The weir was basically a submerged concrete dam, about ten inches in section at the top, which spanned most of the entire width of the river, just leaving on the far side a narrow channel with an adjustable sluice that could only be accessed via private land on the opposing bank. I believe it was originally built to create a mill-pool, to provide water power to nearby Grantchester Mill, sadly defunct since a fire in 1928.
The water poured rapidly over the top of the weir and dropped several feet to its new lower level. Myself, and a few other brave, or should that be foolish souls, would climb through the safety rails, and utilising them from the wrong side, lower ourselves onto the top of the weir. Standing with our backs to the flow, and hooking the heels of our wellingtons over the upstream edge of the concrete to avoid being swept away, we would slowly shuffle sideways across the weir, on our insteps, inches at a time, whilst trying desperately not to slip on the slimy algoid surface, and ignoring the splashes that made it inside our boots. The fact that I couldn’t swim a stroke wasn’t really relevant. Swimming in wellingtons is apparently almost impossible anyway. When you reached the far side there were some more safety railings you could hang on to whilst psyching yourself up for the return journey in the same dangerous manner. I’ve since been back once or twice as an adult, and looking at the weir, even in the gentlest flow of summer waters, I cannot believe my own stupidity. I suppose it was our version of “playing chicken”.
Continue with the final part of Brian Goodliffe’s childhood memories of Trumpington in the 1940s and 1950s.
The riverside footpath at Byron’s Pool, looking upstream towards the pool. Photo: Andrew Roberts, March 2008.
The current weir at Byron’s Pool, from the footpath to the south east. Photo: Andrew Roberts, February 2008.
The pool above the weir and line of the weir at Byron’s Pool. Photo: Andrew Roberts, October 2007.