Kew Bridge Barges
Staines City Stone Staines Staines Bridge Rushbed Hill Peas Ash Camshot Penton Hook PENTON ( OR PENTY) BRIDGE Laleham Gulls Chertsey Bridge Hill Doomsday Bushes Docket or Dog Ayte Stoner's Gut [Shepperton Lock] Folly Ayte [D'oyly Carte Island] Shepperton Halliford Walton Bridge Daylop Hill Barringer's Wear [above Sunbury Church] At Sunbury Church Sunbury Flats Platts Ayte Hampton Deeps Garricks Island Hampton Court Bridge Hampton Court Alders Thames Ditton Hampton Court Water Pipe Kingston Bridge Kemp's Pay Gate New Road Teddington Hill [Locks 1811] Swans' Nest Ayte Snow's Hill Horse Reach Sheen Gulls Kew Obelisk Kew Palace Kew Bridge
Staines City Stone gates Estimate
LONDON: PRINTED BY C. WHITTINGHAM, Dean Street, Fetter Lane,
FOR E. LAWRENCE, No. 378, STRAND;
Of whom may be had, all the Author's Works on Inland Navigation, Drainage, Irrigation, Agriculture, Commerce, and Public Economy.
[This copy] Presented to the Royal Institution of Great Britain
by the Author. 24th March, 1803.
TO THE WORSHIPFUL THE CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE FOR IMPROVING THE NAVIGATION OF THE RIVER THAMES, AND FOR PREVENTING ENCROACHMENTS ON THE SAID RIVER, &c. &c.
Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen, Having the honour to communicate to you my sentiments and observations on a view of the premises
of the Lower District of the River Thames Navigation, from the City Stone above Staines, to the City *Ayte,
* This local term is spelled by guess.
at Strand under Green, near the moorings of the city barge, below Kew Bridge, at a juncture peculiarly critical, both in regard to the state of the navigation, the season of the year, and the measures pending before Parliament in respect to other navigations, I trust I shall be pardoned for taking a somewhat more ample scope than was at first intended; and for premising the circumstances out of which a detailed examination of the subject matter has arisen, in order to justify the measures adopted; and to elucidate any seeming variance or liberty, which might, otherwise, appear extraneous to gentlemen who may happen to be but partially informed of these transactions, and their relative interests.
I beg leave to recite that, in the month of November last past, by letter to Mr. Woodthorpe, I had the honour to propose
"to make the River Thames (from above bridge upwards to its highest navigable source) a complete navigation, at small comparative expence, by simple and easy means, without concerning with any canal navigation, without subverting the natural current, without any material delay, such as is customary by lockage, and without taking water from mills, or any other legal claimants."
In consequence of this proposition, I had, (in conjunction with Mr. Samuel Miller, who is equally concerned with me in,
and chief inventor of the gates) the honour of laying before your Worshipful SubCommittee, on the 29th November, at my own apartments,
a satisfactory demonstration of our principles and propositions, by means of certain explanations, accompanied by models;
and, on the 7th December, we had the honour to make farther exhibitions before your Worships, at Guildhall, of additional models,
drawings, and estimates.
Your Worships were on that day pleased to resolve
"That Colonel Tatham be requested to view the river at such places as Mr. Truss, the Clerk of the Works, shall point out; and prepare an estimate of the whole expence, for which he will undertake to place gates in that part, according to his * models [See Appendix C], provided the Committee should deem that measure expedient."
On the day following, to wit, Wednesday, the 8th December, 1802, I received an appointment from Mr. Truss, to meet him at Staines
on either of the two following days, (Thursday or Friday) at the Bush Inn, where he should, each day, wait for me till eleven o'clock.
But, being delayed by a miscarriage of a preparatory letter, sent by the two-penny post, I reached Brentford on Thursday evening, and applied myself to the study of my subject till the next morning, when I was joined by Mr. Miller, who accompanied me to meet Mr. Truss at Staines, according to his appointment.
I beg leave to suggest, that the information I had, by this time, received, induced me to doubt whether a partial application of our proposed gates, at the spot proposed at Laleham Gulls, would prove an efficient remedy, when considered in the abstract, without taking up the subject as a general operation; at least so far as concerned the shoals between that and the second district; and I confess I am not yet satisfied that so much can be performed as I stand pledged for to the Worshipful the Grand Committee, so long as the upper districts command the water, without some systemised regulation for the management of the whole stream.
Nor could I, under these apprehensions, acquit my conscience in permitting a voluntary oversight to mislead the City of London into an expence, which I might think threatened abortion in all other respects than the profit which might attach to the undertaking, but which I shall, nevertheless, be ready to engage in, when I have had an opportunity of approving the estimate herewith to be submitted by * Mr. Miller [See Appendix C], my coadjutor, whose care of this particular, for our joint account renders his knowledge superior on this specific part of the business at present.
With this view of the case, I think it not improper to report to the Worshipful Committee, that I have conceived it my duty to assume a latitude, for security's sake, beyond that which was expressly given to me in the letter of the resolution; and this still more especially, when I recollected the advance of the winter season, the handsome manner in which I had been received by the Committee, and their polite and friendly intimation, personally communicated by their worthy Chairman, that I should apply freely for the removal of any difficulties which might occur in the prasecution of the business submitted.
Hence I was led (by the fairest motives, I trust,) to request Mr. Truss's information on a series of written questions on relative points, whereby I conceived I should be placed in a condition to act more safely, and to speak with precision, by comprehending the subject more clearly.
These queries chiefly related to a knowledge of the existing surveys and reports; the alterations which had followed such; the accuracy which had been observed in them; the present general state of the river; the annual extremes of the tides and land floods; the most material encroachments, breaches, embankments, and alluvial results; the effects of the practice of flashing; the state of the towing paths; the destruction of ropes; the rights of fisheries; and the formation of aytes.
But, as this worthy officer of the navigation did not consider the specific resolution of the Worshipful the Grand Committee
as a sufficient authority for this kind of investigation; as a view of the country and river, added to respectable information
concerning the probable disposition of Parliament towards some kind or other of perfect navigation, induced me to believe both
the river navigation and that of the port to be somewhat hazarded; and as I declined to leave the future credit of our principles to
any doubtful contingency, I concluded with Mr. Miller, that he should accompany Mr. Truss on the specific view of Laleham Gulls,
while myself and assistant proceeded to a more general view of the subject, by following the river along its banks,
so as to be able to judge, in some degree, by an examination of the several impediments.
The violence of a storm of wind and rain was so great by the time we reached Chertsey Bridge, that we were compelled to desist from our enquiries, and return to town; and as I understood a Sub-Committee was about to meet on the next day (the 11th Dec.) I thought it proper to suggest the difficulties which had occurred to such of the worshipful members as I happened to meet with.
The result of this casual communication was a personal information, through the Clerk of the Committee, in substance, that
although the Sub-Committee were ever tenacious that no infringement of orders, or of the offices of the Grand-Committee, should ever take place in their proceedings, yet, inasmuch as they were, chiefly, the same members in the Grand-Committee as were now convened; inasmuch as there was nothing in the nature of my request but what corresponded with the spirit of their desires, they had undertaken to express the same, verbally, to Mr. Truss, their Clerk of the Works, who understood the same, and who would furnish me with the necessary information, boat, and assistance.
Thus encouraged, and with the help of an able, intelligent, and useful assistant (Mr. Thomas Milbourne, assistant to the waterbailiff,
recommended to me by the waterbailiff, Mr. Shepherd, in case I should need such a person,) I have the honour to inform the Worshipful Committee,
that my coadjutor, Mr. Miller, and myself, have been enabled to divide the labour of the undertaking, and to unite our endeavours
to analyse the subject matter of investigation to the greatest possible advantage which time and circumstances would permit,
the result whereof, on my part, I have the honour to annex in the nature of an Appendix.
