Immediately below St Johns Bridge the river receives two injections of water to feed the growing river. The River Cole and River Leach add their contributions from opposite banks and the combined waters continue their journey downstream.
Shortly afterwards I cross the Thames by the newest bridge across the river at Bloomers Hole. The bridge was specifically commissioned by the Countryside Agency to complete the Thames Pathway. It was constructed by Oxfordshire County Council under the direction of Charlie Benner, the senior engineer.
The bridge at first appears to be made of wood, but appearances as is so often the case can be deceptive. The wood is only the cladding, with the real hard work being carried out by two 27 foot-long steel spans, each weighing eight tonnes. The whole construction was pre-assembled and airlifted into place by a Chinook helicopter from nearby RAF Brize Norton.
Exactly how this stretch of river came to bear the name of Bloomer’s Hole is something of a mystery. There is Bloomers Hole and also Bloomers Meadow, but who exactly was Bloomer? Two stories have emerged, neither of which have any great provenance. The first is that a carter by the name of Bloomer was drowned below these waters while attempting to cross the river at this point with his wagon and horse. A sad tale if it is true. More entertainment can be gathered from the second story by standing on the new bridge and imagining the local Rector, the Reverend Bloomer, delightfully splashing about in the refreshing waters below while enjoying his favourite past-time of skinny-dipping. His “au naturelle” aquatic activities allegedly shocked his more staid parishioners into a state of apoplexy. It reminds me of the old favourite;
Parish Lady; “It is disgusting, I can see everything.”
Rev Bloomer; “Madam, I don’t think you can see anything from the town”
Parish Lady; “I can if I climb to the top of the apple tree by the blacksmiths”.
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