Many thanks to Peill & Company Chartered Surveyors for facilitating this camera's location and to South Cumbria Rivers Trust for capitally funding its installation.
The River Kent, located in Cumbria, England, is a relatively short river that spans approximately 20 miles (32 km) from its source in the hills surrounding Kentmere to its endpoint in the north of Morecambe Bay. The upper reaches and the western bank of the river's estuary fall within the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. Flowing in a general north-to-south direction, the river passes through various locations, including Kentmere, Staveley, Burneside, Kendal, and Sedgwick. One notable feature along its course is a rock gorge near Sedgwick, which gives rise to several low waterfalls and presents an enticing opportunity for kayakers seeking high-quality whitewater experiences, particularly after rainfall.The village of Arnside sits on the eastern bank of the Kent estuary, just above Morecambe Bay. At this point, during high spring tides, a tidal bore known as the Arnside Bore forms in the estuary, adding to the natural beauty of the area.The River Kent has a long history of being harnessed for power generation, dating back to at least the 13th century. In 1848, the construction of Kentmere Reservoir was completed to ensure a consistent water supply for millers, enabling their mills to operate year-round. The upper river was home to corn and bobbin mills, while the Staveley mill's weir now supplies water to a turbine generating electricity for the nearby industrial estate. Downstream from Staveley, three mills were associated with the paper industry, with James Cropper PLC now occupying the site of the lower mill, although it no longer utilizes water power. Kendal housed mills serving the woollen industry, and the Helsington mill was the last water-powered snuff mill in the country until its closure in 1991. Further downstream, gunpowder mills, including the extensive ruins of the New Sedgwick gunpowder mill, can still be found within the Low Wood caravan park, owned by the National Trust.Kendal, which the river flows through, has experienced flooding on several occasions. Notable floods occurred in 1898, 1954, and 1968. In response to the 1968 flood, the Lancashire River Authority designed a flood defense scheme implemented between 1972 and 1978. The scheme involved widening and deepening the river between Nether Bridge and Miller Bridge, which required the removal of 310 thousand cubic yards (240,000 m3) of spoil. This material was repurposed as the foundation for a business park. Additionally, a lagoon was constructed north of the town to serve as a gravel trap. Despite these measures, Kendal suffered from flooding again in 2015 when the river's flow exceeded the channel's design capacity. In 2018, the Environment Agency proposed new defense plans to safeguard the town against flooding.The River Kent is designated as a Special Area of Conservation due to its support of endangered white-clawed crayfish populations. It also sustains three types of game fish, and the upper reaches have become crucial for rearing juvenile salmon since fish passes were constructed in 1986 to facilitate fish migration over weirs.The river has played a significant role in providing water power throughout history. Around 1800, wealthy individuals acquired farmland in Kentmere and undertook agricultural improvements. Drainage systems were implemented, and in the 1840s, the Wilsons, residents of Kentmere Hall, drained Kentmere Tarn in an attempt to create fertile agricultural land. While the endeavor was not particularly successful, it had unintended consequences. The drained water-holding bogs, previously acting as natural sponges, would release water steadily into the river, regulating its flow. With the drainage, the river's flow became more unpredictable, negatively impacting the mills.In 1844, a reservoir construction scheme was introduced to regulate the flow of the Kent River and other rivers. A committee of ten mill owners, along with the mayor of Kendal, sought advice from water engineer John Frederick Bateman. The bill received royal assent from Queen Victoria on July 21, 1845, authorizing the construction of five reservoirs. However, only the Kentmere Head reservoir was built, with its completion occurring in 1848.To fund the project and ongoing maintenance, mill owners benefiting from the scheme were levied rates based on the level of water flow through their mill sites. The amount of power that could be derived from a given flow is directly proportional to the fall, making this rate system fair. Only mills with an annual value of £50 or more were subject to rates, while smaller corn mills with fewer than six pairs of stones and Barley Bridge Mill in Staveley were exempt from the rating system.