Updates and finds

Mills on 4 maps

20th March 2019

Visited Chester Record Office to view RAF 1935 aerial photographs. Eventually, as they were not marked by location, found the jewel I had hoped for….the mill. It was exactly as shown at A below. A high resolution image will be coming soon. Hopefully, will be able to see the building(s) clearly.

On the 18th visited the former owners of Hockenhull Hall, the Arnolds. Hugo, recalled another mill, at Cotton, just two fields north of the bridges! He reiterated he saw remains of a mill, so one  must assume it was built of stone. Is this another long search in the making?

 

 

1 March 2019  Hockenhull Mill and House 

Bryant 1831

A section off 1881 OS showing a section of Platts Lane just east of the bridges.( A )might be the miller’s house and garden with the mill (clearly shown on Bryant’s map. Both are vital pieces of map evidence confirming the existence of this unknown mill.

Revision Jan 2020: the mill is more probably at A with or without the miller’s house.  Possibly a two storey building with a slate or thatch roof. Today, tall willows fill the area, some have fallen but they do offer some idea of dating the plot. Willows are the greatest height at some 220-250 years old, if starved of water the fall suggesting this small patch was once become a marshy pool at some years before the trees fell. Given 20 years or so under dry conditions and aged 220 years these trees date the patch to about the mid/late 18th century. When the mill was there, the willows hadn’t appeared.

A closer look at Bryant’s reveals more interesting features. Another mill and leat and a possible building to the west which maybe a ‘small public’ mentioned by Dr. Morton in 1900 being an informal inn  on the Cotton side and two others, the Sheaf, Stapleford and one close to Ford Farm, Foulk Stapleford. On p171 ‘other mills at Peel, Hockenhull and Stapleford.  (Source: Frank Latham, Tarvin: A History, 1985?

Feb 2020

CHER records archaeological finds,  significant buildings, etc believe my mill site shown above is not correct. Rather they point to a site just north of the bridges with the mill pool between the Hockenhull bridge and the middle bridge. Fair enough but that does not rule out another phase of mill building at the site I proposed. Besides, a leet running into a site above the floodplain and returning to the river has to seriously considered.

 

25th Feb 2019

Amount of sandstone to build causeway walls

Cross-section = 2x4x0.25×0.3 = 0.6sq.m  Total volume= 246×0.3048 x 0.6 = 45cu.m

Density of sandstone = 2325 kg/cu.m

Total weight of sandstone walling= 2325×45/1000= 105 m.t. (near imperial ton). If there not 4 but 5 courses then 130m.t

Each block will weigh 140kg (307 lbs or 2.75cwt) Courtesy of Mark Wyatt.

INFILLING the walls

Without knowing the material used such rock,earth, clay, sand or gravel the estimate would range from, assuming 1/3 of rock, sand and clay would give about 150 tonnes. Total for whole causeway = 250-300 mt.

………………………………………………………………………

Snippets re wealth and cost  SOURCE: James Croston, County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1887

Sir William Stanley executed in 1495 was worth £40,000 equiv to over £16 million pounds!  A further £3000 from rents , that’s  £1.2 million. All went to the treasury.   Sir Thomas Stanley. £4,000 went on housekeeping = 1.6 million.

1642  ‘Sir John Girlington, acting head of the House of Stanley raised 5,000 auxiliaries  armed and ammunition at his own expense and £40,000  (£ 4 million)  at the service or the King.

In the 13th century Beaumaris Castle cost £14,500 and Rhuddlan £9,000. Edward I’s campaign of castle building in the late 13th/ early 14th cost in excess of £100,000 close to £40 million.

Caernarfon Castle cost £22,000 and took 5 years to build

BLACK PRINCE’S grant of 20 s in 1353 =£1 was £542 in today’s money, so 1 s was £27 …..Building a simple 7ft wide  7ft span bridge would cost about £6 (120s), a quality bridge double that size  about £23

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...Bridges: David Featherstone-Harrison :  The bridges of medieval England; Transport and Society 1400-1800, Oxford, 2004 …………………..

