Looking Up, At Aylesbury
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The Island of Olney

Goosey Bridge  OlneyPhoto by Alan Bradbury

The Monday Photo

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.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.


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Hello Mr Bradbury im a true olney local my anchestry goes back to kitchners farrows im interested as to how you seem to think the goosey bridge is to late 1700s im in my 60s now i have a good knowledge to olney
these medows were land drained by a dutch gang in the late 1500 e 1600s
hence the dykes that flow waters into the river land then used for grazing
the bridge is for sure to this date as the planks 3 off to clifton meadows
when flooded the planks washed away the dutch flatlanders skilled to irragation
the type of stone used to build bridge is to 15 1600s came from stone pit close just up hill also used to church goosey bridge is to e 1600s can will be proven
im a indentured gold carded carpenter last of old school mr to all sundry please let me know how you obtained the date you give thank you n tite

Thank you Mr. Tite for the information about the Dutch drainage gangs.

I found the 1796 date for Goosey Bridge on the MK Trails website:

The site is part of the Milton Keynes Living Archive project, and they work with the Cowper & Newton Museum and the Olney and District Historical Society, so I considered it a reliable source. It was the only place I could find a date for the bridge either online on in my books.

Sorry it took so long to reply to you; it's been a long week.


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