Friday, 25 September 2015

Paper Lock Mill,The River Chelmer via Ulting Walking For Pleasure walk 11th August 2013

Long Lost Walk...

This blog will be sketchy as its been over 2 years since I did it and not fresh in my memory!

I set off on my very first walk with the friendly folk from the Facebook Page Walking For Pleasure.
I arrived first at PaperMill Lock near Little Baddow,Chelmsford,Essex. I parked up and used the toilets and cafe at the lock whilst waiting for the others to arrive.

Papermill lock is a popular and beautiful tourist location, although in mid Essex, it is ideal for a day in the countryside. Papermill lock offers canal cruises along the unspoilt Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation.

The original water mill on the lower island at Little Baddow was built in Saxon times, and by 1573 a second mill, Huskards, had been built on the same island. Both mills were run by one John Hawes, who was fined 2 shillings because:
'by penning of his waters above his mark hath and doth damage to all the Queen's tenants and farmers of the honour of Bewleigh in drowning the meadows and low grounds and for not drawing up his gates upon rage of waters in the hay time and also hath marred a certain highway or lane leading from Baddow bridge unto the mill called Huskardes mill which the said miller is to repair and amend for the avoidance of further inconvenience'.
At that time Huskards Mill operated as both a corn mill and as a mill for fulling cloth. In the 1750's it became the first paper mill in Essex, run by Thomas Hodges and employing 3 men with papermaking skills and an apprentice. In around 1800 the mill was taken over by Benjamin Livermore who continued to operate it as a paper mill for almost another twenty years until it was re-converted for grinding flour. Following the creation of the canal in 1797 a wharf was built here, together with an overnight bothy for the bargees, stables for the horses (now the tea house), and paddocks for livestock.
The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation has long unbroken history starting in June 1793 when an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the making and maintaining of a navigable waterway between the town of Chelmsford in the County of Essex, and a place called Colliers Reach.
The great canal architect, John Rennie, was appointed Chief Engineer, and though he rarely visited the embryonic waterway, his hallmarks can be seen in the mellow redbrick bridges and locks. Richard Coates became Resident Engineer, and completed the Navigation’s construction within four years, though trade to Little Baddow had commenced within three. Coates settled on the waterway and became a major barge owner and merchant – his name being remembered at Coates Quay in Springfield Basin.
In its heyday in the mid 19th century up to 60,000 tons of freight was carried along the 14 miles of the navigation, rising 77ft via 12 locks between Heybridge Basin, on the Blackwater Estuary, and Springfield Basin, close to the heart of Chelmsford. Much coal, corn and timber was transhipped in Heybridge Basin between seagoing ships and navigation barges, though local freight was carried, too, with every parish having its waterside wharf. Wood and iron was taken to Chelmsford to build the Great Eastern Railway, which, in turn, took freight away from the waterway, heralding its decline. With dwindling traffic, horse-drawn barges survived into the 1950s, and the last diesel lighter loaded timber from a Scandinavian steamer for Browns Wharf in 1972.

Soon after the last barge “Julie” took semi-retirement, the traditional passenger barge “Victoria” opened up the navigation’s tranquil waters to the public, and since the 1970s the Company has looked to leisure for its future, with moorings for private cruisers and narrowboats, canoeing, fishing and walking. The Canal Centre at Paper Mill, with its Old Stables Tea Rooms, river trips and hire boats, opened in 2002.

After a while we were all present. We set off along the road and took a footpath through farmland,through fields of wheat.

I got my first introduction to Geocaching on this walk, and I have had a go at this a few times since!

Crossing a Ford

A Mercedes crossing a Ford
We pass some lovely houses complete with their own Peacocks.

Opposite some houses we took another footpath past some horses.

Back out onto some more road walking.

We leave the footpath and head up towards Ulting.

All Saints School at Ulting This is the old original Victorian school that was built in 1865 for Ulting village.
Ulting was the location of the first sugar beet factory in England, although its useful life was cut short by cheap imports of cane sugar.

All Saints, the village church, has been standing since 1150, with a major restoration taking place in the 1870s. The church was once a place of pilgrimage ranking with Walsingham and other famous shrines.The River Chelmer runs next to the church and through Ulting.

Parish Church of All Saints stands at the S.W. end of the parish. The walls are of flint and puddingstone-rubble with dressings of freestone; the roofs are tiled. The Chancel and Nave were both built early in the 13th century, but the the base of the walls may possibly be of earlier date. The church was extensively restored in 1873, and the North Porch and South Vestry are modern.

We stopped here for lunch behind the church beside The Chelmer.

The history of milling around Ulting, and its relationship to waterways, goes back to Saxon times, although the first named miller in written records is Richard Ulting in 1496. In fact the village name 'Ult-ing' is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon name for the river, the 'Ult', (probably the River Ter) and the settlers or 'ingas' living there.

We set off back down the road from whence we came and took another path back into farmland.

We walked through a farm and came across a locked gate, which we had to climb to get back out onto another road to continue the walk.

We now reach the Chelmer once again and follow this again.

We reach Hoe Mill Lock.Where we crossed the river to walk along the other bank.

Hoe Mill Lock has the largest drop on the Navigation, at 8 feet and 3 inches. As a result there is a danger of swamping the boats when filling the lock, and so the lock paddles on the upper gates are located in underground side culverts. The lock is named after a corn mill which had existed near the site from Saxon times to 1914 when it was demolished. In 1795, Hoe Mill was bought by Robert Marriage. His sons, Robert and James, inherited the mill. They were both Quakers and deeply opposed to the slave trade.
They decided to build a sugar beet mill on the banks of the canal, believing that locally produced beet sugar would undermine the importation of cane sugar largely produced in the Caribbean using slave labour. Their aim was "a desire to obtain the best information and to promote the abolition of slavery, by producing an article of free labour." The mill was sited half a mile downstream from Hoe Mill, near where this walk first joins the towpath. The mill employed 30 men, women and children. The process of converting beet into sugar consisted of first rasping the sugar beet roots and then crushing the beet to a pulp which was pressed. The resulting liquor was reduced by boiling and then clarified, then finally any remaining liquid was evaporated off and the residue crystallised. The left-over pulp was used as cattle feed. Sadly the mill failed after just 2 years partly, it is believed, through the resistance of various influential businessmen who wished to continue to import from the West Indies.

We pass Ulting Church again on the other bank and get some nice pictures from this vantage point.

A Comma Butterfly

Damsel Flies

We arrive back at Papermill Lock where we stop for tea and cake before departing to go home,about a 8 mile walk in all. A very pleasurable one at that!

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