 

16/02/19  Hockenhull Platts Causeway

LENGTH OF CAUSEWAY : 75 METRES(246ft)  WIDTH: 2.1m /7feet

Total blocks along  length = 30.5 N side and 29/30 S side

Height:   4/5 blocks with 4th below soil level

Size of blocks: 80-90cms  with 4 small block on north elevation each 28-30cms

 

 

Celt and Roman carts  16th Jan 2019

(Source: Janet Backhouse, Medieval Rural Life in the Luttrell Psalter, Univ. of Toronto ,2000)

Apparently, the psalter shows episodes of daily life in the 14th century and was produced in second quarter of C14th. It was produced on 309 velum  leaves.

The cart was had a frame of oak or ash with a bed length of 6’10” with an overall length of 12′. Measuring 5’9″ in height and 5′ in width to the centre of the wheels. The cart was built using these figures.

An excavation near Eddisbury Hill fort, just off Stoney Lane in 1885 by Watkins discovered rutted tracks of Roman carts. The axle width was 4’9″ and was similar to Celtic  excavations elsewhere, principally at Pocklington, Yorks, where a chariot had an axle with of 5’1″. (Cited im Bowerman, Mysterious Walks in Cheshire and Wirral, p.71)

Why these measures are important is the packhorse bridges at Hockenhull Platts are all, within a few inches (wider), 4’9″. Could the widths of a track, causeway or bridge of Celt or Roman origin determined what followed?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

30th Jan 2019 Diverting the Gowy

It has been assumed  Italian POWs  diverted the Gowy to straighten the Hockenhull section either side of the middle bridge as part of a flood prevention programme. Also, the bridge was underpinned to allow the river to flow through more easily. However, I believe, though underpinning was implicit but for another reason. ‘Scouring’ by a river can cause more damage to a bridge than flooding or flow. Branches and other debris are more damaging. The work on the bridge was to lower the river bed rather to underpin it. Today, a clear artificial break is visible on the north side of the bridge. Also, new sandstone in the arch suggests it was disturbed during the work and was replaced hence the contrast in stone colour.

To complete the work meant draining the section of the river by diverting it, I believe, under the west bridge. Where the diversion occurred is debatable but I include here one favoured

 

*********************************************************************

HOCKENHULL MILL SJ 47681 65726

Finally, the location of the mill is discovered. The critical source was Bryant’s Map 1831. Of the most respected old maps, his showed a mill building ( circled red) with a leat (far right in green circle)

Bryants Map 1831Very enlarged

15th October.

Had another look at the location of the mill using tithe maps and associated OS maps. More likely the leat flows under Hockenhull bridge in 1831. Bryant’s map shows a drain and the leat running parallel to each other. The Cheshire Historic Environment Record cites a drain beneath the bridge, however, fieldwork (involving ditch crawling) finds the drain pipe to the right of the bridge, perhaps 3-4 metres.

It could mean the river flowed there in the 14th century and whatever happened the leat replaced it. Maybe, the river silted up by the 17th century or there was some diversion

 

 

 

Packhorse Bridges : a confusion of opinions

Did wheeled traffic cross the Packhorse bridges at Hockenhull?  It divides opinion both as to when and why?  Agreement is at least settled on the 18th century. Disagreement reigns as to the whether turnpiking of  Platts Lane and the bridges  in the 18th century to allow wheeled- vehicles across the bridges and the levying of charges, actually happened.

However, the bridges were constructed between 1621 and 1665.  No bridge existed in 1621 and three bridges are shown on Ogilby’s map of 1665.

On reflection is an elementary question has been overlooked:  How did the heavy sandstone blocks and other materials reach the Platts, and where was the stone quarried ? Two options present themselves: (1) carried on the R. Gowy and (2) using carts and waggons possibly drawn by oxen.

Where the ashlar red sandstone was quarried has an important bearing on both options. The preference would be  either Waverton or Christleton quarries.

