The Quay

by Bryan Linnell

For about ten years up until 1986 there was a steady pressure from the owners of Healing’s Mill, now Allied Mills, for extension on to the Ham. They already owned most of Knaves' Acre but it was said to be insufficient. After years of resistance the Commoners, who, unlike the council, had baulked at selling land for industrial use in such an unsuitable setting, agreed to the sale of 1.4 acres of land. Work on its development began at once. It was noticed that this work took in the whole of the public quay. As has been shown above, no mention of the sale of this quay has ever been made in any of the many indentures over the last 200 years. Despite the claims of the Midland Railway, Dowdeswell never sold them the Quay, only a part of the land behind it for laying their track. It does seem that the quay has been lost by default or by lack of attention on the part of those appointed to manage the affairs of the inhabitants.

Early references show that tolls ward being collected at the Quay in 1401. From that time onwards there is frequent reference to the Public Quay in charters and other documents into the 20th century. It was repaired at public expense in 1552, three years after the town was made an overseas port (1550). Between then and 1963 there are many references to its repair. The last one shared the cost between the Severn River Authority (50%) Healing’s Mill, (25%) and the Town Council and LANT (25%). From maps and drawings including many Town Guides 1804-1972 the quay is shown to extend from King John's Bridge down to the end of Knaves' Acre and Windmill Acre in part.

The loss of the quay has gone unremarked and local authority has shrugged off questions with the response, "Oh; that was sold years ago". It wasn’t.

One other point which has revealed itself only in 1987 and which should have been most obvious in the early stages, is the size of the development of 1986/87. Knave’s Acre is prone to flooding. For all-year round use this has to be stopped. It has been done by the construction of massive concrete barrier which gives an air of fort i fication to the area.

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