This website is managed by Radcliffe on Trent Local History Society
movements of boats on a Sunday. There were no bridges between Newark and Nottingham so ferries were the main means of crossing for the villages along its banks. A wharf house was built here in 1820 and Edward Parr operated a ferry service for access to Stoke, Carlton and Gedling.
Change of course of the river
By the mid-16thC the course of the river at Radcliffe had dramatically changed. In earlier times it flowed north of an area of grazing land known as the Hesgang or Eastgang Pasture (this land became part of Stoke Bardolph after World War 1). From Tudor times the river swung southwards so that the Hesgang pasture could be reached from Radcliffe by boat or ford. Water levels still allowed cattle and drovers to ford the river to reach the marooned pasture. From the 1570s however, Sir Thomas Stanhope of Shelford built a weir nearby. At Radcliffe the water level rose and cattle were expected to swim rather than walk to the Hesgang. The weir was destroyed in 1593 and the ford became passable again, as routes through the water are shown on the enclosure map of 1790.
Cliff Field pasture
This 20-acre area was known as Cliff field and was owned by Sir Thomas Stanhope of Shelford in the 16thC, with the local squire John Rosell paying a rental of 7d per year. Cliff field/pasture was divided up between Charles Pierrepont and Jonas Bettison after the 1790 enclosure act. On this land, between the river and lily ponds, cattle could be seen well into the 20thC. They were driven there along the riverside path from the direction of Shelford or transported on flat bottomed boats or barges.
The weir was constructed in the 1890s
Radcliffe Ferry and Boat House
The Lily Ponds - as picture above
These have changed shape over the years. An early map shows no access from the cliffs to the pond, indicating that it was once part of the river. Later maps show two distinct ponds and the 20thC map shows a large pool and with two forks with a raised piece of land between. The Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre lists the Avenue Pond as a site of importance to nature conservation. The parish council have purchased the area so that the village of Radcliffe on Trent can continue to enjoy this attractive area of land
Read the full story on the attached dowloadable document From Wharf to Weir
The river alongside the red cliffs gives Radcliffe on Trent its name. The Celts had named the river Tristanton or Trespasser and over the centuries its banks have been eroded and its course changed. From early times it has provided a trade route and has been important for fishing. The Domesday survey of 1086 records half a fishery and a third part of another in the Radcliffe manor held by William Peverel, while other records refer to salmon, barbell and eels caught locally.
It was a busy transport route and in the 13thC Radcliffe people would have found work opportunities, hauling barges and providing thirsty bargemen with ale. Willows were grown beside the river and many villagers were recorded as basket-makers. It was also notoriously treacherous and drownings were frequent.
The Wharf and Ferry
A wharf was reputably built in 1779. A 1782 map of the Trent Navigation Company shows a coal wharf at Radcliffe and considerable trade in Crich Lime is recorded from the end of the 18thC. Boats appear in probate records and magistrates kept a strict eye on river traffic, stopping