Frampton Pill

Past and present times on the River Severn

By Brian Bailey

FRAMPTON PILL

It is a fair assumption that man has used the River Severn, it's creeks and pills ever since he has lived in this area.  Frampton-on-Severn pill was once the mouth of the River Cam which wound it's way from the Cotswold escarpment near Dursley down through the vale to the River Severn.  One of the earliest recorded references to the pill is from 1584 when it was crossed by a bridge known as Wharf Bridge.  It is known that coal was being landed in 1770.  A map dated between 1789 and 1821 gives 46 vessels belonging in pills on the River Severn from a line crossing from Aust passage on the east bank and Beechley on the west to Gloucester quay.

The nineteenth century

The reference to Frampton pill states "runs inland about half a mile, rather private.  Three small sloops belong to it which trade to Bristol.  Distance from Berkeley six miles, depth of water 10ft".  It also refers under an * .  These places marked thus * have been notorious for illegal trade.  Between the year 1839 and 1857 there are records of three vessels being built at Frampton-on-Severn, whether these were launched into the pill it is not recorded, but there is also no record of these vessels being launched into the canal or indeed passing through the sea lock at Sharpness.

The enclosures

In 1813 the area around what is known now as Splatt Bridge was enclosed from common or waste ground (Q/R1A 68GRO) and the inhabitants of the parish of Frampton-on-Seven given a free landing place for their goods wares and merchandise, although the soil remained vested in the lords of the manor of Frampton-on-Severn.  Although the landing area moved with the building of the canal and later with the realignment of the sea wall this right is still in existence.

The twenty first century

The pill is now a shadow of its former glory, the River Cam being diverted into the canal when it was built, but it is still possible to launch and retrieve a vessel on tides over 9.8m as of the 1st  September 2009,  This is shown in the accompanying pictures taken on a 10.1m tide Sunday 23rd August 2009.  The extent in which the sands at the entrance of the pill move and vary can be seen in two other pictures, one taken on 27th July 2007 shows a large sand bank at the mouth of the pill, where it then turns left and snakes its way down stream to join the river near the old break water. In the pictures dated 8th September 2009 most of this large bank has gone and the pill flows directly into the main river.  The movement of large areas of land has been noted for a good many years. In the mid 1800s a large field existed further out from what is now the mouth of the pill, as shown on a map of 1835 field 230 (D149/F54GRO).

Photo:The Pill, taken on the 27 July 2007

The Pill, taken on the 27 July 2007

By Brian Bailey

Photo:Frampton Pill, taken on 8 October 2009

Frampton Pill, taken on 8 October 2009

By Brian Bailey

Photo:High water, Frampton on Severn Pill

High water, Frampton on Severn Pill

By Brian Bailey

Photo:High water, Frampton on Severn landing place

High water, Frampton on Severn landing place

By Brian Bailey

Photo:Landing at Frampton on Severn Pill, 23 July 2009

Landing at Frampton on Severn Pill, 23 July 2009

By Brian Bailey

Photo:Low water at Frampton on Severn Pill

Low water at Frampton on Severn Pill

By Brian Bailey

This page was added by Iris Capps on 19/10/2009.

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