With the permission of the Worshipful Committee, I beg leave to submit to their consideration a few points, whereon my mind is anxiously impressed for the safety and interest of the River Thames navigation, and for the ease and comfort of the Worshipful Committee, as well as for the certainty of their official proceedings.
Concerning the safety and interest of the river navigation, I am persuaded it is materially risked and injured, through the power* [See Appendix, C.]
held over it by the upper districts, in regard to their command of the water employed for the use of the mills, and in the practice of flashing;
thereby frequently thwarting the regular laws of nature with a capricious management and use of this very powerful element +.
+ Mr. Truss states, that the practice of flashing leaves the river, at some times, almost dry for twenty-four hours; and that after a flash, he has walked over the river dry-shod, near Marlow. See Parliamentary Report, 1793.
2dly, By the practice of gaining lands from the river, thereby stealing soil, as it were, from the adjacent estates, and at the expence of the navigation, lengthening and widening the water-way, so as to produce a breaking in of the banks on one side, and a creation of shoals on the other; thereby changing the natural current, and directing its velocity to mischievous effects.
3dly, By the practice of driving stakes and piles, for the ends of fishing-stops, camshots, patch-work, or partial repairs.
And, 4thly, By the want of some regular, uniform system (throughout the whole navigation) from London to Lechlade, so that contrary practices may be avoided, and the channel thereby preserved.
I apprehend the remedies for this description of existing evils to be the following:
1st. If it is the pleasure of the Worshipful Committee to go generally into the adoption of such as our patent gates, (which, I am fully persuaded, would be the best for all parties, for cheapness, expedition, durability, and power.) I cannot countenance, as an honest man, the idea which my apprehension combats, of going to the expence of so great an experimental * operation as that which the resolution of the 7th December last proposes,
* My.coadjutor, Mr. Miller, thinks there is no risk on this head, and that the operation may be safely undertaken. See Appendir, C.
unless the Commissioners of the Upper Districts should think proper to accede to an uniform adoption of the plan and principles which we have offered to the acceptance of the Worshipful Committee, and that point to be previously settled, and permanently adjusted.
But, on the contrary, I beg leave to remind the Worshipful Committee, that many instances are stated in the detail, Appendix A, where the experiment of the aforesaid gates may be usefully tried, at little expence, and without risk, in the management of small or side cuts, or gauge gates, of which I have given an example, which may be referred to in Appendix B.
2dly, I think it my duty to advise, that neither the prospect of catching fish, gaining new land, or affording a temporary relief
to the larger barges, should shake the determination of the Committee to pursue a certain regular, uniform plan, though the state of the
city's funds should render the work necessarily, nay annually, a progressive operation.
Concerning the ease and comfort of the Worshipful the Grand Committee in their official investigations, and the certainty of the measures they may think fit to adopt, with a view to produce effect, I cannot learn that they are in possession of any plan of the Lower District, which I conceive to be sufficiently accurate at this day, or on a large-enough scale for the use of a public board, whose office is to act on a delineated representation of existing evils and projected remedies.
I find, there were plans of the River Thames navigation taken by Mr. Nicholls, the 2d Geo. III. from Lechlade to London;
2dly, By Messrs. Brindly and Whitworth, in 1770, from Boulter's Lock to Mortlake;
3dly, By the same gentleman, in 1770, from Reading to London;
4thly, By Mr. King, in 1787, from Lechlade to Reading;
5thly, By Mr. Mylne, in 1791, as annexed to his report;
6thly, By Mr. Rennie, in 1794, as annexed to his report;
7thly, By Mr. Whitworth, 1794-5, an amendment of his former survey;
besides the projected Datchett canal, and some other partial sketches.
But I do not discover that any of these are either on a scale sufficiently large, or that they exhibit, in detail, an authenticity to be relied on for transactions of a public nature.
If, however, more than twenty-five years practice in this part of the business, may be allowed to have qualified my judgment of this deficiency, I beg leave to recommend to the Worshipful Grand Committee,
that a new and topographical survey of the Lower District of the River Thames navigation be made, from Westminster Bridge to the County Stone above Staines; and that the same, together with all the banks, shoals, islands, and material impediments to the said navigation, with the soundings thereof, be accurately delineated on an extensive scale; and that the same be so minutely engraven, without any indulgence to the fanciful tool of the artist, that the Worshipful Committee may be thereby enabled to act with precision at Guildhall; and that the annual or periodical changes may be thereon faithfully represented in colours, to the end that every possible fraud or imposition may be detected; and that the city's officers may be enabled to discharge their respective trusts with facility, pleasure, and certainty.
I beg leave of the Worshipful the Grand Committee, moreover, that, (notwithstanding I have hereunto attached a detail, Appendix A,
somewhat more voluminous than may be customary on ordinary engineering occasions, yet, when it is considered how much the City of London
have at stake on the present occasion, how far the season of the year is advanced, and how much it may be to their advantage,
that their officers and agents possess some kind of portable summary to refer to, during the contests which are likely to come forward
in competition with the River Thames navigation,) I may be permitted to take a little farther notice of the general subject,
and of certain leading points and particulars, which it may not prove useless to call frequently to our recollection.
And I cannot but lament that the literal constructions of some who have acted with me in the investigation of an affair of so much magnitude, have cramped my knowledge of certain local effects, which, I conceive, tend materially to the elucidation of the general topic.
So far, however, as we may be permitted to enjoy those lights of reason and record, which flow from the works of those who have been previously employed; and particularly from that sound and honest father of English navigation, Mr. Brindly, a man whose sheer native talents have bestowed more on the prosperity of English commerce, and its community, than all the affected mystery and humbug of a favourite self-created society put together; we may venture to take a retrospect, which will, I flatter myself, shew its utility at a glance.
Mr. Brindley, in speaking generally of the state of this navigation, in December 1770, says,
[ * Brindley's Rep. Dec. 12, 1770.]
"The material obstructions and inconveniences are considerable and many; for it hath been found by experience, to be impassable for barges in time of flood, which, in most years, continues several months during the winter, and is out of the power of art to remedy +.
[+ It will be remembered, that all science is progressive: great as Mr. Brindley was, he knew nothing of our gates; so that professional, "self-created" engineers may sometimes learn from "speculative engineers", "theorists, and projectors."
It likewise is impassable in time of long droughts, for want of a sufficient depth of water; but this difficulty may be removed; and the most effectual way to do it would be, by making dams and (cisterns) locks, the dams to pound up to one another," &c.
But, "if they be made to pound more than five or six feet, some of the lands will be laid under water," &c.
Mr. Truss, in speaking of the navigation from Staines to Isleworth, states, that *
[ * See Mr. Truss's examination before a Committee of Parliament, May 1793.]
in dry summers there is no more than two feet six inches of water for six months together; that he knows of no other method by which the river could be effectually improved, so as to give three feet ten inches of water at all times, but by making of pound locks, which, (as there is thirty-six feet fall) he apprehends would require nine locks from Staines to Richmond.
I believe, even the Crown-and-Anchor Society stop short at pound lock ultimatum !
Now, if I am right in my recollection, by Act the 28th Geo. III. no pound lock is to be erected below Boulter's Lock :
thus, if this law is not repealed, every idea of this only method known to modern professional practice must cease.
