The River Seven

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The River Seven


There would not have been a village without the River Seven.  On some 19th century maps the spelling is Severn.  It was the only source of water for hundreds of years.  There are plenty of fish including trout.  Kingfishers and Herons are seen occasionally. 


Sulphur Springs

The Sulphur Spring in the river Seven at Normanby was accessed by the villagers from the kissing gate to the rear of the St Andrew's Church.  It was in line with the boundary fences of the Fish Ponds and that of the Sun Inn.  Before the river widening in the early fifties it rose out of the river bank and was surrounded by boulders the water ran from a piece of iron spouting down the bank into the river.  People I have spoken to described the smell as that of bad eggs, and the colour of the run off to the river to be green and blue slime. The water was collected in white enamel buckets, it was then left standing for some 24 hours before use, this dispersed the smell. Since the river widening the spring now rises in the river bed and it is visible when the river is low.


Up to the end of 1sr World War the villagers on Mondays would collect water from the river to fill the copper boilers for the weekly wash.


Other Sulphur Springs exist in the area one on the green at Salton and the other at Risebro close to Spring Wood and adjoining Coopers Covert each were said to be in line with the Spa at Harrogate and of similar quality by the late Mr Tweedie of Risebro Hall.


Hundreds of thousands have drunk from Harrogate’s ‘healing’ mineral waters. But thanks to a new European health and safety directive, visitors to the spa town are now banned from taking the merest sip.  Council officials have been forced to turn off taps after the sulphur water – once said by the Victorians to cure ailments ranging from gout to lumbago – was graded as ‘unwholesome’


There used to be stepping stones upstream of the road bridge and in the Fish Ponds to walk across to the opposite bank.  Residents collected Fossils from the river bed in the Fish Ponds and it was a established picnic area for the village people.  The iron bridge to the north of the village was once a diving point for children (before the weir was constructed).


c.2000 Iron Bridge

c.2000 Weir


River Seven Wikipedia


There have been many floods over the years.  In 1868 a man narrowly escaped drowning at Normanby Bridge when he was carried downstream for a quarter of a mile.  The 5th of September 1872 was another high flood.


This and previous flooding encouraged the North Yorkshire River Board to improve the Seven's flow and rebuild the flood banks in the 1950's.  The flood banks were constructed using a narrow gauge railway to transport the spoil.  The spoil wagons being loaded by drag-line excavator operated by William Frank (junior) the engine driver being John Harding.




c.1950 Fish Ponds


In the photograph of the Engine derailment at Normanby bridge note the capped Steam Engine's stand pipe referred to in the the village water supply account.  Shovels were used in the final phases to tidy up the flood banks William Frank (senior) with is always with a shiny shovel well polished with hard work.  Only two compaction rammers were used on the flood banks, the compaction was done in rows very similar to forming earth steps on a slope.  Loose spoil was scattered over the steps formed, raked out to a uniform slope and grass seeded.  After widening the river, Willow erosion mats were used on the banks that were subject to fast flows and on bends to stop undermining.  The willows were cut back from time to time, shrubs and trees have grown high since this photograph.



River Seven at Normanby, Sample Hydrograph of Gauged Daily Flows.


In more recent times the road at the south end of the village has been under 2 foot of water and the old road at the north end by the council houses has also been flooded.



Near the Sun Inn 1978


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Last updated : 14th May 2022.