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Looking for the Gunpowder mills

By Bill Nicholls

Saturday 12th May was another of those days my wife went off to a dog fun day. I came along to keep her company as it was somewhere different. I had checked out the map of the area and it looked quite fruitful in the number of pillboxes there could be. So after getting to our destination of Chilworth I thought it was time for a walk round on my own, while my wife and dog enjoyed their day. First problem I encountered was I had left my map behind, had the GPS but no map of the places I wanted to get to. I seemed to remember the pillboxes lined the river but with no map of the positions I was left with walking round the village not even turning on the GPS (big mistake).
Heading off through Chilworth which did not seem to have much to offer to start with TQ0247 : House on New Road by Bill Nicholls, the Church was a recent one (Victorian) TQ0247 : Church along New Road by Bill Nicholls and the Village hall looked like it used to be an old tin chapel TQ0247 : Fence round the carpark by Bill Nicholls as it was made from corrugated iron (unusual nowadays) then there was the railway crossing TQ0247 : Chilworth Level Crossing by Bill Nicholls. I had not realised there was a station or I would have headed there, instead I went down a lane called Old Manor Gardens TQ0247 : Old Manor gardens by Bill Nicholls which turned out to be very rough even though I was on foot. I reached some cottages at the end and noticed the name, Magazine Cottages. Either someone had a sense of humour or they had history. Turned out to be the latter as after asking a resident why he told me they were old tithe cottages from the gunpowder mills and after asking where they were I was told how to get there. I decided to carry on the way I was going TQ0247 : Footpath by the railway by Bill Nicholls and make my way to the gunpowder mills. It was quite scenic as I passed a small river and a white cottage of the chocolate box variety in a field TQ0247 : Cottage on the hillside by Bill Nicholls then, after going past some houses I came out on Halfpenny Lane in front of the entrance to the gunpowder mills TQ0247 : Gatehouse by the gate by Bill Nicholls. A few quick photos of Halfpenny Lane TQ0247 : Bridge on Halfpenny lane by Bill Nicholls TQ0247 : Cottage on the corner by Bill Nicholls TQ0247 : Bend on Halpenny Lane by Bill Nicholls and it was off through the mills TQ0247 : A walk through the mills by Bill Nicholls. They dated back to 1670 and stopped production in 1920.
All along the path you came across old sluices where water still ran out of the old brick channels TQ0247 : Looking up the spillway by Bill Nicholls through what was left of a mill. Millstones stood around or were left lying where they fell last TQ0247 : Couple of Millstones by Bill Nicholls. The trees and undergrowth were being cut back after years of neglect to reveal old water courses and the footings of buildings TQ0247 : More remains by Bill Nicholls. A water course like a small canal fed much of this and you came across an old tramway and swing bridge proving small barges were sent along the water course. TQ0347 : An old swingbridge by Bill Nicholls TQ0347 : Looking across the bridge by Bill Nicholls
Walking on further into the place you soon come across the large mill buildings still standing and looking grim TQ0347 : A huge building by Bill Nicholls TQ0347 : Part by the Mills by Bill Nicholls TQ0347 : Nothing between the walls by Bill Nicholls TQ0347 : Inside the building by Bill Nicholls.
A little further is another building and then you come to a gate leading out to a track. This is where I found my only WW2 remains of the day, a road block and the first of its type I had come across where steel rails were inserted. Its counterpart on the other side seemed to have been demolished as a pile of concrete was all that remained TQ0347 : Where the rail went by Bill Nicholls.
It was time to return so it was a pleasant walk back through the woods TQ0347 : The path back by Bill Nicholls before getting to the road again though one more stop off was required to get some photos of a second church before meeting up with my wife.
No geotrip this time more is the pity it will teach me to turn on the GPS in future no matter how short or uninteresting the walk could be.


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Marker only shows grid square

When
Tue, 22 May 2012 at 16:15
Grid Square
geotagged! TQ0274
Chosen Photo

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