Waverton quarry had no direct, easy road access to the Platts at the Gowy.  Christleton was more immediate, had a larger quarry and sandpits  (for mixing cement) were available on route. Large waggons  could easily navigate the ancient saltway/packhorse as it  passed through Christletonto R Gowy.  Access via Plough Lane offered a wider, well-maintained road with a smithy and watering places. Indeed, it has been  advanced  that a Roman road followed  part of Plough Lane, if not all of it.  Below the turn to Cotton Hall and the A51, it is over 12m  (40ft) wide , reckoned as a feature of a Roman road. This is not the place to consider features of Roman roads. Notwithstanding, a wide lane lead to the river and a possible causeway  in the 17th century. Whether an extant cause was there is another matter.

Any suggestion of access from the Tarvin side would have meant coming in from Platts Lane, entering the hollow way section leading to the bridges  to face a mire of deep mud and running water.  Had heavily laden waggons moved along Platts Lane it would  be reflected in a much wider and more substantial passage to the Gowy.

*****************************************************************************************

9th August:     In replying to an email, a very challenging idea came to mind. Challenging  contrary to what is accepted as fact, namely the marshland at Hockenhull Platts was always to the west of the present course of the Gowy.  Fieldwork and aerial photographs show almost no features of a the historic river course to the west,  along the banks north or south of the Gowy. Instead, such features as abandoned meanders, ox-bow lakes, drainage channels and pools, all appear to the east.

I now consider the bridge on the Tarvin side was the first to be built.  Of the three bridges it is a true packhorse bridge. Its alignment does not match the other two. This might suggest it was built to replace an earlier bridge, possibly a 14th century one.  The Black Prince’s Register in 1353 records a grant of 20 shillings to repair  ‘the bridge at Hokenhull’, though it does not specify  wood or stone.  Clearly, the bridge was built much earlier  where a ford would have been. Was it a Norman masonry bridge, and if so,  why would it need repair relatively soon after construction? Or,  an Anglo-Saxon timber bridge? No Roman bridges survived  by Domesday.

The repair of the bridge, whether of timber or stone in the 14th century suggests  it was fundamentally flawed. Unlike the two other bridges, the foundations ( of the Tarvin bridge) may not have rested on bedrock,  hence the difference in alignment. Without a firm foundation, the weight of water against it, scouring of the river bed and the stresses of traffic over it, would combine to undermine the bridge.  It would seem buttresses were included in its construction rather than added later. This would suggest a previous bridge was there and the grant to repair was for a likely wooden bridge. A 15th century record of a flour mill nearby may well indicate a bridge was needed to service the mill rather than solely for the use of pack horses and other users. Only in the 17th century were purpose- built bridges constructed. The question then arises as to whether this bridge was already there and two others added?

Ogliby’s 1675 map shows ‘three stone bridges’ but there is reason to suppose one was already there. Was it a sandstone bridge built earlier in the 17th century as there was no bridge there in 1621? Had the wooden bridge failed completely prior to this date and a new stone one followed?

One thing postulated here  is certainly, speculative but reasonably plausible, based on the geography of the Platts. The  marshes of the Gowy lay to the east and the river flowed through the eastern, Tarvin bridge. It may well have been wider and more powerful  enough to destabiliise  the sandstone bridge built there in the 17th century.

 

 

 

 

Packhorse stopover, Cotton Edmunds:  19th July 2018

Connecting a few bits of information together promised and delivered a find of real value. Platts Lane, at the top of the map, is known as a pack horse/drovers road.

A reference  noted , in Latham, by Dr.T.W.E. Morton writing in 1900: ‘There were three fairly good inns at the Sheaf, Stapleford, a small public near the Hockenhull Platts, on the Cotton side of the river, and one close to Ford Farm in Foulk Stapleford.

Started the linkage:  pack horse route, an inn ( circled red) and the bridges almost clinched it.  Add Cotton Farm ( arrowed) and the layout of the fields (narrow fields or slangs, stances, etc)  decided this to be as good a stopover for horses and livestock as any.

No inns or public houses recorded on tithe of either Stapleford  or Cotton, nor Hockenhull. Only possible ‘drinking places’ might have been a nearby cottage or, in Staplefords  case, a building  part of the smithy.

