Bucks History

The River Ouzel

I had not realised until yesterday that the small river that used to form a boundary between Linslade in Buckinghamshire and Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire eventually reaches its end in Newport Pagnell. The river rises in the Chiltern Hill near Dagnall and is only 20 miles long. For some of its length it runs beside the Grand Union Canal and at Twelve Arches in Linslade the overflow from the canal runs down into the river across the flood plain.One theory for the origin of the name ‘Ouzel’ is a historical association with the dipper, a thrush-sized bird now largely associated with upland rivers and streams, but which is featured on the town crest of Leighton-Linslade.

In prehistory, Just south of Linslade, in an area now know as Tiddenfoot, the ancient Theedway crossed the Ouzel on its way from east to west. The Romans used the route as a way to bring salt south from Droitwich. A thousand years later the crossing was known as Yttingaford and it was here that King Edward the Elder signed a treaty with the Danes of Northumberland as the river formed a boundary between the two kingdoms. A field near the spot has been renamed Peace Meadow to comemorate this. The route of the Theedway has now been lost as Linslade has also been lost to Bedfordshire due to boundary changes in the 1960s.