But, it, perhaps fortunately, happens, that men termed "speculative engineers", "projectors", and, possibly, innovators of peculating experience ! have devised a new power in this respect, which will probably bear a competition with hackneyed knowledge, if we are to respect Mr. Brindley's estimate
[* Brindley's Rep. Dec. 12, 1770, p. 3.]
of a dam and locks between Mortlake and Kew Bridge at £17,500;
or Mr. Whitworth's +
[+ Whitworth's Parl. Exam. 1793, p. 17.]
estimate for a lock proposed at Chertsey, which would cost between £2,000 and £3,000.
It will be observed in my Appendix (A), that I have brought the detail examination of the river from Staines down to Kew Bridge.
I thought it proper to leave off at this place, because, when I went on board the city barge at Strand under Green, the young gentleman, who I found on board in Mr. Truss's absence, seemed to think there was nothing worth examination at that place, or below.
As I found other opinions vary in this respect, I still think it will be proper to pay some little regard to this part of the river also; and, more especially, as at half past ten o'clock in the morning, I found vessels detained at Kew Bridge, whose bargemen told me they should not be able to move till seven o'clock that evening.
Mr. Brindley, in speaking of this part of the river says *
[* Rep. Dec, 12, 1770, p. 2.]
Upon examining that part of the river between Mortlake and Richmond Gardens, I find much time is lost, particularly in neap tides,
owing to the shoals and sand-banks arising on, or towards, the towing side, between those two places, which cannot be passed over a great part
of the tide of ebb; so that vessels not being able to reach this place before high water it
must remain to the next tide, which they need not do, as the towing-path begins at Mortlake, could they have a sufficient depth of water
to float them up." Mr. Brindley then proposes a dam and two locks here, which would cost £17,500.
[+ This being precisely the case with the barges which I found stopped at Kew Bridge, it follows, of course, that the impediments spoken of by Mr. Brindley, in 1770, are not yet removed: but I have no hesitation in saying, that these difficulties can be overcome; and that it is important to set about them. W.T.]
This account, permit me to say, corresponds so exactly with the fact found at Kew Bridge by myself, and is so directly contrary to the
opinion stated to me at the city barge, that it would seem fitting to contrast the two opposite suppositions.
I there exists a persuasion somewhere, that, provided the barges can get up at all, it is immaterial whether at one tide or two : gentlemen should recollect, however, that this language of passive obedience is not an argument for competition.
Hence we are enabled to discover that there yet exists many formidable difficulties to be removed out of the way of a perfect river navigation; and by comparing the lock navigation mentioned by Messrs. Brindley and Whitworth, and so celebrated by the the most favoured engineers of the old school, with the gates of two "speculative projectors", exhibited before your Worships, I trust, we shall find in the latter, both a competency to greater effects; a very considerable saving of expenditure; and that they may be lawfully permitted below Boulter's Lock, being in no wise excluded in the spirit or letter of the act of Parliament, 28th Geo. III.
Lest, however, any one should hesitate at the mere sound of an expence which will be found, in the cheapest way, a thing beyond the amount of the ordinary transactions of individuals, I beg leave to call the attention of the Worshipful Committee to several interesting items, in which the City of London will prove to be infinitely a gainer, as stated in Appendix (F).
Amongst such, I shall not be deemed a visionary calculator, if I estimate
the value of town property on the river side;
the saving of towing ropes;
a saving of animal labour to amount of three-fourths of the towing horses employed on the river;
a very material saving of time, corresponding with the saving of horses;
a relief of the friction of barges and shoals, with the consequent deterioration;
a relief of the banks and overflowings of land, producing proportionate improvements in agriculture;
a return of trade into the river navigation, which is driven to the conveyance of roads and canals, on account of the difficulties subsisting in the Thames;
increase of regular land waters, for scouring out the channel on the heels of the ebbing tide;
and a renovating of the common sewer of the country, which has been for many ages decreasing.
I beg leave to reserve the detail of these particulars for their more appropriate place in the Appendix,
and Have the honour to be,
SIR, AND GENTLEMEN,
Your obedient humble servant,
No.7, Staples Inn Buildings, Holborn,
January 6, 1803.
Observations, Enquiries, Notes, and Remarks, concerning the Shoals and other Impediments which obstruct the Navigation of the River Thames, between the City Stone, above Staines, and the Tide-way above London, commenced by William Tatham, on Friday, the 10th of December, 1802.
Having met Mr. Truss, according to his
appointment, at the Bush Inn, in this place,
we proceeded to examine the river, in view
of this public-house, at the boundary between the counties of Middlesex and Buckingham, marked by
THE CITY STONE.
This landmark terminates the jurisdiction of the City of London over the River Navigation, inasmuch as it marks the extent of the First District, as laid out by Act 2 Geo. III. which was afterwards placed under the jurisdiction of the City of London by Act 14 Geo. III.
But it may be another question, how far an express, or virtual repeal, may have operated, touching the rights of conservancy and fishery, which have been vested in the City of London time immemorial. And I am the more desirous that this enquiry should be attended to, inasmuch as it is of some importance to the River Thames Navigation, both above and below London Bridge, that there should be no undue tampering with, or subversive of, the resources of the river above.
The right of the City of London to the conservancy of the navigation and fisheries of the River Thames, is founded on the following solemn acts of the jurisprudence of the land:
1. By prescription and ancient usage, the,
City of London "hath ever enjoyed and
exercised, on the River Thames, the right
of conservancy, as well of the width or avenue, ( by occasionally inspecting the boundaries) as of the fisheries;
with power and authority to remove all nuisances, & c."
See Sharp on the Encroachments of Durham Yard, p. 3, 4. Printed by G. Bigg, 1771.
2. By a possession, use, and custom, exceeding the memory of man, the City of London holds the right of conservancy :
" Longum tempus et longus usus, qui excedit memorian hominum, sufficit pro jure. "
Princ. Leg. et &AEleg;qu. p. 55. See also Co. Lit. 115.
3. "Civitas Londini habeat omnes libertates suas antiquas et consuetudines suas."
- Magna Charta, cap. 9.
4. Possessio pacifica pour anns 60. facit jus.
- See Judge Jenkins, art. 96.
5. In regard to wares for catching fish in the River Thames, the conservancy is confirmed to the City of London, even so far back as by the charter of Richard the First, ch. 2. cited in the royal charter to the City of London, granted by Charles the Second, p. 9. as followeth:
"We have clearly quit claimed all that which the Keepers of the Tower of London were wont yearly to receive of the said weirs."
6. "Et civitas Londinensis habeat omnes antiquas libertates et liberas consuetudines suas tam per terras quam per aquas"
Charter granted by King John, cited in the Posthumous Works of Sir H. Spelman, p. 63.
Thus we find, in these sketches of the law, for which I am greatly indebted to the previous investigations of my friend, Granville Sharp, Esq. ample authorities to confirm the right of conservancy in the City of London, tam per terras quamper aquas; extending to controul the weirs up the river, as well as to preserve the navigation of the port below. And I am the more desirous that this should be well understood, because I am not wholly without apprehensions that there may be occasion to assert this right in opposition to canal intrusions, as well as in support of that essential principle of property, which bids every man to use his own in a way that shall not injure his neighbours.
The City Stone, it seems, is placed
somewhat in the middle way of a shoal or
gull, which Philip Rosewell says, has three
feet at low water; and hence arises a doubt
whether it shall be repaired at the expence
of the First or Second District.
This circumstance cannot be otherwise than injurious to the general improvement of the river navigation; for if all the rest was made perfect, both above and below, this would still be a broken link in the chain of commercial communication, and must always have a tendency to injure the work next below it *.
[* See Mr. Mylne's examination before a Committee of Parliament, May 1793.]