23rd July:  Received a list of alehouses for Christleton. There were nine, of which four are gone. ‘The Plume of Feathers’, ‘The Bottom of the Wood’ ‘The Volunteer’ and ‘The Four Ales’.

David Cummings kindly sent details of the The Bottom of the Wood

The pub is on the left. It was converted to a house and stood near the present High School. Interestingly, a SMITHY can be seen to the far right.

The question is where were the other three; there may have been others of a much earlier date.

____________________________________________________________

(1) Discovered an unknown windmill at Foulk Stapleford. GR 485625 Tithe map  1839, 160/Z EDT Plot 198. Bott mentions 2 mills in Ches.Hist., Autumn 1884 No.14 Pt IV. Both froze up during the winter of 1607.

Bott’s reference to Hockenhull Mill puts it in the marsh below Millfield and  close to the ‘Roman bridges.’

Took the windmill find to the Cheshire Historic Environment Record. It was basically confirmed and would be added to the database.  Also, looked at some possible sites using aerial photos of 1970’s  but not conducive. Sent the same evidence to the Mills Archive in Reading. Still awaiting expert opinion.

Have to check aerial photos stereoscopically at Chester Record Office.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

(2) Beginning to assemble possible packhorse and/or drovers routes. The area around Aldford is promising. Lower Lane, just a few hundred metres south of the Grosvenor Arms leads long and wide, lined with old oaks and follows a straight path to Marsh Lane and after a short turn, heads to the Barton Road  connecting  Farndon with Broxton. It seems to continue southwards towards Shocklach and ends,  as Bishop Bennet’s Way does, in Whitchurch.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Surprised to find  Lower Lane is one of a number of Roman roads in the area. Interestingly, the Romans used a ford to cross the R.Dee just downstream of the Iron Bridge. Now, the possibility of pack horses and drover’s cattle  and sheep may have crossed here as well as the medieval bridge at Farndon.; it too has passing bays rather like at Hockenhull.

Huge numbers of livestock came out of Wales to markets in Cheshire and beyond. There would have travelled by various routes, mostly established centuries before so finding them is a real challenge.

Field-names are invaluable, as our hollow ways, inns with stabling and even smithies. ‘Halfpenny ‘  field or croft means it would have been an overnight stopover for livestock. Again, another source to check.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(3) Yesterday (July 6th 2018) received two Cheshire Life articles, Via Devana 1949, the other, Forgotten Ways, 1958, both by Frank Marriott. The later pictures ‘one of Cheshire’s green roads…as a wide highway’ between Aldford and the Barton  road (A534).

The Via Devana article mentions another green road near Waverton (not far from the drover’s road I located at Hockenhull) as the ‘first glimpse of a fragment of the lost Roman road.’ It goes on ‘On the other side of Waverton lane, again heading for the church, the field shows traces of being disturbed by the remains of this vanished Roman road.’

17th July:  The Green Road, near Waverton

Spent an enjoyable, if hot afternoon,  seeking this route to Saighton. Parked near the church and happily spotted a rough path opposite. It looked the part. Wide, tree-lined and straight, at least to the railway bridge and a short way beyond.

Crossing the busy A41 to a wide gate and what appeared a straight , wide path heading away. After a few sweeping bends enthusiasm waned. A short shift right found me on a narrow, firm track, with hedged and and with small oaks leading to a stile gate. Was this the Millfield Lane I remembered from the Tithe Map? It was, for soon to stand on Saighton Lane was a bonus. Sadly, it was not the Green Road. Still, discovered another tckra

On returning to the church met David Andrews tidying the gravestones. A good chat and lots of interesting information going both ways. Drovers apparently had a bank where i.o.u saved the dangers of being robbed on their travels. The bank in Montgomery or mid-Wales, at least was reckoned to be the first in the Britain, or maybe England and Wales. A friendly chap looking to meet up sometime

 

This could be the link to the Aldford route (above). Also, noted a smithy was next to the White Horse pub in Churton. Interesting. Wonder if the Grosvenor Arms, in Aldford has stabling.  The Romans used a ford across the Dee, above the Telford ‘Iron Bridge’ just above Aldford. It was on a Roman road, perhaps, the Via Devana

3 August 2018

Returned to Waverton. A walk along a path from the church towards Greenlooms and Guy Lane. Was told of possible Roman kerb stones along the track.  Found them a little way before the canal bridge. Its parapet were topped with old sandstone blocks. After bridge a style and then open field bordered by a wood. A brook next and a remains of a bridge, now derelict. This was Guy Lane Brook now passing through a concrete tunnel. However, remnants of old bridge seen in large blocks of sandstone.

