Wey Navigation – Town Mill to St Catherine’s

The Town Mill at Guildford. This used to be the unofficial terminus of the Wey Navigation beyond Town Wharf – until 1764 when the Godalming Navigation opened. Despite the older and narrower Town bridge below Millmead records show that barges squeezed through to serve the Mills. The Toll House is the small brick building on the far end of the mills

A view of the Toll House’s main frontage showing gear that is part of the Hydro Electric project

Information on the Toll House Hydro Project

The Navigation from this point onwards becomes known as the Godalming Navigation.

A turn of the century scene at Millmead. The area to the right is now a car park!



Two views of Millmead Lock. The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is the modern structure in the lower picture. In 1968 extreme rainfall saw floods so bad that the Yvonne Arnaud theatre and Debenhams (then called Plummer’s) had water reaching more than halfway up their street level windows. The shops in the lower part of Guildford’s high street were also indunated. The water must have been somethng like 12-15 feet above normal levels!

I took this picture of Millmead lock in 1989. It still had telegraph poles on all four gates.


The entire stretch of river between Millmead and Quarry footbridge was populated by inns, boathouses and tearooms offering rowing boats for hire. In its Edwardian heyday this stretch of river was extremely popular with Guildfordians and day-trippers who came to enjoy the sights and experience the river.

First was Leroy’s boat hire business, followed by Allen’s. The Jolly Farmer served the beers. Many of the boat hire buildings were demolished to make way for a car park. Leroy’s is now the Guildford Boat House whist the Jolly Farmer is now the Wey Side Inn

Quarry St footbridge and Millmeads

The Godalming Navigation at Millmeads, above Quarry St footbridge. This is a popular mooring spot, handy for the short walk to Guildford’s shops

Attractive cottages above Millmeads. The stretch of water here has a mix of old and modern housing, the older properties being towards the southern extremity

Sand and water at St Catherine’s footbridge. The St Catherines Fair actually used to reach right down to this spot from the top of the hill, and it is fair to say that people used to reach it by boat, as well as by way of the North Downs Way.

For many years there was also a ferry here.The golden sands marked the site of a ford, and it is thought that this ‘gold ford’ was the origin of the town name of Guildford

Animated scene at St Catherine’s ferry circa 1918:


Continuing our journey along the Wey, we come to St Catherine’s lock – the shallowest on the navigations

Next: Shalford to Godalming

Wey Navigation Pages:

Thames Lock – Weybridge Town / Coxes – Parvis Wharf / Parvis – Walsham Gates / Newark – Worsfold Gates / Worsfold – Stoke / Stoke – Guildford Wharf / Town Mill – St Catherine’s / Shalford – Godalming / Harry Stevens

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