the great granddaughter of Elizabeth Wye.

The Papercourt Farm (GR: TQ035566) buildings were largely constructed in the 1690s as part of the Manor of Papworth, which was the earlier manor name until it changed to Papercourt around the same time.


Send was already well established by the time it was recorded as 'Sendan' by the Anglo-Saxons in 960 and was also registered in the Domesday Survey.

The Domesday Book recorded Send as being the Land of Alfred of Marlborough within Woking Hundred. It consisted of 20 hides, land for 10 ploughs with 'his lordship' having 2 ploughs and 8 slaves. In 1086 there was a mill, a church and fisheries.

Although there have been earlier finds including Neolithic tools, a prehistoric wooden paddle, and Roman coins no archaelogical evidence suggesting any permanent settlement here has yet been discovered.

John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles in 1887 recorded Send as having a population of 809. William Cobbett on November 12th 1825 must have passed through Send a little too quickly for in his journal his only passing reference was this quirky entry: "At Send or Sutton, where Mr. Webb Weston inhabited, there is a baron somebody, with a De before his name."

Send and nearby Ripley were usually regarded as a single administrative unit. In 1801 Send and Ripley Ancient Parish (AP) had a population of 1,024 and by 1931 it had more than trebled to 3,728.

wey Navigation at Send 1909
Wey Navigation at Send 1909
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

HM Prison Send

The current prison facility at Send operates as a specialised closed Female Training Prison after being completely rebuilt in 1999. The site (GR: TQ055537) originally housed a Smallpox Isolation Hospital but was adapted as a Junior Detention Centre in 1962.

The prison has (October 2006) an operational capacity of 218 inmates and also houses a 20 bed Drug Treatment Unit, an 80 bed Resettlement Unit and a Therapeutic Community of 40. The profile of the prison's population can vary according to external demands and in 2003 had a large number (47%) of prisoners serving 4 - 10 year sentences. During 2004 this profile shifted to accommodate more short-term prisoners over 21 years of age including second stage life sentences, and prisoners taken straight from sentencing shifting the emphasis away from a resettlement unit. (PRISON 2008 EXPANSION - SEE BELOW)

The prison's regime features an Education Department running Key Skills courses and NVQs (1) in Business Administration. Other training opportunities include a Farms and Gardens work party providing access to NVQs in Florestry and an industrial workshop.

The prison is often integrated into the local community by projects to provide both local residents with an insight into life at the prison and to provide the prisoners with an outlet for their creativity. Writing on Walls (WOW) is a collaboration between associates from Stop Gap Theatre and Arts (2), women prisoners at Send and women in the Guildford area. The pilot project launched with Guildford Women's Festival (March 2006) aimed to enable inmates to communicate with women outside through their contributions of poems, letters, slogans, paintings, graffiti and collages. An art installation representing a wall had local women add their responses with the completed wall exhibited in the Friary Centre in Guildford.

"The Writing on the Walls project is an opportunity for women in Send prison to have a voice." said Brian Ritchie, prison governor. "Our community to think about some of the problems of separation from children and the effort our women are making to turn their lives around and go out and take their place once more in our community, contributing to society."

Croydon's Whitgift School's A Level Design Technology students made artefacts (May 2006) for use within the prison's visitors' centre as part of their course linked to community needs.

The Angican prison chaplain at Send for over a decade is Rev'd Andrew Foran and the following are excerpts of an interview to mark Prisons Week (November 2006) published in the Church of England (Guildford Diocese) magazine Wey.

"I meet people who are arriving and leaving and respond to requests from prisoners who want to see me. That could be for a whole host of reasons. Just recently there was a woman whose husband was murdered in Jamaica and she wanted to see me to help try to work through it.

"It is definitely different to life as a parish priest and you can feel isolated. As a coordinating chaplain part of my role is to make sure we all communicate and share. I do not live in the prison but nearby and help out at a couple of churches as my time permits.

"(prison chaplaincy) is important because it keeps alive some of our basic human values. When people are taken into an institution it is easy for them to feel they are losing that God-given sense of spirit. A chaplain is there to make sure human values are not forgotten.

"It (the Sycamore Tree course) has been incredibly encouraging. It helps women find a creative way to make amends, it's about repairing, not punishing and encourages women to think about their victims. It was introduced five or six years ago and has made a tremendous impact. It has been recognised as an important part of prison life and always has a waiting list."

(1) NVQ is the National Vocational Qualification and is work-related showing that the candidate is competent in the area of work the NVQ represents. (2) Stop Gap Theatre and Arts is an informal association of theatre professionals and visual artists based in Surrey

HM Prison Service (2006); citiZED Case Studies (2005); Sticks & Stones (Issue 8 2006); The Wey (Church of England - Guildford Diocese) Issue 6 November 2006

A scheme launched by the local council to award environmental health ratings to public buildings has resulted (January 2008) in Send Prison receiving the top award. The scheme, first launched in Guildford, assesses premises that provide food including restaurants, schools and other institutions. The prison received a five star rating.

The governor of the prison authorised for inmates to move into a new wing that was completed in February 2008. The new capacity of 64 single bedrooms complete with en-suite bathrooms has increased the capacity of the prison by 30% from 218 to 282. The new unit, which includes its own dining room and education wing, is earmarked for prisoners who are nearing the end of their stay. These prisoners eventually move to a resettlement wing where they start working in the community and preparing for life outside. Twenty additional members of staff have been recruited to manage the additional capacity. The prison has 10 new prisoners referred to it weekly.

Inmates at Send Prison were involved in the launch (May 2008) of a unique scheme, the first to be run from a women's prison in the UK. The Crime Diversion Scheme enables women prisoners who are nearing the end of their sentence to work in the community helping young women aged between 13 and 17, and already involved with the criminal justice system, to avoid crime. The inmates talk about their own experiences and give a frank account of the harsh realities encountered behind bars.



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