Why use kerbstones on a local path or was it part of further section heading west from the church; previously walked.? And, why such large sandstone blocks at the bridge? Was this a Roman, then Saxon and  used by packhorses? A Saxon church existed prior to the present one. The feel of the path, at some 40ft wide, suggests all possibilities

 

5th August: Waverton. Path from St.Peter’s Church over the Shropshire Union Canal to Martin’s Lane to Stapleford Bridge

This is the second part of a walk. The first, took me from Saighton to the church. The walk opens with a short, wide field track then swings left to an largely overgrown narrow path with dense verges bound by trees, some  mature oaks, The verges gradually increase in width to some 10-15m . At about halfway to the canal bridge and remain so before narrowing before losing the hedge line to an large pasture. Before the canal bridge some 24 sandstone  blocks  are visible on the right edge of the path. Just breaking the soil surface, forming an unbroken chain.  Most are of about  a metre long and  25  cms wide. Whether they are actual blocks is not known.  After the canal bridge and two fields finds Guylane Brook. The crossing, once a small bridge is now gravel and stone debris with a concrete tunnel and large ,sandstone blocks either side and all below the ground surface. These are dressed blocks suggesting a medieval bridge once stood here. To the right is a  derelict plank bridge On the other side of the crossing there is a shallow pool in contrast to the narrowness of the brook on the other side. A good deal of stone, many rather like setts litter the margins.

7th August: Returned to find the second crossing of the brook to establish whether it is built of sandstone. Unlike the bridge above, this was so covered in vegetation as to be impossible to see any part of it. Also, it had no path to or from it. So, decided on measuring the path.  At very start, Church Farm Cottage, 8m then at the turn, 7m to narrow to 5m before on the straight section , mostly 7m on the left and after the canal bridge still wider on the left to progressively narrow to about 3m on both sides.

Found evidence of the Old Bone Works just over the canal on the right though very close to the path. Scattering of bricks and a few lines of bricks. Also, noted a decent sized pond  on the right, beyond the brook.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

***** reference emerged from the paper mountain:  Frank Latham, Tarvin: The History of a Cheshire Village, p.71:

‘Other mills were recorded at Peel, Hockenhull and Stapleford.

Of popular interest noted , in Latham, by Dr.T.W.E. Morton writing in 1900: ‘Three were three fairly good inns at the Sheaf, Stapleford, a small public near the Hockenhull Platts, on the Cotton side of the river, and one close to Ford Farm in Foulk Stapleford.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

10th July:  Yesterday, explored a Hollow Way in Kelsall. It is recorded on the CHER website as possibly part of the route of the Roman Watling Street to Chester and Manchester, or a packhorse/drovers trackway. Expected a deep, steep sided valley, it was, but fenced off with barbed wire.  Did not have time to explore further but will return to battle through the undergrowth!

SALTER’S BROOK: SJ 523676( below Flat Lane) to 505671 (Shay Lane) and SALTER’S BRIDGE SJ 49897 67907 crossing the main A51 near Tarvin Sands, It flows from Barrow Brook to the north to the outskirts of Kelsall.

 

FROG MILL, Kelsall: no information from parish council though Tithe Field by that name.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

10th: Found a WINDMILL at Tarporley. It would have been on the Portal Golf Course. Shown on the c1875 OS map SJ 559 631. It is not recorded in the field-names, nor on any mills site. So, it’s a discovery!!

Awaiting confirmation that the above windmill is not nearby Luddington mill overlooking Utkinton watermill, the first mill studied in early 2017. Better still, a new contact has photos of it!!!

