Wimbleball - The Valley
Although Wimbleball Lake has a much to offer in terms of its wildlife, beauty and facilities, photographs taken before the valley flooded bear testimony to the beautiful landscape that no longer exists.
The above photographs show the valley looking North from Haddon Hill as it was before the valley was flooded compared with how it looks today. At the bottom of the valley, before it was flooded, you can see the field called Higher Shipton Bridge with Eastern Wood on the left and West Hill Wood on the right. Just visible in the bottom left hand corner is the chimney of Steart Cottage, one of the two properties that were flooded.
The photographs below provide further proof of the beautiful views that have been lost.
Steart Cottage was located at the bottom of the valley just above the confluence of two rivers from Bessom and Upton which then flowed as the River Haddeo under Shipton Bridge and on to Hartford. The photograph on the left was taken in 1971.
The cottage was an attractive building with some interesting features located in a beautiful setting. It had two living rooms, a kitchen, three bedrooms, a spiral staircase and a cellar, which stayed re
markably dry, but its facilities were very basic. It had no plumbing, no electricity and only an outside toilet, however, in the 1950s it was provided with a telephone line. Fresh water had to be drawn from a well which was about 100 yards away across the field and over the river.
It is not known when it was built but its ornate church-like windows suggest that it was a Victorian structure. We know that there were some farm buildings at Steart in the 1800s which were used by Harewood Farm. Even earlier still, it was thought to be the site of a ‘half-way’ house for the monks at Barlynch on their way to St James’ Church at Upton.
The last full-time residents were Stuart and Neah Leighton-Boyce who lived there from before the war. He used to work for the Metropolitan Water Board and, when he passed away, Mrs Leighton-Boyce moved to Hartford although she used to return to tend the flowers in the garden. It was then occupied on a casual basis by a Mr Alan Hearth until work on the dam started.
When it was demolished, the flagstones, slates and two windows were rescued for use elsewhere although their current whereabouts is unknown.