Lukely Brook rises in the Bowcombe Valley and joins the Medina at the head of the estuary in Newport. It is subject to tides and forms the northern boundary of mediaeval Newport. It has been greatly modified for centuries, first to support industry such as milling, brewing and tanning, and more recently for flood defence. It can be prone to flooding, and residents with properties that border the water-course should follow good management practices.
Water is abstracted for public supply at Bowcombe. The Plaish Meadows and the brook itself are locally important Sites of Interest to Nature Conservation (SINC‟s
Clatterford Paper Mill was the first mill to exploit the power of the Lukely Brook in 1710. Nothing now remains of the mill but two man made ponds for soaking timber are still visible. Carisbrooke Mill is at the junction of Millers Lane and Castle Street. It is possible that a mill has stood on this spot since Roman times. The mill race is thought to be the longest in the South of England at 250 yards. A large mill pond by the Eight Bells Public House is still in situ, and is open to public access.
Lukely Brook flows into Newport parallel to the Mall. At Wilver road you see the stream at the point where it once entered Westminster Mill Pond, a beautiful lake at the bottom of the gardens on Caesar Road. It is now a modern housing development. Westminster Mill (1773) survives at Westminster Place, converted into private residences.
The Brook has been restored as it runs alongside the new housing before it flows into Towngate, originally a Medieval mill site. Although for hundreds of years a large pond stood adjacent to Towngate Mill, it was not in fact a mill pond, Towngate Mill receiving its power from a mill dam further upstream. The pond was used as a public facility in a town with a limited water supply, for watering beasts on their way to market, and for tightening iron cart wheels that had come loose.
St Cross Mill is located in the oldest part of Newport and the last mill to be found on the Lukely Brook. The mill ceased working in 1939. Crocker Street originally housed local industries that required a good water supply for their trade, in particular, dyers, fellmongers, tanners and brewers. The brook was canalised to allow barges round the clock access between Mew Langton Brewery and Town Quay.
Southern Water have undertaken works to improve fish passage on the Lukely Brook and are now (between 2022 and 2024) undertaking further river habitat enhancement work between its source near to Bowcombe, down to Towngate Pond in Newport that will make the stream even more resilient to environmental change, improving flows and water depths in the stream, and providing increased public amenity value. Click here for information on past and proposed improvements being undertaken by Southern Water on the Lukely Brook
The Mill Trail Walk follows the Lukely from Carisbrooke to Newport.
The lovely photograph above has been kindly supplied by Carol Walker of the Isle of Wight Photographic Society who are kindly helping us with this project.
The technical bits
The Lukely Brook is currently classed as ‘Moderate’ quality within the Water Framework Directive. This means it is failing, and the aim is to improve. The objective set is ‘Good’ by 2027. The main reason is past physical modification which has resulted in poor quality habitats and lack of connectivity. Japanese knotweed is also a problem. Newport Rivers Group and other agencies and organisations are working on a number of projects to tackle these issues. Click for full details.
The Catchment Data Explorer is an Environment Agency tool which helps you explore and download information about the water environment. It supports and builds upon the data in their river basin management plans. Read about the Lukely Brook here.
Three IW Steams – Caul Bourne, Lukely, Rodge Brook Observations on Fauna and Water Quality 1987-1989