Just below this stone, on the northern bank of the river, there is some little mischief done by a breach, which seems to be of long standing; and the injury is evidently accumulating. Both Districts ought to join heartily in this repair, and they should take into consideration every part of the subject matter which may combine to prevent an increase of the breach during high floods, and tend to bring the water to an easier level.
If the gentlemen of the Upper District should not think proper to lend their aid, or combine to do this at joint expence, I should recommend to the City District to ballast out a sufficiency of the main channel at the foot of the shallow part, near the Stone, to give water to barges till past their boundary, securing such excavation in the best possible way which so compulsory a restriction will permit, for their own safety here and below; and raising the water, by means of one of our proposed side-gates, to be self acting, placed across the narrow stream which runs round the adjoining ayte on the Middlesex shore; so that the same may be either used as a stop-gate to turn the water into the main channel when such help may be needed, or to act as a gauge gate to relieve the press of the current, whenever the land floods swell too high.
As I think it proper to submit some small operation, such as this side-gate, to the consideration of the Worshipful Committee, in comparison with the gates proposed at Laleham Gulls, I shall state this matter more particularly in a separate paper, Appendix ( B.)
At this place is a handsome, spacious,
iron bridge, not quite completed; but so
soon as it is, and the old bridge is removed,
I apprehend the navigation will be greatly
bettered by it.
Yet I cannot consider the improvement here complete, till an interrupted part of the towing path is connected from the bridge along the river side, to a place where the horses stop on the Middlesex shore, near the pay-gate, at the distance of a few hundred yards below.
At this spot I found several barges waiting, as they said, for a flash; though other barges of considerable burthen found means to get along.
The water was said to be about one foot lower than common good water.
The people we met with, at this place, were evasive in their answers; and, clearly, averse to giving us any light, which tended to better the condition of the navigation.
From lateral information of the farmers and country bargemen from above, we learnt that it is very common for barges to remain several days at this place; and, I am induced to suspect, on the whole view of our evidence, that this is rather a kind of pluck-'em-in rendezvous; where there are men who find their account in every pretext for delay, and have an interest in the monies spent in consequence of the stoppages they can find means to contrive.
Such evils as, these, and the impediments which result from them, are, often, more injurious than the defects of the river.
They ought to be narrowly watched, and suitable remedies devised.
Fishing Temple Road is on the south bank on the 90 degree bend just below the place marked Truss's Island
At low water, which I understand to be
about three feet at this place, barges wait,
here, for a flash, which is expected twice a
week; but the adjacent farmers tell us,
that these flashes are not always to be depended
on; and that it frequently happens, that there
is not more than one flash in a week, which
comes down hither.
I shall forbear to point out any specific remedy, for the navigable channel, beyond that which may arise from a side gate at the head of the ayte, below the crown of this shoal, similar to the one proposed at the City Stone; and such as ought to be adopted at all similar places, for the governance of the river, either during low water or floods.
At this place, we saw twelve horses towing a barge against the current; and the
farmers at work in the opposite field tell us,
that they frequently see 13 to 18, and sometimes 19 horses put to a barge.
Such an additional expence must be a great drawback on this navigation, and favourable to those in competition with it; but, I flatter myself, as the fall is not very considerable, a due attention to the water way, and to calculating the works below, will relieve this difficulty, without a distinct operation : I understand three feet to be the low water depth here.
The land floods have worked so long at
this neck of land, that, in the narrowest part,
it does not exceed fifty yards over, though the
whole extent of the place may be about a
thousand yards round, from point to point of
the cut, which, I think, ought to be made.
For, having an eye to the easy relief of land floods, according to the gentle curve or natural inclination of the river, I should think it a very unsafe operation to cut across the narrowest part, as some have recommended.
According to my judgment, a longer excavation should be made, forming the line of the bank on the Middlesex main land, into a gentle continued sweep with the river.
A double * set of our new flood gates, placed somewhat lock-ways in the cut, would effectually command the water, both for navigation and relief; [* Mr. Miller thinks this may do without gates; con structing those at Laleham Gulls high enough for both places.]
and one good end would be thereby secured, which might prove of importance to the navigation of Laleham Gulls: I mean, that the navigation would then be supplied + prior to the loss of water for the use of Oxley Mills; at least, if the groundsels of the cut gates were laid low enough for the purpose.
[+ I think it proper to explain, here, that I do not call this taking water away from the mills, which would be contrary to what I have pledged.
It is only exercising a previous right, self existing, on the same principles of property, as a security to both parties.
In proof, let me ask, what either the miller or landlord would do, if the City of London permitted nature to take her own course, in making the new channel she has so long con tended for, while the City have stood between the pro prietor and danger, at great expence? Such a breach might injure these premises ( and pray who would be answerable?).
The navigation would, ultimately, change for the better.]
But, to avoid all difficulty
on this head, I think it would be advisable for
the City of London to become the proprietors of the mills; for, in the present state of
the thing, they do much mischief by taking
the water out at Penton Hook, and a little
more, by putting it in again at the foot of
I measured the Middlesex side of the cut I propose, and found it 154 yards, with a fall of 143 inches.
The soil is about one foot loam; and, under that, all gravel.
Each end will require about 40 feet of river ballasting.
I shall be more particular in a specific statement hereon, in Appendix ( D.)
I found two of Mr. Truss's men, at work here, preparing the Hook for the attack of the winter storms; and there is a kind of apron, laid on the middle of the neck of land, to sustain the shock of the current when the water shall break over * :
[* I am inclined to think, if the repairs which are annually done, have been done, and still remain in prospect, are estimated here, they will pay for more than the interest of the sum, necessary to make a perfect cut. W.T.]
but this appears to me to be a make-shift, imperfect measure; and I should prefer a more effectual cut, paying regard to the works and water-way, so as to ease the flood on its rise.
Indeed, in regard to that means of reducing the power of the stream, by weakening its force in due time, the River Thames offers many advantageous situations; and, I confess, I cannot but be at a loss for the motives of engineers, who have weakened their own strength so repeatedly on this river, in blocking up the waste-way round the aytes, as a means of contracting the channel, for the partial end of a temporary passage.
I learn, ( from Philip Rosewell, the man
furnished by Mr. Truss) that the shoal here
has about two feet ten inches water on it, at
There is also a shoal on the Middlesex shore, which, in case a cut across the Hook is made, should be ballasted away, to bring the barge channel nearer to the towing path; and to give a straighter direction to the current, which, by setting strongly on the Surry side, may otherwise do mischief; on the one hand by a direct breach, and on the other, by a counter stream running sharply against the bank below.
The current from hence is tolerably gentle; but when it approaches Laleham, a little above the public-house called the Greyhound, there has been a camshot constructed at some expence, designed to secure the bank and towing path: but the current has acted so powerfully on the shore at this place, as to make its way among the timbers, and has done mischief for a distance of about four hundred yards, producing considerable incavation.
I am inclined to believe, that if this bank had been sloped off, and covered with strong gravel, so as to ease the waters, gradually, in the time of winter floods and ice, it would have answered far better than the camshot; and that the river would have been in better condition, at much less expence.
The under-soil, here, appears to be a strong brown loam, not likely to stand the washing of the floods.
I perceive, that men are now at work here, employed in grubbing up a hedge, which I am told has been lately purchased, to the extent of forty feet back, for additional towing room: I am persuaded it still merits consideration, whether this camshot should not be taken away, and the bank sloped and gravelled.
If the cut is made at Penton Hook, two birds may be killed with one stone (as it is called): this being within the distance calculated, in estimate Appendix (D.) for the deposit of the material to be excavated.
The rapids and shoals in this place commence near the Greyhound post-house; a
little below the ferry, there are four successive wears [sic 'weirs'?] in about one hundred yards.
