LONG WITTENHAM WEIR STREAM
Left bank, bypassed by CLIFTON LOCK
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
The weir is a long way further up, the weir water coming round a considerable bend on the left, skirting the village of Long Wittenham.
The Long Wittenham History Society hold logs of camps held there 1891 - 1914.
They were for school boys over the summer and involved much cricket and boating.
A correspondent writes:
There was a meeting this week of our village History Society during which we examined the Logs of the Summer Camps that were held by the river in Long Wittenham from 1891 until 1914. They were held on the large water meadow which is an island between the lock cut and the weir stream where we are. It appears that access was obtained via the Plough Inn (which is next to us) and that provisions came from the village. There was a formal dining tent, library tent, plus sleeping tents: all very meticulously organised. The Camp was held between July and September each year and appears to have been for the benefit of public school boys. Each year has a big log book which is extremely impressive with beautifully written details of each day's activities which included, of course, boating, cricket and fishing. There are anecdotes and menus, plus poems etc. etc. Plenty of 'drinking' goes on! I believe there were about 35 boys staying for around 3 weeks at a time and some returned in later years for a further stay. The camp was run by 'FJS' - known as The General - an impressive man with a huge moustache. At the end of each log book are all the names and accounts relating to the year's activities. Finally some really excellent photographs. All the Logs are held here in Long Wittenham by the History Group - (we feel there is enough information for the basis of a thesis for someone needing a subject).
1933: John Galsworthy, Over the River:
...passing through Dorchester, came to the river by the bend and bluffs at Clifton.
Leaving the car, they procured a punt and after drifting a little,
moored it to the bank.
But in that hour and more on the river they hardly talked at all. It was as if he understood - which, as a fact, he did not - how, in that drowsing summer silence, on water half in sunlight, half in shade, she was coming closer to him than ever before. There was, indeed, to Dinny something really restful and reassuring in those long lazing minutes, when she need not talk, but just take summer in at every pore - its scent, and hum, and quiet movement, the careless and untroubled hovering of its green spirit, the vague sway of the bulrushes, and the clucking of the water, and always that distant calling of the wood pigeons from far trees.
1958: Robert Gibbings, Till I end my song -
When, about the middle of the nineteenth century, the Thames Conservancy dug a canal rather more than half a mile in length above Clifton Hampden, they cut off a loop of the Thames that was to become one of the pleasantest backwaters on the river. From where I stood I could see a wide crescentic pool whose low banks on the far side spread away into wide sunlit pastures, whose high banks shadowed with elms on my right sent their reflections deep into the water. Sixty and a few miles since much of the water sprang from the earth; another hundred to flow before it would mingle with the sea.
[ Robert Gibbings, who wrote Sweet Thames Run Softly completed the quotation from Edmund Spenser, with Till I end my Song which was the story of his life at Clifton Hampden. ]
... Along the shore of silver-streaming Thames;
Whose rutty bank, the which his river hems,
Was painted all with variable flowers,
And all the meads adorn'd with dainty gems
Fit to deck maidens' bowers,
And crown their paramours,
Against the bridal day, which is not long:
Sweet Thames run softly, till I end my song.
Also quoted by T S Eliot in his Fire Sermon -
The river's tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed.
Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers,
Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends
Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed.
And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors-
Departed, have left no addresses.
By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept...
Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,
Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.
Long Wittenham Slipway
Long Wittenham, LEFT bank, Paul Slack, The Lees, Long Wittenham. 01865 407828
The Plough, up weir stream, Long Wittenham
Pendon Museum, Model Railway & Country Scenes.
1958: Robert Gibbings, Till I end my song -
I took the footpath that led to the pools and their many weirs. There had been rain in the west and the water was galumphing through those sluices with a joy unbounded. Slowly and calmly it moved in the main stream above, so slowly that one might have swum in it with ease. But of a sudden as it came within the influence of the fall it wavered, and next moment in fierce abandon a trio of rapids had arched their backs and plunged through the gates. Then in an instant they were froth, white froth in a welter, prancing, curvetting, rushing ahead, curling back.
A Long Wittenham resident writes -
There are at least four terrapins around here - dinner plate size - not good news!
The terrapins are vicious scavengers. They could have arrived in the Thames because they were discarded by their owners
as they grew too big or aggressive for their aquaria. We often see them sunning themselves on logs.
They are said to eat ducklings and I saw one on the nest of a greater
crested grebe, devouring the eggs.
Rumour has it that they breed in the Thames but don't survive the cold water during the winter.
But they seem to be increasing so this may not be so.
I met another resident last week [11/2006] who says he saw a terrapin the size of a dustbin lid!
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said an offender found guilty
of dumping terrapins could be jailed for two years.
They are classified as a non-native species under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and cannot be let out into the wild.
The importation of terrapins into the UK for anything other than scientific purposes was banned in 1997.