A field in Eaton Windmill Staypole…on Tithe map (280) appears to be a windmill after all. Not before has any expert or other source confirmed the word Staypole. I had suggested months ago it was a post used by the miller to secure the  cap in the prevailing wind direction.

Maurice Hunt, Tarporley has evidence to support the meaning of Staypole. (Staypol)

WATERMILL?   On the Utkinton tithe map, Plot 313 Mill and Orchard marked. A real surprise as only Utkinton Mill is known about, so why the former mill? It shows no building or observable watercourse.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

PACKHORSES & DROVERS : It is generally accepted a relationship existed between inns as places of rest and sustenance for both men and animals. Noticed, again on the OS 1875 maps for both Aldford (The Grosvenor Arms) and Churton (The White Horse) both had, a smithy very close by, especially the Grosvenor,  seemingly on its own grounds.

‘Another branch of this road (Roman ) must have passed through Farndon, across the ford in the river just above the bridge to Holt. There is an existing bridleway from Aldford to the east of Churton to Rowley Hill and on to Caldecott and Shocklach. This has always been referred to by older inhabitants as ‘the Roman Road’…it is certainly an ancient highway and in parts there is evidence of a cobbled surface.’ (F.rank Latham, Farndon: The History of a Village, 1981)

1 Nov.2018

 

General note: ‘Survey of all the principal roads made by John Ogilby and William Morgan about 1670, under orders from Charles I, published in the form of a road atlas at 1 inch to the mile.

 

Generally, where a ford existed so a bridge followed.  On Dee, fords at   Eccleston?, Aldford,  Farndon, Shocklach. (In Pearce & Morrison, Farndon: Church Village Records Through The Centuries (1934) ‘burial urns of the Bronze Age guarded fords at Aldford and Shocklach.’

Contacted Bill Cresswell, in Tarvin regarding mills on the R.Gowy as he has made a study of them. Hopefully, he knows a mill was at Hockenhull.

16th Pubs and Smithies  Tithe Apportionments

Searched through 615 refs to a smithy and 388 refs to public houses.

140 smithies and 388 pubs. Need to somehow map all those relevant to west Cheshire. Tried inputting inns but no results.

16th July :Drover’s website: the key associated is where a smithy is associated with a pub.

 Smithies are an important feature of drovers’ ways…

…unfortunately, however, they cannot be counted as evidence on their own: they have to be paired with a known drovers’ inn or stance because they were mostly used to shoe horses & oxen for the plough as well as for sundry purposes like the hunt, the local carrier etc.

So, searched again:

Audlem Audlem 898 Mary Tew George Brereton Public House, Smithy And Garden
Barrow Barrow 560 Henry Hugh Cholmondeley Jonas Nield Public House Smithy & Garden
Hankelow Audlem 112 George Simpson George Simpson Public House & Yard with a Blacksmith’s Shop
Hatton Runcorn 133 Charles Taylor Charles Taylor Public house called the “Red Lion” cowhouse smithy yard and garden

 

Haughton Bunbury 296 William Bishton Garnett Wm Pinnington Public House Smiths Shop Yard and Garden
Heswall Heswall 455 John Baskervyle Glegg Edward Crabb Public House Shop Smithy and Garden
Tarporley Tarporley 206 Dean and Chapter of Chester Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary in Chester Mary Berrington
Elizabeth Rogerson
Richard Williams
Public House, Shop, Smithy, Yard and Garden

The search produced a smithy on the crossroads of two tracks passing close to a Lea Hall, about half-way on the Aldford route to Hockenhull(?)

Two more, taking it to 9

Newbold Astbury Astbury 663 Sir Philip De Malpas Grey Egerton Mary Hill public House smithy and Garden
Sandbach Sandbach 479 Thomas Leadbeater
William Wharton
George Griffiths Smithy and Inn

 

11th  Packhorse bridges…

  • Less than 6ft wide and no parapets but kerbstones
  • Always sited by fords unless river in spate so bridge
  • Parapets added for wheeled traffic
  • Salt: Nantwich to Carlisle
  • based on talk 21 April 2017 Maggie Dickinson

contact: Lancs Archi Society: subs@archaeology.co.uk

16th confirmation of point 3. The bridges are clearly altered.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

separate note, not to above: SUMPTER used to describe packhorses more so up to 1st WW, then generally as PACKHORSE.