Gates might easily be fixed here; and I apprehend it will be requisite to construct an * upper gate at this place, having a set of lower gates at the foot of the Gulls, as near as convenient to Chertsey Bridge, which is in sight, below.
[* Mr. Miller thinks not: he is persuaded the lower gates may be safely raised high enough to pass up to Staines.
My apprehension is, that such a line of contact will not relieve the towing expences sufficiently to bring the river navigation in competition with canal conveyance; and I think, as such competition may be expected in more instances than one, that consideration should have serious weight with the Worshipful Committee. W.T.]
The wears are, in some parts of these Gulls, on both sides the river; and I think they may afford a basis for fixing gates at less expence.
But, in this case, due attention should be paid to the waterway.
It merits consideration, whether a cut ought not to be made into the back water of the river which connects itself with the Oxley Mill - tail Water; and whether that ought not to be conducted along the inside of the aytes, on the Surry side of the river below; by means of a cut and embankment, passing under the road in front of the Cricketers public-house, and into the river just below Chertsey Bridge.
I think such a cut, commanded by side-gates, would contribute greatly to manage the river at option in floods and droughts; both the river and mill would thus be greatly benefited; and about four acres of good land, or more, would be gained thereby.
Under these impressions, I thought it proper to take levels, and to measure the ground: of this I shall speak more fully in Appendix (E.)
At the foot of these rapids, below the ferry
at Laleham, on the Middlesex side, the
land has been much injured by the floods for
about 200 yards; and, considering the quantity laid waste, I think repairs and embankments would be well paid for,
by the acquisition of soil; which would be rendered a
safer operation in case the scheme of a side
gate for the relief of the land floods should
be adopted, on the before-suggested cut, to
communicate with the Oxley Mill- tail Water.
At this place I met with Mr. Samuel Miller, who ( having set off the day before me, while I was at Guildhall in search of a more competent indulgence from the Worshipful Committee, than the specific authority on which I had proceeded at first) had been nearly two days employed on the investigation which the Worshipful Committee had required of me, by their resolution of the 7th December; and with the assistance of the man (Philip Rosewell) and boat, which Mr. Truss had assigned to my service.
Under these circumstances, I thought it best for the interest of the City, that Mr. Miller should complete, without my interfering, the work he had so zealously undertaken.
I therefore, necessarily, refer to his report; but I am, nevertheless, ready to repeat the specific investigation immediately, if the Worshipful Committee shall think proper to require it of me.
Mr. Whitworth surveyed this place some
years ago, for a lock, which he estimated at
between two and three thousand pounds:
much more, I flatter myself, than will be required to render the navigation complete,
over every impediment which is presented
The channel is very narrow, and not more than two feet ten inches water in low times.
Philip Rosewell informs me, that it is a frequent practice for barges to contend for the channel at this place; and that great mischief is done to the river in consequence thereof.
This practice occasions what is termed blowing up the gravel, and shifting it from place to place; and he thinks the winter floods are materially injurious to the river at this spot.
I observe that the banks on the Surry shore are much injured, and demand attention for a considerable distance; but the remedy required, being in its nature relative to other operations, I shall leave my opinion thereon suspended, till the governing principles are adjusted.
On the Middlesex side the land lies flat, and there is a waste committed which might be partially avoided; but, I apprehend, not wholly, unless a general embanking system was to take place, with a view to better the lands by an agricultural management, which they appear to stand in need of.
I admit this digression as a pertinent item; because I am persuaded, in many instances on this river, as much land might be regained as would pay the expence of improving the navigation.
There is here a small field for the exercise of this species of economy; for the horses' track, for some distance, through the water where it has encroached on the land, and there is a kind of turfed causeway for them to pass on during the existence of the land floods, or high water.
Thomas Milbourne, who accompanied me
as a guide, estimates low water, on the crown
of this shoal, at two feet six inches; and, to
overcome this difficulty, Mr. Truss has
caused the foot of the stream to be contracted, by means of wears projecting from
each shore, but most so from the Surry
By this operation, there appears to be a gain of four or six inches water; but there is still a rapid, strong current.
I shall not here attempt to ascertain either the section or velocity.
I apprehend * a set of the proposed patent gates, at the foot of this shoal, will do most part of the business; yet some attention to the damages noticed above, ought to be added to the probable ex pences, which will be somewhat accurately stated by Mr. Miller, I hope, agreeable to his separate investigation, according with the arrangement to which I have consented.
[* Mr. Miller thinks ballasting, without gates, will do this effectually.
I have not ascertained this point by actual levels, for want of time, and on account of its being submitted to him; but I confess I am timorous concerning a breaking of the crown of the Shoal. W.T.]
The width of the channel, at the foot of this shoal, appears to be about 80 feet; and I am told the tail water will, at all times, admit of three feet draft; but, as some what more will be required, we must allow for a little ballasting.
On the Surry side of the river, below
this place, there seems to be some late work
well executed, by sloping the bank and relieving the press of the floods; but the
gaining of land, by means of an accumulating ayte, and the contracting the channel,
by stopping the waste way, without attending to the means of occasional relief, do not
correspond with my idea of economy in this
I should, on all similar occasions, recommend the adoption of self-acting side gates, for the relief of the floods, and support of the navigation.
At Dog Ayte, the river divides into a
Middlesex and a Surry channel; but the
City Agents have fenced off the Surry
stream with a kind of wear, or camshot, from
the shore to the ayte; though I think, with
but little advantage, and great risk of mischief in time of high waters.
The place is marked by a white guide-post; and here again, the chief operation seems to be that of gaining land at the expence of the water way and the neighbouring premises.
The length of the shoal is about 150 yards; and I understand, from Mr. Milbourne, that low water upon it is from 2 feet 6 inches to 2 feet 9 inches.
As various modifications of the improvements which might be made were presented here, I beg leave to offer a few remarks on them, without forming a conclusion.
The first in order is that which concerns the particular shoal we are arrived at, in our progress down the meanders of the river; and I confess, I am not clearly of opinion that the right channel has been preferred.
In either case, a set of gates should be placed at the foot of the shoal, and self-acting side-gates should be substituted instead of a close wear on the opposite channel; for this is one of those cases where nature should be indulged in the course she has shaped out for the relief of the floods.
It admits of, and merits an enquiry, however, whether a direct cut, understanding the same and all others to be manageable by our side-gates, should not be made from the river above, near Docket Bush, so as to take a second cut through Stoner's Gut, and a third passing through the inside of Folly Ayte, and then through the low grounds near Oatlands, to terminate near Walton Bridge.
Such a line of short cuts as the two first, would obviate the several shoals, particularly those between Dog Ayte and the lower end of Weybridge, passing round the bite, or bend of the river, at Stoner's Gut; and the practicable continuation would also avoid some difficulties in passing two short turns and a shoal near Shepperton, where we saw a barge rub the bottom, so as to be a heavy draft to eleven strong horses.
But of this more in its appropriate place.
[ 1813: Shepperton Lock built at Stoner's Gut ]
To prevent a breach, which there is great
reason to apprehend at this place, the City
Agents have done a good work, by constructing an embankment of piling and gravel;
but I should recommend a thorough cut at
this place, to be commanded by a pair of
gates, making the bed of the present river
rather a waste way to relieve the press of a
flood, than to continue it a navigation;
and, in any case, some ballasting will be required.
The barges are frequently stopped here; and, according to Rosewell's account, the shoal continues to settle downwards from below Dog Ayte, round the peninsula.
I took the levels here, and found the fall across Stoner's Gut to be one foot three inches and one- eighth.
This cut would tend to relieve the press of floods on Lord Portmore's pleasure grounds; and they would not be the worse for a few guard-piles to keep off the ice.
