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History of the Meadow

Middle Street Meadow is part of an old water meadow system along the River Nadder which was worked until the early 1900's. Evidence of the earlier water-meadow ditches still remain, especially in the eastern end. Historically, Middle Street Meadow was known as Rack Mead . The name refers to the racks on which woven woollen cloth was stretched. The cloth was hung on ‘tenter hooks’ before being taken back to the Old Mill (Harnham Mill) where it was processed.

The land was later given by the farmer who owned it, to Salisbury District Council, to remain in its natural state for the enjoyment of the people of Harnham in perpetuity.

During the winter of 1960-61 a severe flood threatened local homes and a chalk flood bank was constructed along the length of the river bank as part of a flood alleviation scheme. This also included the dredging of another channel for the river so creating Nadder Island. These schemes together altered the hydrology of the meadow lowering the water table. Only following prolonged winter rainfall do parts of the meadow still flood.

In the early 1980s a football pitch was constructed in the centre of the field by draining and levelling. The surrounding area remained as rough grassland.


In 2008 the Environment Agency upgraded the flood defenses to withstand a one in two hundred year flood event. A pond was created to filter the run-off from Churchfields industrial estate and create a new habitat for wildlife.


Click here for more information about the Environment Agency flood defense construction work on the Flood Defense Construction website.

Environment Agency constructing the flood defense in 2008
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