Three Mills Wall River Weir

Last updated

Three Mills Wall River Weir
Three Mills Wall River Weir.jpg
The weir being constructed in the Three Mills Wall River
Waterway Bow Back Rivers
County Newham
Greater London
Operation Canal & River Trust
First built200809
Fall tidal
Coordinates 51°31′44″N0°00′14″W / 51.529°N 0.004°W / 51.529; -0.004 Coordinates: 51°31′44″N0°00′14″W / 51.529°N 0.004°W / 51.529; -0.004
Works in conjunction with Three Mills Lock and sluice

Three Mills Wall River Weir is a weir on the Bow Back Rivers, in Mill Meads in the London Borough of Newham, England, near to Three Mills. It was built in 2009, when the Bow Back Rivers were refurbished to make them a key feature of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and maintains water levels through much of the park in conjunction with the Three Mills Lock and sluice on the Prescott Channel.



There have been tide mills at Three Mills since at least the time of the Domesday Book. They were fed by the waters of the River Lea, supplemented by tidal water which flowed up the Bow Back Rivers from the River Thames, and powered the mills as the tide fell. [1] The mills were supplied by the Three Mills Wall River, and prior to the reconstruction of the rivers as part of a flood defence project in the 1930s, by Three Mills Back River. There was also a weir from Bow River, the section of the Lee Navigation between Bow Locks and Old Ford Lock. [2] As part of the 1930s scheme, Three Mills Back River was filled in, and a flood relief channel called Prescott Channel was built which enabled flood flows to bypass the mills when required. The new channel incorporated a sluice, which maintained the water levels normally, so that the mills could still operate. [3]

By the 1930s, there were only two mills left at Three Mills. They were used for milling corn, much of which was subsequently used to distill gin, but House Mill ceased operation in 1941, and Clock Mill followed in 1952. [1] The sluice on the Prescott Channel seized up in the 1960s [3] but with the mills no longer operating, it was effectively redundant and was subsequently removed. [4]

The Bow Back Rivers were difficult to navigate, since at low tide there was insufficient water, and at high tide, there was inadequate headroom, particularly where the channels were crossed by the Northern Outfall Sewer. [5] As part of the regeneration of the area connected with the 2012 London Olympics, plans were developed for the refurbishment of the rivers, to maintain them at an intermediate level. [6] It was hoped that they could be used to deliver significant volumes of building materials for the construction of the stadium. [7] In order to achieve this, a new lock and sluice structure was built on the Prescott Channel, but in order to maintain water at the desired levels, a sluice to prevent water bypassing the new structure was necessary on the Three Mills Wall River, and so Three Mills Wall River Weir was built a short distance above Three Mills. [6]

The weir has been constructed across the Three Mills Wall River (also known as Shortwall) by British Waterways. [8] In conjunction with Three Mills Lock and sluice, the two structures stabilise levels at 7.5 feet (2.3 m) above ordnance datum (AOD) around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, whereas they used to rise to 15.8 feet (4.8 m) AOD previously. [6] The structures came into operation in 2009. [9] [10]

The mill pound above House Mill and Clock Mill used to extend northwards to the Lea Bridge Sluices at Lea Bridge Road, but is now very small. House Mill was acquired by the River Lea Tidal Mill Trust Ltd in 1985, and has since been refurbished and opened to the public. The mill wheels are not yet operational, and will not now be tidal, but flow through the new weir could enable them to operate again, and there are hopes that they could be used to generate hydroelectricity. [1]

See also


Related Research Articles

River Witham river in east of England

The River Witham is a river almost entirely in the county of Lincolnshire in the east of England. It rises south of Grantham close to South Witham at SK8818, passes Lincoln at SK9771 and at Boston, TF3244, flows into The Haven, a tidal arm of The Wash, near RSPB Frampton Marsh. The name "Witham" seems to be extremely old and of unknown origin. Archaeological and documentary evidence shows the importance of the Witham as a navigable river from the Iron Age onwards. From Roman times it was navigable to Lincoln, from where the Fossdyke was constructed to link it to the River Trent. The mouth of the river moved in 1014 following severe flooding, and Boston became important as a port.