Size,girth and weight of a Galloway or Dales pony to check whether they could cross the Hockenhull bridges with parapets

Height 10-14 hands ( H=4 inches) 122 cms( 4 feet) to 142 cm(4.5 feet)

Girth: 170 cm (68 in/diameter 22inches

So, a packhorse 22 wide with panniers about equal to its width =44 inches(3.6 feet or  110 cms). This would mean the panniers touching the parapets.; at Hockenhull about 2’ft high so leaving about 1.3′ for the drop of the panniers.

Reply from LAS: info passed on to editorial staff

 SIZING THE THREE BRIDGES

20th July:  Returned to the Platts to re-measure key elements of the bridges.

Height of Parapets   (North & South Elevations in metric/imperial units

End                  Middle               End

West Bridge:  North:    22 (S20)    N 25 (S28)     N20 (S22)   COTTON SIDE

Middle Bridge:            N16  (S24)     N27 (S:22)       N32 (S28)

East bridge:                  N27 (S24)     N27 (S:25)       N30 (S24)   TARVIN SIDE

WEST BRIDGE  (Cotton Edmunds side)

Width between parapets: 1.5 m ( 4.9 ft )  Without parapets: 1.9m ( 6.9ft  )

Width of central cobbles: 0.7m ( 2.3ft  )   Width of each sett track: 0.3 x2

( 1ftx2 )

MIDDLE BRIDGE

Width between parapets: 1.5m ( 4.9ft  )   Without parapets:   2.1m ( 6.9ft )

Width of central cobbles: O.9m(  2.9ft ) Width of setts track:  0.3m( 1ft  )

EAST BRIDGE 

Width between parapets: 1.53m (  5.1ft)  Without parapets: 1.97m(  6.5ft)

Width of central cobbles: O.9m(  2.9ft ) Width of setts track:  O.3m(  1ft )

CAUSEWAY

Width including kerbstones: average of three measures: 2.22m ( 7ft 3ins )

Height above soil surface: approx 0.9m ( 2.9ft  )   Blocks 81cm wide, 23 deep  30cm thick

Setts, Cobbles and Carts

Setts only loosened because underlaying base material broke up due to heavy traffic. Freeze/thaw action.

Cobbles used from 15th century.

From a variety of fragmentary references a medieval cart would be 1.5m wide and 1.75m long, with a wheel diameter of 1.5m with possible 12 spokes.

Average Roman cart: 1.8m. Roman road average width 22 pedes/6.51m so

1pede is 30cms. Usually in width range 15 to 20pedes(?)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

12th:  News from the Grosvenor Arms: Formerly The Talbot

There are stables and tack behind the pub untouched from years back plus accommodation for ‘stable’ lads. Possibly this was for the packhorse and/or drover men.

Grosvenor Arms: owner Marquis of Westminster occupied: Martha Carter (Plot 148 Tithe)

Other inn: M.of W./ Thomas Parker (Plot  149 Tithe)

Smithy: MofW:  Samuel Hasting Plot: 147)

Interestingly, two large watering places both owned by Margaret Parsonage at 117 (House,building, Yard Hack and 167 Watering Place.

Churton: The Red Lion Inn. A timber framed thatched building of possibly of the early mid 19th century, ceased trading in 1928; its guarantor in 1927 was  a descendent of the famous cartographer John Speed, a weaver by the same name.

It was opposite the end of Pump Lane, shown as Plot 85 Tithe Map of 1840, owned by John Hassall and run by William Lessome(Letson.

There was a smithy closeby on Pump Lane  itself leading to Marsh Lane, Edgerley Lane to the Barton-Farndon road and then continued through Stretton, Malpas and onwards to Wroxeter.

This another possible stop-over for packhorses/drovers.

