East & West Molesey

A Dictionary of Local History

Rowland G. M. Baker, 1972

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Before the coming of the railway a great deal of freight was carried up and down the river by barge. Sometimes, especially in times of drought, parts of the river became too shallow to enable the boats to float and trade came to a standstill. One particularly infamous spot in this respect was the bend around Molesey Hurst, notably where the river widens opposite Hampton church, known as the "Hampton shoals". Several plans were put forward to improve the navigation of this part of the river, including one grandiose scheme to cut a canal right across the Hurst from Platts Ait to Cigarette Island. In 1809 the engineer John Rennie proposed the building of a number of weirs to hold back the water, with pound locks to let the craft through. One of these locks was to be built at East Molesey, and work was begun on its construction in 1814. It was opened for traffic on 9th August 1815. Rollers for light craft were added in 1871, and the lock was entirely rebuilt in 1906. The original lock-keeper's house, Italianate in design, was demolished in 1925 when the present house was built.

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