Works at Compton Lock and the Meads
Information note from Twyford Parish Council
Starting on April 3rd for about the following two weeks, you will see works at Compton Lock in progress. These are required to repair the lock bank which has been eroded by the 2014 flood and by heavy usage. The steps have been undermined and the bed of the lock made deep where it needs to be shallow. The steps were put in by the Parish Council when the Meads (with half the Lock) were purchased 20 years or so ago; they too will be replaced with a similar design.
The 2014 floods also damaged the system of floated watermeadow which the Parish Council restored to working order in 1998. We will be working with this specialist contractor to repair this damage and do maintenance. This will involve building up banks where they have been eroded, and digging out the carriers which have been puddled by the grazing cattle.
The floated water meadows of the Meads are over 300 years old and Twyford’s are one of very few that have been restored to working order. To make sure that the works are correctly specified, we have asked for help from Dr Kathy Stearne. She is both an ecologist and a landscape historian and has made a special study of the history, operation and management of floated watermeadows. She is also looking further into the history of the Meads systems and hoping to solve the puzzle of three areas having sinuous layouts but one (the restored one) a rectangular one.
Kathy will also produce a report for the Council to include further works on the Meads. She is to give a talk in the Parish Hall on 20th April at 7.00pm entitled The Myth and Magic of the Drowner: the place of water meadows in the Wessex landscape.
All of these works have to be discussed and agreed for their effect on the nationally important ecology of the Meads. The Environment Agency has granted a license for the works in the Itchen to ensure that the fish and the water quality are safeguarded; Natural England will be granting consent for the works on the Area of Special Scientific Interest which here is most concerned with the plant communities.
The main contractor is Aquascience of Romsey; they are specialists in river engineering and were the lead contractors for the Hants Wildlife Trusts restoration of the Navigation Towpath in 2010.
The scheme also includes replacing the kissing gates and putting up Information Boards
The cost of all of this will be about £18,000, of which Hampshire County Council are giving a grant of £5000 and the South Downs National Park £6000, with £5000 to come from Parish Funds; further grants are likely too.
Demonstrations of the water meadows in operation can also be arranged.
Chris Corcoran March 2018
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With thanks to the Twyford Parish Clerk for permission to reprint this from the original Twyford Information email.
For more information about Twyford Meads, see http://twyfordhants.org.uk/village-information/the-meads/
Kathy Stearne’s talk: The Myth and Magic of the Drowner Water Meadows