Last paddle weir on Thames to keep its centuries-old ways

Pictured with Northmoor Parish Council chairman Graham Shelton, second from right, are, from left, Debbie Robinson, Nayereh Wooller, Liz Hall, Dudley Hoddinott, Soraya Heffernan, Alex Heffernan and Pat Hall

Pictured with Northmoor Parish Council chairman Graham Shelton, second from right, are, from left, Debbie Robinson, Nayereh Wooller, Liz Hall, Dudley Hoddinott, Soraya Heffernan, Alex Heffernan and Pat Hall

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A WEIR in West Oxfordshire is believed to be one of the last in the world to use ancient techniques of managing river flow.

The weir at Northmoor Lock, near Farmoor, is set to continue operating as a full-span paddle and rymer weir after the Environment Agency (EA) agreed to upgrade materials.

It follows a campaign opposing the agency’s plans to spend an estimated £2.5m to change the 115-year-old weir to a modern motorised system.

Northmoor Weir Campaign member Mike Hill, who lives in nearby Eaton, said he is delighted with the decision.

He said: “It’s been quite a privilege to work with the EA to come to this solution together as a community and organisation to find a solution that retains the history.

“It means lock keepers can still use the manual skills that have been used there for years rather than just press a button.

“We’ve looked around the world and we’re pretty confident it’s a rarity – there doesn’t seem to be another full-span paddle and rymer weir from what we’ve seen.

“Using paddle and rymers is an ancient way of controlling the river and it looks like we are able to keep some heritage in the area.”

Paddle and rymer weirs are operated by placing large wooden posts – the rymers – into the bottom of the river.

To control the water flow, paddles of different heights are placed against the rymers.

Of the 44 weirs on the River Thames, nine were worked by paddle and rymer but five have now been updated.

Northmoor Lock is the last paddle and rymer weir that spans the full width of the Thames.

The EA proposed in 2011 to replace the weir, which has been manned by professional lock staff since 1896, with motorised gates.

Officials said its condition could have long-term health issues for lock keepers operating the weirs.

But campaigners claimed it would be a waste of money and remove a much-loved element of local history.

The EA made a u-turn and instead upgraded the equipment three months ago, using lighter and more durable fibreglass paddles and rymers. It said it is now safer and easier to operate.

It was not able to say how much the upgrade cost.

Northmoor Parish Council chairman Graham Shelton said: “This happened because we made a fuss. Had we not done so then we would now have a modern piece of kit and lost a piece of technology that dates back to the 1700s and has been in continuous use in Northmoor for more than a century.

“It’s a fantastic tourist attraction and it ensures that we have a lock keeper at Northmoor operating it by hand.”

 

 

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor: What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter for publication here

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.

Our top stories

Rising cost of delayed tower blocks revamp will top £20m

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Friday 29th May 2015

A MULTI-million pound project to refurbish Oxford’s five tower blocks could be delayed by almost a year.

Oxford University is set to appoint its first female vice-chancellor

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Friday 29th May 2015

THE first female vice-chancellor of Oxford University has been nominated by committee members and could take up her post next January.

50 bales of hay on fire in field by Tower Hill, Witney

Oxford Mail:

6:32pm Friday 29th May 2015

AT LEAST 50 bales of hay are on fire in a field by Tower Hill, Witney.

Video: Andrew Main sectioned after admitting South Oxfordshire council fire earlier this year

Oxford Mail:

4:16pm Friday 29th May 2015

ANDREW Main has been sectioned indefinitely under the Mental Health Act after admitting starting a number of fires in South Oxfordshire in January.

Pensioner pulled from Rose Hill house fire and treated by paramedics

Oxford Mail: oxfordshire fire and rescue logo

5:51pm Friday 29th May 2015

A PENSIONER was pulled from a house fire in Rose Hill this morning.

Martin Nganga guilty of arson after setting fire to Blackbird Leys house

Oxford Mail:

2:27pm Friday 29th May 2015

A businessman has been found guilty of arson with intent to endanger life after setting fire to a house in Blackbird Leys.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree