River Rother (Western)

River Rother (Western)

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The river's lower section, below Midhurst, was made navigable in 1794 and closed to trade in 1888, being formally abandoned in 1936. It was connected to Petworth by the short Petworth Canal, convert|1.25|mi|km long with two locks before terminating at Haslingbourne.P.A.L. Vine "West Sussex Waterways" ISBN 0-906520-24-X Page 30]

The river is partially fed by springs in the scarp slope of the chalk strata of the South Downs which flow at a constant volume and temperature throughout the year. This gives a more stable summer flow than is found in the upper reaches of the River Arun, which drains more clay soils. This steady flow powered several watermills along the river. The flour mill at Coultershaw, south of Petworth continued in operation until the 1960s, still partially water powered and collecting imported bread wheat from nearby Petworth railway station, which was then still open for goods only.

The character of the river is currently changing as Himalyan Balsam (Impatiens) spreads rapidly through the river system. This is a highly invasive weed which suppresses native species and reduces biodiversity.

Etymology

The river takes its name from Rotherbridge, not the other way round. Rotherbridge is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "Redrebruge", meaning cattle bridge, [Pamela Bruce, "Northchapel A Village History". Published by Northchapel Parish Council 2000 ISBN 0 9538291 0 3 page5] which was also the name of the Saxon Hundred or administrative group of parishes. Before this the river was known as the Scir. [Peter Jerrome, "Petworth. From the beginnings to 1660" 2002 Published by The Window Press, Petworth ]

References

ee also

*R H Goodsall, "The Arun and Western Rother"
*P A L Vine, "London's Lost Route to Midhurst The Earl of Egremont's Navigation"
* [http://sussexmillsgroup.org.uk/Coulter.htm Sussex Mills Group]
* [http://www.rotherbridge.org.uk/article.htm Bridges of the Western Rother (reproduced from Volume 10 of the Sussex County Magazine 1936) on the Rother Valley Project website]


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