1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall


Mean flow 1.4 cumecs; high flow exceeded 10% of the time 4 cumecs; low flow exceeded 95% of the time 0.07 cumecs
This section in The Stripling Thames by Fred Thacker

1910: Thames Valley Villages by Charles G Harper

[The width of the Thames at the Barrier is about the distance from Cricklade Bridge to Cricklade Slipway ]
Cricklade Slipway, Left bank, very light craft only.
Good concrete slipway in Cricklade gives access to a high current section which could hardly be used by boats with any more than a few inches draught.  Perhaps this is where the rowing boat is launched which is reputed to inspect this section annually?

1888: from " The Thames: Oxford to its Source" by Paul Blake -

Then came the old plank bridge, prettily situated between wooded banks, then Rose Cottage, then Cricklade.
"Well!" exclaimed Figgis, as they landed at Rose Cottage,
"that's over at last. I never did such a piece of river in my life."
"What a pace we went, too!" said Budd - "a mile an hour at least. I should like to put the winning eight at Henley on that stretch with the tallest rushes."

1909: Fred Thacker in The Stripling Thames -

Two or three meadows above Eisey Bridge the Dance Brook enters upon the southern bank, little deserving its title here, whatever be the case higher up its course. It gives its name to the Dance Common just outside Cricklade.
Now a farm blocks the way, but if you persevere round you will arrive at a rustic bridge called Hatchett's, on the outskirts of Cricklade, where baptisms have been performed within living memory.
Rose Cottage adjoins it, well known to men who navigate through to Cricklade;
above which Taunt marks an old weir site; perhaps the ruinous old house on the Left bank was the weirkeeper's; it stands at the head of the pool.
And then the walk is barred by "nimble footed Churn"; and I went to my night's rest back across Hatchett's Bridge and into Cricklade.

Hatchett's Bridge, Cricklade. 1910

Fred Thacker continued -

Tower and turret crown your height,
Thames plays babbling at your feet,
Ghosts of Druids glide by night
Up and down your stony street.

Light men laugh and hurry past,
Sentry of the Roman Way;
Shall you live to laugh the last,
Wise old Cricklade? you, or they?

CRICKLADE, as I have said, is the farthest limit of the voyage of the Thames, even if you manage to tug and carry and swear through so far. And who has measured the ultimate antiquity of this little town, the British Cerriglad, the stony country or ford, one of the chiefest jewels of the Stripling Thames? What British wanderers first settled here to plant their orchards and journey southward at the sacred times of Belteine to Avebury or Stonehenge, having first extinguished their hearth fires under awful penalties till the Druid high priest should allow their rekindling from his altar flames? "Good Lord, how spaciously might a learned pen walk in this argument! " The Druids burnt their sacred books when their colleges and sky roofed temples were desecrated by the new religion from the East, and we cannot answer. But within historical times we believe that St. Augustine looked upon its ancient roofs, that the great Alfred forded here about 878 during his wars with Guthrum; and that the Danes under Cnut sacked the town and cruelly harried the land around in 1016. "This year came King Cnut with a marine force of one hundred and sixty ships, and ealdorman Edric with him over the Thames at Cricklade," and so up into Warwickshire, burning and harrying "as their way is. " Does the Chronicle mean, or does it not, that they sailed up the River? Look at the banks and the channel, respectively deep and wide enough even now; and remember that they sailed up the Lea, to their lasting regret; and then consider the point. The town was unsuccessfully besieged later, in 1147, by Henry of Anjou, afterwards Henry II, in the course of some feeble attack of his upon the sovereignty of Stephen. In his time also did William de Dovre attack the town "villum," says the Gesta Stephani,"in loco delicioso"; and having reduced the country far and wide on both sides of the Thames, began most ferociously to rage against the king.

Rose Cottage at Henley Rowing Museum

Cricklade Footbridge

This may be more than a footbridge - but I don't know if its public -

Cricklade Footbridge
Cricklade Footbridge.

River is no more than a maximum of two feet deep with stones which scraped the punt.

Thames Cricklade

The river goes round behind the houses and nothing of Cricklade actually faces the river. Photo taken going downstream.

Map: River Churn

The River Churn joins from the north, Right bank -

River Churn
The River Churn.

