The River Diversion

When the viaduct was built in the 1830s the river had to be diverted from its natural course. One casualty was Mead Mill (Meadow Mill) which had operated here for 1,000 years. It was on the river close to the new railway embankment but once the river was diverted Mead Mill was immediately out of business. I assume that by this date the Radcliffe Trust decided that one mill for Wolverton was adequate and the West Mill became Wolverton Mill. Mead Mill was inhabited for about 20 years after this but it no longer functioned as a mill.

Looking at this early 20th century photograph today I realised that the evidence of the new man-made river channel survived for a long time after it was dug – the regular width, ditch-like banks, little vegetation on the bank side. If you take a look at the bank on the other side of the Haversham bridge, for example, you can notice a marked contrast in the bank development and the course of the river.

Map showing the River Diversion of 1838

On this map you can see the location of Mead Mill, now some distance from the river. The new course cut through an S-shaped bend that rejoined the river on the west side.