Mar 10

Parish Water Maps seem like a great idea to me.  They might reveal all kinds of relationship with water that are presently hidden or forgotten.  This reminded me of when I was a child I had a friend whose family had to move from the farm they had lived on for some generations to accommodate the building of the Bewl Reservoir in Kent. 

Looking at the webpage http://www.bewlwater.co.uk/kent/file/Bewl%20Water%20Reservoir%20Factsheetsv2.pdf

it suggests that ‘The overall cost of the scheme when complete, some 30 years after the original concept had been born, was £6.9 million, or £1 for every 1000 gallons of storage capacity……….. Long before the reservoir scheme was formed, the Bewl valley existed as a part of the High Weald area where drovers herded pigs along sunken lanes to feed amongst the woods and clearings. From c1300 to 1730 the valley was home to the Chingley Forge and Furnace - here iron tools were produced from charcoal-fired furnaces. Many items of archaeological interest were rescued when the reservoir was created including axe heads, chisels, locks and cannon balls and these were moved to the Maidstone Museum. During construction of the reservoir, buildings within the valley were cleared. Three important houses from the 14th and 15th centuries were dismantled and moved to new sites. The most challenging of these was the 14th century Dunster’s Mill House which was rebuilt by German master-craftsmen in its present location overlooking the lake. It was moved approximately 500m although the original mill wheel was left and is now submerged. Tindalls Cottage contained interesting 14th century panelling and was removed to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum while Ketley Cottage, dating from 1480, was rebuilt locally in Cousley Wood.’  


There are of course lots of examples of drowned villages around the world and although there are now some good documents and photos about these, the dreadful upheaval and dislocation the drownings must have caused to both humans and animals is less well recorded.  Here in Northumberland there is the original Plashetts Village now under Kielder Reservoir, the largest manmade water body. in Europe.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALYvCNlGj6M  7  and  The lost world beneath the waters:  http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk/news/2.2978/the-lost-world-beneath-the-waters-1.101359  There’s also an abandoned village thread which is worth looking at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11765712

Kielder Dam

A couple of years ago I visited the extraordinary village of Aldeia da Luz on the Portugal/Spain border.  http://www.panoramio.com/photo/40289462  The original village was drowned and there is a really interesting record of the drowning, the rebuilding of the village and oral histories of the village and villagers feelings about this.  “The baker couldn’t get the dough to rise, the water was different, the light was different, the very gravity was different, he claimed. The chickens stopped laying eggs and the goats wouldn’t milk”.  One of the most extraordinary things was the transportation of the cemetery and its contents to a new plot of land

 “On the day they finished moving the cemetery, Dona Josephina went to ten funerals. After eighty-eight years she full knew the strangeness of this world, yet knew also that attending ten funerals in one day was strange even by its standards, especially as they were funerals she had already attended. She should go again, she told herself, if only to show that the dead had not been forgotten. As she stood by the side of the repeated tombs, Dona Josephina thought of her neighbour Don Alberto, who always insisted on telling her all of his outlandish dreams, even though she begged him not to, and covered her ears when he spoke. Ten funerals in one day would have been a dream too strange even for Don Alberto. Don Alberto told her he had stopped dreaming now, anyway. He hadn't had a single dream since they had moved the village”  Source: Rose, C.D. Aldeia da Luz  http://www.untitledbooks.com/fiction/short-stories/aldeia-da-luz-by-c-d-rose/

Thie film by Eduardo Saraiva Pereira is well worth watching:  Entre Duas Terras (Entre Deux Villages/Between Two Villages)

Synopsis: "Tells the story of Aldeia da Luz, population 330, bound to disappear with the construction of the Alqueva dam in the south of Portugal. A new village is being built a few kilometers away as a compensation for the population. The film focuses on the daily life of Aldeia da Luz, with its strong rural tradition and its prospect for change. From the negotiations to the construction of the new houses, the film shows how the authorities and the population try to recreate the village's identity. The situation of the village of Aldeia da Luz reflects a mutating society.’




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