The River Churn was contributing significantly to the stream about 100 yards below the High Street Bridge.
The River Churn is certainly a major source of the River Thames since its source is at Seven Springs.

West Mill Weir Site, Cricklade

West Mill Cricklade is in the Domesday Book.
1828: Westall - the River was then navigable to this point for barges of six or seven tons.
1920: Fred Thacker -

West Mill was bought up and stopped some years ago by the Thames Conservancy to prevent its interference with the level of the River.

Cricklade Town Bridge; Cricklade Bridge in "The Stripling Thames" by Fred Thacker

The present bridge is a level crossing of a single arch at the north end of the town, built in 1852, forty four miles from Folly Bridge. But it does not carry the Irmin Way across the Thames; the Way at some old time got obliterated at the bend north of the bridge, and a road was deflected from it due south through the town. You leave the direct southeast line of the old trail at this bend, and only pick it up again by taking the turn opposite the hospitable Vale Hotel, and striking it eastwards of the town at Calcutt. The bridge marks the beginning of the jurisdiction of the Thames Conservancy, which extends to Teddington weir.

The limit of navigation as far as I am concerned in a punt. Most canoists would probably agree - though there may be sections above this where a canoe could be used at certain times of the year.
I failed to stop close to the bridge there being no way I could stay against the current.  I had to drift backwards - photographing the bridge to prove I had made it, and then stop just above the River Churn to celebrate my arrival -

Cricklade Town Bridge
Cricklade Town Bridge.

1852: Cricklade Town Bridge built - relatively recently. The original Cricklade crossing was probably more or less near the new A419 Bridge.
Cricklade used the river long before the canal era and there is still a right of navigation to Town Bridge.  There were once 4 flash locks between Lechlade and Cricklade and the boats using the river were able to carry about 10 tons of goods. The opening of the T&S Canal in 1789 and then the North Wilts Canal in 1819 provided a more reliable transport system and the river soon went out of use.
There have been sporadic calls for the river to be restored to navigation and in 1984, the IWA organised a boat to carry a "Token Ton" of goods up the Thames to Cricklade to maintain the tradition -

IWA Token ton boat 1

However look closely at that boat and you will see that though it has been got up to look a little like a narrow boat, in fact it is a very much lighter boat.  And its method of propulsion leaves a little to be desired.  Of course this may well have been more or less the sort of boat that reached Cricklade in the pre canal times.

IWA Token ton boat 2

1794:  Cricklade, Boydell's History of the Thames -

Cricklade Boydell 1794
1794:  Cricklade, Boydell's History of the Thames.

Aerial View of Cricklade
Aerial View of Cricklade.

1016: The Anglo Saxon Chronicle -

A.D. 1016.  This year came King Knute with a marine force of one hundred and sixty ships, and Alderman Edric with him, over the Thames into Mercia at Cricklade; whence they proceeded to Warwickshire, during the middle of the winter, and plundered therein, and burned, and slew all they met.

Note that it has been suggested that the "marine force of 160 ships" does not imply that he sailed up the Thames with 160 ships but rather that he brought the crews here - and he certainly did not sail from here into Warwickshire!

1821:  William Cobbett in Rural Rides -

I got to a farmhouse in the neighbourhood of Cricklade, to breakfast, at which house I was very near to the source of the river Isis, which is, they say, the first branch of the Thames.
They call it the "Old Thames", and I rode through it here, it not being above four or five yards wide, and not deeper than the knees of my horse.
I passed through that villainous hole Cricklade about two hours ago, and certainly a more rascally looking place I never set my eyes on. ...
The labourers seem miserably poor.
Their dwellings are little better than pig-beds and their looks indicate that their food is not nearly equal to that of a pig.

The most intact example of a late Saxon new town in Britain.
Sadly the original Saxon ramparts, laid out in a square around the town, are no longer visible.
The original layout of the town - with back streets running parallel with the High Street is still very much evident, however.
Aerial photographs of the town prior to the building of housing in the 1960s show the grid layout of streets to very full effect.
It is estimated that the houses which line the streets of Cricklade have been rebuilt four to six times since Saxon times.
What is interesting is that many still conform to the original dimensions of 33 feet for frontages.

Cricklade Churches