On The Island
This 1796 bridge gives walkers access to Goosey Island on the Great Ouse at Olney; it's a popular spot. But why is there an island there at all?
I think it’s because there used to be a water mill downstream, on the far side of the main road. To get the water to drive the mill wheel, some of the flow has to be diverted so that it arrives at the mill high above the natural level of the river. The water falling from one level to another under the influence of gravity is what drives the mill.
The river valley is quite flat here, so the diversion has to start quite a long way upstream from the mill. Over the years the river has broken through and there’s now a weir in place to control the water levels.
Up to around the middle of the twentieth Century there had been a weir and a sluice gate in a different spot, about 180 feet North of the present one.
There had been a mill at Olney since the Domesday Book, but a fire gutted the last one in 1965, and the remains were demolished.
At one time there had been another mill a little way at the foot of Clifton Hill, and you can see another island (just about) near there, too. And upstream there are other places in North Bucks where there used to be working mills; you can often find where they were from the islands just upstream.
Are there any places in North Bucks that you have puzzled over? If you have, let me know, and I’ll see if I can solve the mystery for you.