Should such an operation take place, I apprehend the Worshipful Committee will be relieved from farther attention to the shoal at Weybridge, and the impediment in turning the point near the mouth of Guildford river.
[1887: Folly Eyot purchased by D'Oyly Carte and now called D'Oyly Carte Island]
At this place the Ayte lays between the
towing-path and the barges, and forms a
mere bank of gravel connected with the
About three acres of land might be saved by making a cut, and it should afterwards take its direction for Walton Bridge: but, from the account I have had of the overflowing of these lowgrounds, I am persuaded such a measure would require an expensive embanking.
This circumstance renders it proper to examine the lateral prospect on the Middlesex side of the river in considering our next station.
A common sewer comes in at this ayte, which needs a little attention.
It is on the Surry side, and the horses have slipped into it.
[ On what is now the Old River, bypassed by Desborough Cut (1930s)]
There are two short turns in this part of
the river; one at Shepperton Hope, and the
other at Halliford Point, otherwise called
Lower Hawford, which are very inconvenient to the barges.
I think both these and the several impediments we have passed over above, may be avoided by a cut from Doomsday Bushes into the back-water at Shepperton: I understand this would be less than a mile; which, it is true, is less than half the distance by the river: it is, perhaps, better than to cut the other side; but I do not recommend either positively.
Stoner's Gut, would, in this case, be avoided, and the bed of the river might serve as a waste or sewer to the country.
This side-cut would come in by the malt house, near the Ship, at Halliford; and the press on the banks in the bend of the river, would, I confess, be greatly relieved by it.
If this cut should, however, be approved, and continuing its direction from the lower part of Halliford, into the river below Walton Bridge, difficulties might then be avoided; perhaps, more than equal to the expence.
[The most northerly point on the old river]
At this place, opposite the camshot, at
the lower end of Halliford, over on the
Surry side, there exists a shoal, or bank of
gravel thrown up by the land floods, which
should be ballasted out to make room for
The direction of the current, which has been caused by this choaking up of the natural channel, has torn the land to pieces below; and has severed an island from the main, which is now called Queensberry Ayte.
To get past this impediment, the horses track some distance in the water, with the barge on the opposite side of the island; and, at low times, the barges are subject to hang on the shoal, the water being then about 2 feet 6 inches.
A barge of 128 tons passed while we were at the place; and dragged so much, even at this season, that the exertion of eleven strong horses was hardly equal to the labour: and Mr. Milbourne informed me, that if the barge men had mismanaged their setting poles, they would, probably, have remained there fixed, as it were, for some time.
This difficulty will, probably, be overcome by the management of the shoals below, about Walton Bridge, if it should ultimately be determined to improve the present channel, merely.
Between the bend of the river below this and Oatlands, a little above Walton Bridge, there is a very dangerous place in the road near the river, which, I apprehend, it behoves the Worshipful Navigation Committee to take notice of.
The bank is much broken away, and deep water runs so near to the bank and road, that I am told no less than thirty-seven persons have been drowned there, in a short space of time, by getting out of the road during floods.
I understand Mr. Truss has been at some pains to keep a rail here, but that the bargemen, as assiduously, contrive to destroy it, because they consider it a hindrance to their towing.
This business should be strictly watched, minutely examined, and securely repaired.
Mens' lives ought not to be thus sported with; and, though the thing itself is, certainly, subject to indictment or presentation, yet, a better remedy would be to punish the malfeasance of the deterioration.
Many horses are said to have been lost here also.
At this place there are shoals, both above
and below, which need considerable repairs;
and a due attention to the water-way, so as
to relieve, as far as possible, the overflowing
of the low-lands above the bridge.
If the cut I have suggested from Doomsday Bushes, by Shepperton and Halliford, should be brought in below this bridge, as I have stated it may, it would give a considerable assistance in this respect; for, it should be observed that gates, such as we have proposed, give a power so superior to the ordinary mode of stopping up one side of the channel round an ayte to deepen the other, that they will contribute to discharge the floods much more speedily, and, consequently, prevent the freshes from overflowing so far into the adjacent grounds, if a general system of the kind proposed by us should take place.
It is on this account that I have been so particular concerning the management of the Upper Districts; for, although in ordinary times the practice of flashing may not effect the river very materially below, in respect to the action of its current, (probably raised only a few inches); yet, when by drying up and scouring alternately the bottom or bed of the river, in those Upper Districts, the sand and gravel becomes loosened, heaped, and disordered by such a practice in ordinary; it will, certainly, be more subject to effect, and change, from time to time, the deeps and shallows of the Lower District, as seems to have been the case hitherto, according to personal information from the inhabitants, and which we should, probably, find corroborated, if we were to compare an accurate survey of its present state, with one of that which existed at one or more former periods *.
[* In 1624, the River Thames was navigable beyond Oxford.
The 21st James I. an act of Parliament was passed to open the navigation of seven miles only, that were impeded between Burcot and Oxford.
See Anderson on Commerce, vol.ii. page 306, quarto edit.]
I confess when, from the top of Walton Bridge, I contemplate the vast scope of flat lands above;
when I am told that these are frequently
covered eight feet deep with the floods; and
when I consider how much more the water
way at Walton Bridge should be relieved
than it seems to be: nay, more especially,
when I see men repairing the bridge itself
at this season of the year, and making ready
to resist their annual enemy, I am more in
clined to every indulgence, by side cuts,
which can facilitate the discharge of the waters, while the same means are also
competent to regulate the depth and the velocity
of the navigation.
I understand the low-water depth on these shoals to be nearly the same which I have found it above, 2 feet 6 to 2 feet 9 inches; and though I am of opinion that gates may be so placed below the bridge as to help the navigation up to Halliford; nor do I in the least retract from my proposition in this respect, as first stated to the Worshipful Committee; yet when I consider the extensive tracts of land which would be bettered by a more general system, contemplating the good and quiet of every interest brought in question, I cannot but wish that the interests would go hand in hand with the City of London, to promote the general good by the most efficient means, and to render those competitions unnecessary which seem to be even striving, as it were, against the very existence of the Port itself.
Just below the foot of this bridge, I observe Lord Tankerville has a pleasure ground, so walled on the brink of the river, that the horses go in the water in consequence.
I understand the men who drive them generally get upon the wall during high floods, and let the horses swim, if it so happens.
If a raised road were made at this place, I do not see that the proprietor would be injured by it; but I am very certain the safety and accommodation of the horses and their proprietors would be materially secured.
And if his Lordship was also made acquainted with the slovenly practice of throwing the weeds and rubbish of his favourite spot into the water-way of the Thames, as the easy mean of getting rid of it, I doubt not but he would voluntarily redress an injury, such as he himself would, perhaps, remove by means of legal compul sion, if not by penal prosecution.
At this place, above Sunbury, the crown
of the shoal should be suffered to remain,
and the foot of it should be ballasted out, so
as to admit barges to come into it, and improve the water-way: the banks are in
themselves sufficient to bear the fixing of
gates here; some little work being added on
the aytes on the Middlesex shore.
This operation would, probably, pass the barges up to the next gates near Walton Bridge; but there is still a competition between the river and side-cut to Halliford, on the Middlesex side, which merits deliberation, that it be not misguided to the detriment of the river.
Low-water seasons, on this shoal, run
from 2 feet 4 or 5 inches to 2 feet 8 or 9
The current is very rapid, and wants embanking on the Surry side.
The foot of the shoal should then be ballasted out to admit the barges, and gates should be placed below, to be self-acting, on the new principle.
There is good water-way here to relieve the press of the land floods.
