Saturday, 21 January 2012

Lee Navigation - Waltham Abbey



Lee Navigation, Old River Lea, Horsemill Stream and other channels
The Navigation and associated channels all flow south.

Post to the south Ramney Marsh
Post to the north Waltham Abbey Works
Post to the west Waltham Cross
Post to the east Waltham Abbey
Abbey View
Bypass road to Waltham Abbey, which goes round the north of the town and built in 1972.
Medieval Bridge - there was a bridge at the point at which the road crosses the Lower Mill Stream. This was linked by a causeway to Stoney Bridge. It was built of Caen Stone and Kentish Rag.

Beaulieu Drive
The road appears to follow the route of the rail line into the Gunpowder Works from Brimsdown. This probably dated from the 1890s, was consiolidated with other railways in 1917 and closed in the 1920s. This road was built to provide access to the site in the 1990s as an early part of the remediation process.
Railway sidings and access areas lay to the west of the road
Saltpetre refinery - From the 1780s saltpetre was prepared concentrated and crystallised in a refinery whose remains lie beneath the junction of Highbridge Street and Beaulieu Drive

Flagstaff Close
Walton House. Superintendent's office built in 1789, with later extensions. It is in red brick and the oldest building remaining on site. The name relates to the purchase of the gunpowder mills from John Walton by the government in 1787.
Mixing House extended to north by one bay before 1830; linked by later C19 bay to centre.
Saltpetre Mill to left has flat brick flat arches. Saltpetre and sulphur were mixed with charcoal, these ingredients then being crushed in the incorporating mill.

Fowley Mead
Caravan Park

High Bridge Street
The name refers to a bridge over the Old River Lea. This was a lifting bridge. The road was previously called West Street.
23 Highbridge House. A 19th building with an original shop-front which extends across later buildings.
31 The Old Court House. Built in red brick with ‘1794’ over the porch. There is a passageway down the side with a stucco arch.
36 this is a 16th timber-framed building.
38 this is a timber-framed building with an 18th front.
40 19th stucco front to earlier structure with 19th shop front
42 19th stucco front to earlier structure with 19th shop front
Tannery - Evidence has been found here of an 18th tannery.
Abbey Mills. Modern office building now on site. The actual mill site is to the south. This was originally a water powered corn mill. The most recent past use was as a scrap yard.
Tunnel - a tunnel was provided for the rail line into the gunpowder works which passed under the road. It was parallel to the river and 3 feet below water level and it was lined with water tight concrete. It was necessary to re-route the town sewer in order to build it and a coffer dam had to be provided for access to pipes.

Lea Navigation
Waltham Town lock. This was built in 1768 and rebuilt in 1922.
A new lock keeper’s house was built in the late 1870s. 

Lea Road
Lea Road Industrial Park
Waltham Abbey Well, Thames Water.  19th Water Board building. In the 1880s a deep well was dug and water pumped to Waltham Abbey,  Loughton, Woodford, Buckhurst Hill and Chigwell  by the  East London Water Co. 
Pump House, Water Board  house.  . Now in private use

Lower Island
Only the northern section of the site is on this square
Extension of the gunpowder mills.  A group of mills were built here soon after the site opened and a new canal and head race built to power them. This was a press house, corning and reeling houses, and two more powder mills. Soon after a sulphur subliming plant was built of which the foundations survive and then, in 1814, two horse powered corning mills. In the 1850s more mills were built here including some steam power and the site continued to be used until the Great War.  Building remained here into the 1950s among heavy undergrowth. Group B Incorporating Mills were demolished in 1963 for north- south road building and in the late 1960s the Rammey Marsh Flood Relief Channel was built through the site. 
Bank which lies towards the south but near the flood relief barrier – this is made up of refuse material laid on top of the remains of a canal which had gunpowder mills on both sides. There are some brick structures remaining associated with it which are the remains of an Incorporating Mill
Hollow – this is north of the flood control gates and west of the track and it marks the course of the canal and the site of the mill head race.
Bank – this is west of the hollow marking the canal and on the far side of it is the site of 19th Proof Butts.
Sulphur Refinery – the foundations of these lie to the north of the site of the Proof Butts,
Track – beneath the track lie remains of steam driven Gunpowder Incorporating Mills and a Boiler House built in 1859.

Meridian Way
The road appears to follow the route of the rail line into the Gunpowder Works from Brimsdown. This probably dated from the 1890s, was consiolidated with other railways in 1917 and closed in the 1920s.
Road Bridge over the river Lee. Adjacent to this are the remains of an earlier footbridge which was within the Royal Gunpowder Mills site.
Foundations of store buildings lie north of the road bridge with the Millhead Stream on their eastern site.

Old River Lea
Replaced as the navigational stream in 1769
Two swing bridges had to be provided for the Gunpowder works railway. These had a central concrete pier with one fixed span and the other pivoting central with half its length on land.

Powdermill Lane
9 19th brick building which was additional office accommodation for the Royal Gunpowder Factory during its expansion at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
Boiler House. Built 1857 in brick. This includes the Dynamo House built 1902 added to the boiler house. It is brick with Iron roof trusses inside. Built to provide power for the first steam-powered incorporating mills. The Dynamo House marks change from steam to electric power, and a change to cordite reeling.
Engine House and Mechanics' Shop. Built 1857 in brick.  In 1859 a Motor Room was added. Inside are octagonal cast-iron columns with ornate capitals. A 30-horsepower Compound Steam Engine. Drove six incorporating mills
The Lodge. Built as house for senior officers at the Factory.

Ramney Marsh Flood Relief Channel
This runs parallel to the Navigation

Station Road
Small Lea Bridge
Holdbrook Christian Fellowship
Lea Valley White Water Centre

Town Mead
Suggested that this was an area of Saxon settlement
Gravel Pit active in the 1960s and subsequently turned into playing fields.  Its construction however destroyed much of the head race to the mills.
Area of sports activities with a leisure centre to the west of here

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