Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hedsor Wharf 200 years ago.

Hedsor Wharf 1812.
This painting of Hedsor Wharf by William Havel will be 200 years old this year. It clearly portrays the Thames as being very slow moving and with no great depth; due to the fact at that time there was no real regulation of its flow by either weir or locks. There were a few eel basket weirs, but they did not stem the river flow by any means.

Cookham around this time was becoming a very popular small market town and a point at which it was easy to ford across. Hedsor to the bargee’s, was one point in the river that was difficult to navigate around, especially during low water, and quite often got grounded on the ever-present sand or gravel bars.

Then came the building of the A4 Bridge over the Thames, which was the death knell to the sailing barge traffic and the bargee’s had to rely on local horse towing power to pull them up stream. With the building of locks and weirs to control the river level and the building of the Great Western Railway by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, trade and transportation changed dramatically.

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