Cargo Boats on the River Ray

Cargo boats on the Ray


Those of us who remember the many years during which the River Ray was maintained to a high standard by local men, employed by the river authority in its various guises, will be able to relate to the following extract from “Waterways and Canal Building in Medieval England “, by John Blair.

   Three royal commissions concern a tributary of the Cherwell, the Ray. The first (1271) complains that wattle barriers and nets across the water of Otmoor have narrowed it, causing flooding and impeding vessels carrying “divers necessities or small or other fish”; the second (1294) orders the removal of weirs from the Thames and “the river of the moor of Otmoor” between Otmoor and London, because vessels cannot pass as formerly; while the third (1375) orders a survey of “the hythe called la Ree of Otmoor,” which has been blocked by trees and sluices. Improbably small though the Ray looks for navigation, it could have had a special role in the trans-freighting of goods between the Thames and Wash river systems via the Buckinghamshire Ouse, a market for Droitwich salt near the source of the Ray* hints at the preparation of foodstuffs to be sent in either direction.

* This refers to a salt depot at Piddington

Nigel Lambert