There is a long ayte here, which ought
to be embanked, and more land reclaimed;
the materials sufficient for this purpose may
be taken from the excavation of a waste
way, which I would beg leave to recommend as a relief to the floods which may
press upon two shoals successively.
One set of gates, and a side gate to command the current at pleasure, will then answer an efficient purpose.
From hence down to Cane-edge Gut is
termed Sunbury Flats; the general low-water draft is about 2 feet 6 inches; and to
better this, jetties, wears, &c. have been
constructed to turn the water into the barge channel.
This is, I apprehend, an erroneous operation, when compared with the proposed gates as side gates.
In the application of the former method, the wear serves to contract the channel in dry seasons; but, for want of relief by sufficient water-way when wet weather prevails, successive mischiefs must, necessarily, follow; and shifting shoals and aytes must be perpetually accumulating.
The remedy I would prefer, in passing all these flats and shoals, would be to convert the small channel into a canal, by deepening and connecting the aytes, as far as practicable, using sufficient gates for the ascent, and making the main river the sewer of the country, as well as a waste-way.
This ayte is long and large.
There is a short shoal near the head of it, allowing about 2 feet 6 inches water in dry seasons.
At the head of the ayte, Mr. Truss, I am told, has planted a willow hedge, and done some other work of the wear kind, to turn the river over to the Surry side from the Middlesex channel.
On the Surry shore the bank is good strong land, well coated with sward, and sloped to a convenient angle for the towing line.
An embankment of about two hundred yards on the ayte, with a set of gates in about four feet water at the foot of the shoal, would make this a good navigation, when about one hundred yards of ballasting is performed at the lower end of the shoal, to open access for the barges, and to improve the water-way in the time of floods.
A little ballasting ought also to be continued down to the head of Hampton Deeps, so that the channel may be relieved from the silt and gravel which has settled from above, and the bottom rendered more even.
Though there is no material obstruction
to the navigation, I think it not improper
to notice this place, on account of certain
peculiar privileges, which ought to be understood in the history of the river navigation.
I am informed that this is a choice spot in the river, reserved solely to the use of angling: that no seins, or other mode of entrapping fish than with the hook is permitted.
To favour this asylum for the fish, to encourage the sport of the place, and withall, perhaps, to render it more difficult to strangers, who sally forth from the city, I learn, the people about Hampton make a practice of sinking old boats, timbers, &c. as a harbour for the finny race; and they are found to lurk so safely in this retreat, that several instances of old and extraordinary fish, caught in Hampton Deeps, are recorded by paintings on the wall of a room in the adjacent public- house, near the church.
I will not undertake to say, that I have heard that any mischief to the navigation has been noticed to arise from this practice; but as the principle is one which carries some degree of risk and impropriety on the face of it, it seems fitting that it should be observed.
It is, perhaps, equally on the other hand to be expected, that in improving the river below, the crown of the next shoal should remain entire; for to ballast that out, so as to create a longer level, would, in some degree, necessarily affect the harbouring place of the fish, and furnish cause of complaint and annoyance to the barge navigation.
Opposite the late Duke of St. Alban's, a
little below the late Mr. Garrick's, and near
the head of Garrick's Upper Island, there is
a bank, or slip of mud and sand, which ought
to be ballasted out, for about 100 yards.
And at Mrs. Garrick's Lower Island there is a place called the Hog-hole, which, I am told, the bargemen consider as one of the worst places in the river.
This is situated in Hampton Gulls; and these Gulls are said to be all over full of broken, detached shoals, having only a depth of 2 feet 6 inches, or 2 feet 8 or 9 inches, during dry seasons.
There are various modes by which this place might be improved; as, for example, by connecting the two islands, and converting the water into one channel by a manageable side-gate; having a powerful set of self-acting gates near the foot of the island, would be one mode.
But, considering the approach of another shoal below, I am persuaded the best, and cheapest method would be to construct an effective set of gates across the river, at or near the King's Summer-house, on the Middlesex shore, above Hampton Court Bridge, now, I am told, in the occupancy of Sir George Young, or Mr. Fauquier.
This operation will require a good deal of partial ballasting for near a quarter of a mile; and if the City of London were to sacrifice the lands they have gained here, to the benefit of the navigation, I am persuaded they would not be losers.
On the lower side of this bridge, on the
Surry shore, there is a canal cut to Martin's
Mill, on the River Mole, to admit barges.
This mill is but a few hundred yards from the bridge; and it would be well to take the levels here, in order to ascertain what would be the effect of a side-gate, on the shoal below the Summer-house, some part whereof should be ballasted out, unless the gates next below the River Mole can be so contrived, as to flow the water up above the bridge at Hampton Court.
On the Middlesex side, just below this bridge, there is a railed way, called the Water Gallery, which forms part of the towing path, and deserves a serious attention.
Mr. Truss has, with great propriety, complained of the destruction of towing ropes as a drawback on the navigation; and at this place we discover a principal cause of this waste.
The persons having the care of this gallery, ( I am told under the Board of Works) have been at some pains to save their timber from the friction of the towing rope: certainly, common impressions of moral rectitude, and reciprocal justice, ought to teach them a due guard over their neighbours property in the protection of their own.
The fact is, that this gallery, as it is called, is raised along the river bank, to secure travellers on the road from the dangers of a dark night; but the economy added to this precaution, has taken care to guard the timber of which the rail is constructed, by a sheet ing of iron, nailed on with sharp-headed nails, which do more mischief to the ropes, I fear, than all the remaining friction of the banks.
It is improbable that so eminent an engineer as the gentleman at the head of this Board can have knowledge of this abuse: his mind must revolt at such a piece of wanton destruction of the hard-earned produce of well-bestowed labour; and he would, surely, for his reputation, advocate the cause of the suffering animals, so well meriting the protection of his rank and talents.
Along this reach, the barges lay at a great
distance from the towing path: shoals intervene between the bank and the vessels,
and the horses go a considerable distance in
the water; and with no small degree of danger.
I am informed, not very long since, eleven horses out of twelve were drowned here.
We here met a sixty ton barge, towed by seven horses, which afforded a fair opportunity of observation, and I am persuaded that if the gravel was ballasted away for about four hundred yards along the Middlesex shore, passing under the wall of Hampton Court Gardens, and making good the towing path with the material excavated, this difficulty would be fully relieved.
There is a small shoal here which ought
to be ballasted away, when hands are employed on the adjacent improvements.
This would bring the barges nearer to the towing path; and abreast of Lord Henry Fitzgerald's house there is another small shoal to be ballasted, and a fence rail, on the Middlesex bank, which would be the better for a friction roller, to relieve the wearing of the towing-rope.
At this place there is a water-main which
crosses over to the Middlesex shore, under
the water of the river, designed, as I am in
formed, to convey water to the Palace on
the Middlesex side, from the neighbourhood
of Coombe Hill, on the Surry side.
Bargemen have sometimes complained of injury to the bottoms of their vessels by striking against this pipe; and some persons have advised, it is said, that this pipe should be laid lower.
I am of opinion that the operation of the gates, which appear to be necessary below, may be easily calculated to overcome this obstruction, without any alteration in the pipes; and if it proves necesarsary to this end that the river above them should be commanded, both the adjacent and Raven's Aytes, favour the construction of the gauge gates which may be required.
But I apprehend that a set of gates below this pipe, extending from a strong stone wall on the Kingston side, would relieve the fall as far up as the foot of Ditton Reach.
I understand the obstructions here have
been matters of great and frequent deliberation between the counties of Middlesex,
Surry, the city of London, and the town of
Kingston, and that many and various opinions have been given.
It strikes me, that if we sever these four interests, and confine ourselves solely to the River Navigation, on our parts, we shall settle the business.
