Victorian Powys for primary  schools
Powys Digital History Project
Hay and the Wye valley
  Water transport  

Great rivers like the River Wye were used for transport for hundreds of years, because moving anything heavy was much easier in a barge or boat than it was in a cart.
Hereford made the most of its connections along the river network with the Forest of Dean and even with cities like Bristol.
The people of the Hay area did their best to exploit all the opportunities for transport that the Wye could offer.

  Hay in the early 19th century  
  The detail above from an early 19th century engraving shows boats drawn up on the river bank by the bridge at Hay.
The higher up the river you travel the shallower the water gets, so really big barges would not have travelled into the upper Wye.
The best time for transporting materials by boat was in winter when the water was deeper, and it is thought that barges could get up to Glasbury when the river was in flood.
Smaller craft could get even further upstream. To sail the boats against the strong current meant hauling them by ropes from the bank. This must have been back-breaking work.

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