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Past & Present

Left to its own devices the river would become a marshland and floodplain. The River Itchen is man-made and has been channelled, routed and managed over the centuries.

Extracts from William Cobbett's Rural Rides in 1830, gives a contemporary account of the water meadows along the length of the Itchen Valley and beyond, an account added to in 1893 by naturalist Charles Cornish in his book, Wild England of To-day, published in 1895. Theirs is a glimpse of what the Itchen Valley looked like as they travelled through.

Old maps dating from 1869 to the present day, reveal the old water meadows. A description of their operation, illustrated with old photographs, bring aspects of their operation back to life.

Also highlighted are discoveries of fast-fading remnants of the infrastructure and hatch gates that controlled the flow of water across the water meadows, including a detailed drawing of one excavated gate.

The book will be available from February 2019 onwards.