I beg leave to observe, that above the bridge, on the Middlesex shore, there is a shoal of about 100 yards, or more, and a strong ayte, which will admit of a cut and embankment down to the foot of the bridge.
I would propose, at this place, to render this cut a complete side navigation along the Middlesex shore, and to pass the cut and towing path under the buildings at the bridge end in Hampton Wick.
By this measure, a safe passage would be completed, from the lower to the upper sheet of water, without endangering the bridge or the barges in striking against each other.
The people of Kingston might, if they thought proper to do so, pursue a similar method, on their side, for the accommodation of the town; nor would it be a very difficult matter to dock or wharf the whole of their commerce.
Below the bridge, on the Middlesex side, I should recommend the continuation of the side-cut down into the good water below, and a small gate at the outfall of such cut.
I apprehend this would be an efficient remedy; and when it is considered that the property at the foot of the bridge (if purchased) might be greatly improved by the measure.
I am persuaded that it would, ultimately prove the cheapest, if not a pecuniary gain.
At the upper end of the ayte, abreast of
this pay gate, there is a willow fence, and
some fender piles, placed here lately, I am
told, by order from Mr. Truss.
They are already giving way, and the bank is breaking in on the Surry side of the river.
I incline to recommend a total change of this operation.
In my idea, it were best to construct a strong wear-work along the crown of the shoal, forming an oblique line from the upper end of Mr. Truss's fence, on the Surry bank, to the head of the ayte below: contemplating, however, the best means of easing the water way, during any land floods which may happen at neap tides, and thus turning the barge channel along the Middlesex side of the ayte.
The ayte should be raised to a sufficient embankment, and the Middlesex channel ought to be ballasted out, leaving a waste gate in the wear on the Surry side, as before stated herein.
The ballasting here will extend near a quarter of a mile, more or less; and care should be taken that no interest arising out of the aytes should so interfere as to occasion the channel to silt up again.
The Surry channel is here called the New Road; and at the lower end thereof, a second set of gates should be placed at the two aytes, nearly opposite to the lower end of General St.John's improvements.
In the Duke of Northumberland's grounds,
at this place, there is a high bank, on which
the towing-path runs in a very dangerous situation; and the tracks of the horses were
visible so near the brink thereof, that it is
rather to be wondered how they escaped
being tumbled from the precipice.
A secure rail should be constructed along this height; and I am convinced the Duke's estate would profit by it, as less ground would then be trodden by the towing horses.
At this part there have hitherto been some
contractions of the river, by means of jetties, &c.
At present there is a shoal above, and another below the ferry.
The depth, at low water, is said to be about 2 feet 6 inches: if gates to retain two feet more water here were placed across the channel, I think the chief difficulties would be overcome.
The water would then be good down to the next shoal.
Here it will be requisite to ballast out some few obstructions, which are formed by siltage.
At this place, near the head of Twickenham Ayte, there is a shoal near one hundred
yards in breadth, whereon there is only two
feet water at low times, and six feet at high
water, the flow being four feet.
I apprehend the principal remedy here will be by ballasting, as we are now in the tide-way.
But as gates can be made to act either way in the tide, at option, there can be no doubt of the practicability of bettering this place.
At the top of this Reach, a little below Twickenham Ferry, I understand there is fifty or sixty yards of shoal opposite Sir George Pocock's, which needs to be ballasted; but being so much pressed for time to return to Isleworth, that it was dark before I got there, I had not an opportunity of accurately investigating it.
Opposite the Duke of Northumberland's
Ayte, at this place, just below the ferry at
Isleworth, the channel runs very narrow,
and nearly in the shape of the letter S
through the shoal; this will require about
fifty or sixty yards of ballasting.
I am informed the barges are frequentiy stopped at this place; and, a little lower down, there is what is called a piece of city land, accumulating to the prejudice of the navigation.
It is said that the Duke of Northumberland is expected to contend for the right of this piece of land.
So far, however, as I can judge of the rights of conservancy, ( if they mean any thing definable ) they certainly go to establish an authority to remove the whole of this slip, for two hundred yards,out of the water-way of the ancient River Thames, which is yet clearly visible, notwithstanding this slovenly practice of creating islands by progressive encroachments.
This kind of operation would, I am convinced,
have a tendency to silence dissentions;
to give greater influx to the tide;
to repair the towing-path;
to manure the adjacent lands;
and, by opening the river, to render the royal retreat at Kew more beautiful and salubrious.
The low-water channel is, at present, only three feet, which is ten inches under the draft required.
At the lower end of a shoal, near this
place, the necessity of keeping the barges
off the point of new-made land, with long
towing-ropes, compels the horses to make
for the upper, or embanked, towing-path,
near the hedge.
By this means the bank is so cut away by the feet of the horses, that injury to the premises, and danger to the animals, call for a remedy for the evil.
Opposite this place, the current from the
River Brent has deposited mud enough to
commence the operation of making an ayte.
This accumulation is already green, and grassed over; and, so far as I can judge, it is nearly prepared for the planting of willows.
When it is considered, however, that this piece of acquisition contributes to deform the beauty of the bank, and must be much in the way of the landing-place of the Palace, I should hope that a timely removal of the deposit which exists, may relieve the navigation, as well as the offence of permitting this impediment to remain as a nuisance.
There is at this place a similar siltage to
the one last noticed; and, considering the
beauty of the place, and that it contains a
royal palace, I should conceive it a sufficient
cause to stimulate exertion to put this part
of the river in navigable condition at all
times of the tide.
It appears, at present, to want much of this good order: and, if I may form any conclusion on the tender labour of certain persons who we saw at work here, employed in ballasting with a sparrow net, it will be a long time before the channel is rendered perfect.
We saw here four barges waiting for the next tide: one of them was 128 tons, drawing three feet eight inches; and the barge men informed us that the river often ebbed down to two feet water, and the channel very narrow.
They also informed us, that at this time there were three feet six inches on the shoal, and would be about three feet at low water.
At the highest time (land floods meeting a strong spring tide ), the water is said to be two feet over the towing-path, next Kew Bridge, on the Surry side.
I therefore took the levels from the towing-path to the water's edge, and found that the rise of such a flood from the lowest extreme of the ebb (at two feet) would be about nine feet eight inches.
I also measured upon the bridge a distance equal to the space in the river along the bridge, on a line drawn from the towing path on the Surry side, to an island in front of Brentford; and finding the distance to be one hundred and ten yards, I am led to believe that a set of gates, across this space, about five feet pitch, and such a connection of the several aytes as would bring the Grand Junction Canal along the Brentford side, would be an improvement worth undertaking at this interesting spot; but I do not mean by this that the City ought to be saddled with the total expence.
I have the honor to be,
MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN,
Your obedient humble servant,
No. 7, Staples Inn Buildings, Holborn,
January 6, 1803.
ESTIMATE FOR SUCH A SET OF SIDE GATES
AS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SUFFICIENT
FOR RELIEVING THE PRESS OF THE FLOODS ROUND THE AYTE NEXT BELOW, AND ADJACENT TO, THE CITY
STONE, ABOVE STAINES, ON THE MIDDLESEX SHORE.
There should be a little embankment done at the entrance of the small stream below the City Stone; but as this must depend on the measure adopted, and I am not instructed on this head, I will say twenty pounds for securing this waste way; and consider the estimate as an approximate one, merely sufficient for comparison.
This being the second time I have examined this spot, and having the good fortune to hire a boat here, I thought it proper to measure this stream, which has a gentle current, passing through the following section; the water being called one foot lower than common good water.
6 66 " If we reduce this section to an equalised triangular shape, it will stand thus:
The contents will be the same whether the excavation is taken from the sides or the middle of the section.