River Rother, East Sussex river in East Sussex and Kent, UK

The River Rother flows for 35 miles (56 km) through the English counties of East Sussex and Kent. Its source is near Rotherfield in East Sussex, and its mouth is on Rye Bay, part of the English Channel. Prior to 1287, its mouth was further to the east at New Romney, but it changed its course after a great storm blocked its exit to the sea. It was known as the Limen until the sixteenth century. For the final 14 miles (23 km), the river bed is below the high tide level, and Scots Float sluice is used to control levels. It prevents salt water entering the river system at high tides, and retains water in the river during the summer months to ensure the health of the surrounding marsh habitat. Below the sluice, the river is tidal for 3.7 miles (6.0 km).

River Weaver river in Cheshire, England

The River Weaver is a river, navigable in its lower reaches, running in a curving route anti-clockwise across west Cheshire, northern England. Improvements to the river to make it navigable were authorised in 1720 and the work, which included eleven locks, was completed in 1732. An unusual clause in the enabling Act of Parliament stipulated that profits should be given to the County of Cheshire for the improvement of roads and bridges, but the navigation was not initially profitable, and it was 1775 before the first payments were made. Trade continued to rise, and by 1845, over £500,000 had been given to the county.

River Lea River in southern England

The River Lea is a river in South East England. It originates in the Chiltern Hills, England, and flows southeast through east London where it meets the River Thames, the last looping section being known as Bow Creek. It is one of the largest rivers in London and the easternmost major tributary of the Thames. Its valley creates a long chain of marshy ground along its lower length, much of which has been used for gravel and mineral extraction, reservoirs and industry. Much of the river has been canalised to provide a navigable route for boats into eastern Hertfordshire, known as the Lee Navigation. While the lower Lea remains somewhat polluted, its upper stretch and tributaries, classified as chalk streams, are a major source of drinking water for London. A diversion known as the New River, opened in 1613, abstracts clean water away from the lower stretch of the river for drinking. Its origins in the Chilterns contribute to the extreme hardness of London tap water.

Lee Navigation canalised river

The Lee Navigation is a canalised river incorporating the River Lea. It flows from Hertford Castle Weir to the River Thames at Bow Creek; its first lock is Hertford Lock and its last Bow Locks.

Bow Creek (London) long tidal estuary of the English River Lea

Bow Creek is a 2.25-mile (3.6 km) long tidal estuary of the English River Lea and is part of the Bow Back Rivers. Below Bow Locks the creek forms the boundary between the London Boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets, in East London.

Bow Back Rivers

Bow Back Rivers or Stratford Back Rivers is a complex of waterways between Bow and Stratford in east London, England, which connect the River Lea to the River Thames. Starting in the twelfth century, works were carried out to drain Stratford Marshes and several of the waterways were constructed to power watermills. Bow Creek provided the final outfall to the Thames, and the other channels were called Abbey Creek, Channelsea River, City Mill River, Prescott Channel, Pudding Mill River, Saint Thomas Creek, Three Mills Back River, Three Mills Wall River and Waterworks River.

Three Mills human settlement in United Kingdom

The Three Mills are former working mills and an island of the same name on the River Lea. It is one of London’s oldest extant industrial centres. The mills lie in the London Borough of Newham; and, despite lying on the Newham side of the Lea, access is principally from the western, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, side of the river.

Richmond Lock and Footbridge lock and pedestrian bridge, situated on the River Thames in south west London

Richmond Lock and Footbridge is a lock, rising and falling low-tide barrage integrating controlled sluices and pair of pedestrian bridges on the River Thames in south west London, England and is a Grade II* listed structure. It is the furthest downstream of the forty-five Thames locks and the only one owned and operated by the Port of London Authority. It was opened in 1894 and is north-west of the centre of Richmond in a semi-urban part of south-west London. Downstream are Syon Park and Kew Gardens on opposite banks. It connects the promenade at Richmond with the neighbouring district of St. Margarets on the west bank during the day and is closed at night to pedestrians - after 19:30 GMT or after 21:30 when BST is in use. At high tide the sluice gates are raised and partly hidden behind metal arches forming twin footbridges.

