Sweetest Earth, I love and love thee, Seas about thee, skies above thee, Sun and Storms, Hued and forms of the clouds with floating shadows on thy mountains and thy meadows. From Gaudeamus Igitur by Margaret Louisa Woods née Bradley; 20 November 1855 – 1 December 1945, an English writer, known for novels and poetry.
Here in England everything is changing. From our way of living to the weather. Okay, so Mother Nature has control of the weather from day to day, season by season, thank goodness, but we humans are interfering with our thoughtless behaviour. At the moment, and over the next few days in my part of England we are expecting more rain. It must be remember that being part of Britain, England like the rest of the British Isles is known for being a green and pleasant land. As the English poet, William Blake, (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) tells us in his powerful poem Jerusalem.
And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God On England's pleasant pastures seen?
It’s the power of the rain that keeps the land around me green and pleasant, but over the last few years our winters and summers have been very dry. Rivers that were once fast flowing and drove the watermills along their banks and were full of wildlife have slowed or disappeared altogether as they have been used to water crops. The increase in the population and more housing means water is a precious commodity and in danger of drying up too.
The Blackwater River rises in the North West of Essex as the river Pant, and makes its way as a stream to Braintree where its name changes to the Blackwater for the rest of its journey to the sea. On its way the Blackwater passes through Stisted, Bradwell, Coggeshall, Coggeshall Hamlet, Feering, Kelvedon, near Witham, Wickham Bishops, Langford to Beeleigh where it meets the Chelmer. All of these place once had watermills stand on its banks to grind the wheat from local farmers into flour for its community. Many of these mills have gone or been converted into houses. In the pictures below you can see what once would have housed waterwheel of West Mill in Coggeshall. The water here is no more than a trickle. It would never drive a waterwheel enough to create flour for a community today.
In 1797 the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation company canalised the rivers Chelmer and Blackwater from Springfield Basin in Chelmsford to the sealock at Heybridge, the site of the old Heybridge mill (now known as Heybridge Creek) before passing through a sluice gate into the tidal Blackwater Estuary at Maldon. The length of the canal is 13.75 miles (22.13km) and was used in the past to bring grain from Radwinter a village, in the Uttlesford district in Essex to Beeleigh Abbey in Maldon, Essex
As a child I grew up at Moulsham Mill. The mill stand on the Chelmer river, the river which gives the city of Chelmsford its name. As Chelmsford was once a settlement which built up around the main river crossing on the Chelmer river at a ford. While looking at early records of Moulsham Mill dating back to the 1600’s. The owner of the Moulsham Mill at that time was up before a local judge due to his lack of repairs to the wooden bridge at the crossing on the main thoroughfare between Colchester and Chelmsford now known as the A12. When I was a child, the Chelmer river often flooded the meads and the town centre too. This has become a thing of the past as flood defences were put in place but also a drier climate too.
The video below shows you how dry England was in 2018. As I drove my son to work, our journey through the village of Bradwell, Essex. By chance my onboard car camera pick up a conversation on the radio where water charity speaker was talking about the world water shortage as we drove through a very parch landscape. Don’t be fool by all the heavy rain we’re having now because the planet is warming up and populations are growing as we cut down trees, dam rivers and continue to pollute our planet. Fresh drinking water will be more valuable than gold or silver in the future.
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