14th July: in the recent past I worked out the size of a Medieval cart to see if it would pass across the bridges. It did, with a 1.3 m axle. Today, I found a useful reference to Roman roads, as there is debate as to whether the drovers road leading to the Platts, is a of Roman origin. The average RR was 22 pedes or 6.51m; that’s pede=30 cms. Ranging from 15-20 pedes (according to Gillian Hutton, PhD thesis). Allied this to average Roman cart of 6 pedes or 1.8m, 180cm. ‘A minimum of 12 pedes was therefore required for two carts to pass each other, thus 3.6m minimum.

17th July: The Green Road

CHESHIRE WINDMILLS  sent my list of windmills to Mills Archive and also those of Wirral (courtesy of Rowan Patel).  His book, The Windmills and Watermills of Wirral, Countryvise Ltd , 2016, is a brilliant read.

The task of providing list of Cheshire mills and their millers  (for the Mills Archive) over some half-century will have to wait; there are 665 millers.

HOCKENHULL:  sent part 2 of The Hollow Way on Platts Lane to Tarvin Online. Part one managed 320 hits.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

3rd August: A Derbyshire packhorse bridge and ford

Thanks to David Stirling (goyt-valley.org.uk) for the use of this informative photograph.

This was the  historic way of crossing streams and even rivers. A flat, stone ’causey’ from the Old French, for causeway, improved fording a stream and the bridge came later, when the water was in flood. However, ‘platt’ bridges, consisting of wooden planks or large flat stone slabs,  were and still are, a feature over ditches and  watercourses both narrow and wide, to this day.

5th August: Waverton. Path from St.Peter’s Church over the Shropshire Union Canal to Martin’s Lane to Stapleford Bridge

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

This hedge in Hampshire was there in 1066!  Many hedges are  even older.  Will be seeking to date the hedgerows of the hollow ways at Platts Lane, Hockenhall and  Kelsall, with the third, along the old track behind Waverton Church.

Using Hooper’s ‘Law’,  as the ‘standard’ dating method. Counting the number of woody species in a 30 metre complete hedge, excluding Sycamore, Bramble, and multiplying by 100 gives a generally accepted age of the hedge,  Clearly, there is some latitude, so finding 8 species = 800 years though 600 would  be reasonable. However, support would come from any substantial oaks, beech, sweet chestnut and a few other trees.

25th September

Found the outlet of the drainage pipe crossing the miillfield appears some in the ditch south of the east bridge. About 2m down from the bridge.  The piece of pipe is 1cm thick, glazed brown and the piece embedded in the bank ditch is curved to with a straight edge rather reminiscent of a flattened half-moon.

Also, noticed another aspect of the north elevation of the causeway where it meets the soil surface, near the east bridge. There are at least two more blocks below the ground level and a section where the blocks are set back from those above ground. Could this be a former causeway?

10th October  The Causeway at Hockenhull

Did a little earth moving with a trowel. Only a foot down and what seemed to be another possible causeway. Makes sense as I have always maintained a causeway, in some form, existed from perhaps, the Iron Age.  At Poulton, three miles south of Chester, excavations found pottery vessels used for transporting salt. Called VCP, Very Coarse Pottery, it was produced by earlier people in prehistory and the Romans were very serious about salt. Salinae was the Roman name given to Northwich, the main salt producer.

A trowel dig is not enough to confirm an earlier causeway. It needs a proper dig!

22 October 2018

Had a go at determining a packhorse route to the Platts.

  1. out of Wales to Poulton across the ford above Aldford and Chapel Lane through Bruera cross Powesey Brook ( a smithy by the bridge} off at Millfield Lane following the line of a Roman Road now lost to ploughing to St Peter’s Church, Waverton and following a medieval trackway ( possibly Roman) to Martin’s Lane to join Guy Lane. On to Stapleford Bridge (smithy nearby), Cross Lanes to Oscroft then either east to meet Common Lane, Kelsall to meet Roman Road eastwards through Nettleford Wood and Eddisbury Hill OR Oscroft to Willington Road-Chapel Lane-Gooseberry Lane, climbing Little Switzerland  then north along Waste Lane or King’s Gate. then below Primrose Wood to…