City Mill River

City Mill River is part of the Bow Back Rivers in London, England. It formerly fed City Mill, used for the production of chemicals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1930s, the mill was removed and the river was isolated from the tides by the construction of locks at both ends. City Mill Lock, at the southern end, has been refurbished and reopened in 2010.

Ribble Link

The Millennium Ribble Link is a Linear Water Park and new navigation which links the once-isolated Lancaster Canal in Lancashire, England to the River Ribble. It was opened in July 2002.

Prescott Channel

The Prescott Channel was built in 1930–35 as part of a flood relief scheme for the River Lee Navigation in the East End of London, England, and was named after Sir William Prescott, the then chairman of the Lee Conservancy Board. Rubble from the demolished Euston Arch was used in 1962 to improve the channel, which forms part of the Bow Back Rivers.

Bow Locks

Bow Locks (No20) is a set of bi-directional locks in Bromley-by-Bow in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Newham. The locks link the tidal Bow Creek to the River Lee Navigation, which is a canalised river. These locks were first built in 1850 and then rebuilt in 1930, at the same time as the Prescott Channel was cut nearby. At high tide, the tide from Bow Creek formerly flowed through Bow Locks, to raise the level of the canals, such as the Limehouse Cut. In 2000, these locks were modified to keep the tide out, to reduce silting in the canal system.

Chester Weir Grade I listed building in the United Kingdom

Chester Weir is a weir which crosses the River Dee at Chester, Cheshire, England, slightly upstream from the Old Dee Bridge. The weir and the associated salmon leap are recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.

The Lee Flood Relief Channel (FRC) is located in the Lea Valley and flows between Ware, Hertfordshire, and Stratford, east London. Work started on the channel in 1947 following major flooding and it was fully operational by 1976. The channel incorporates existing watercourses, lakes, and new channels. Water from the channel feeds the Lee Valley Reservoir Chain.

Old Ford Lock

Old Ford Lock is a paired lock and weir on the River Lee Navigation, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, England. It is at Fish Island in Old Ford and takes it namesake from after the natural ford which used to exist in the area crossing the uncanalised River Lea.

Three Mills Lock

Three Mills Lock, also known as the Prescott Lock is a lock on the Prescott Channel on the River Lea in London. The project was led by British Waterways and the lock officially opened on 5 June 2009.

Hackney Cut

The Hackney Cut is an artificial channel of the Lee Navigation built in England in 1769 by the River Lea Trustees to straighten and improve the Navigation. It begins at the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir, below Lea Bridge, and is situated in the (modern) London Borough of Hackney. When built it contained two pound locks and a half-lock, but was rebuilt to handle larger barges in the 1850s, and now only Old Ford Lock, which is actually a duplicated pair, remains.

Carpenters Road Lock

Carpenter's Road Lock is a rising radial lock in the London Borough of Newham, near Marshgate Lane in Stratford, England. It is located on the Bow Back Rivers and was constructed in 1933/34. It is the only lock in Britain with rising radial gates at both ends. British Waterways were hoping to restore it as part of the upgrade to Bow Back Rivers which took place for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the gantries which enabled the gates to be raised were demolished to accommodate a wide bridge giving access to the main stadium. After the Games, most of the overbridge was removed. Funding for the restoration of the lock was in place by early 2016, and it is expected to be brought back into use in 2017.

Three Mills Residential Moorings

Three Mills Residential Moorings is a community of twenty residential narrowboats moored on the Three Mills Wall River Weir near Three Mills in Mill Meads.


  1. 1 2 3 "Three Mills". Engineering Timelines. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  2. Thomas 2010
  3. 1 2 "Waterways face new Olympian task". BBC News. 6 April 2008.
  4. "Bow Back Rivers - A potted history". British Waterways. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012.
  5. "Restoration Plans". British Waterways. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  6. 1 2 3 BW-London 2006 , pp. 5–6
  7. BW-London 2006 , p. 2
  8. Revitalising London’s Olympic Waterways (British Waterways) accessed 29 March 2010
  9. "Three Mills Lock". British Waterways.
  10. "Waterway revived as Olympic route". BBC News. 5 June 2009.