11ft sinkhole opens up off Hadleigh footpath at old mill race

The footpath and bridge at the end of Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh has been fenced off due to subsidance

The footpath and bridge at the end of Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh has been fenced off due to subsidence, which is the sudden sinking or gradual downward settling of the ground's surface. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A footbridge in Hadleigh has been fenced off after an 11ft sinkhole was discovered off a footpath near the River Brett.

The 11ft hole was discovered along a footpath in Tinkers Lane, Hadleigh, with a contractor from Babergh District Council (BDC) finding a deep depression in the ground and another collapse beneath the surface.

The footpath and bridge at the end of Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh has been fenced off due to subsidance

The footpath and bridge at the end of Tinkers Lane in Hadleigh has been fenced off due to the sinkhole appearing. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Hadleigh Town Council said this was an 11ft deep void with the lower seven feet full of water.

The voids were established to be on the line of the old mill race from Toppesfield Mill, which was demolished in the 1950s following a fire. 

A mill race, also known as a millrun, is the current of water that turns a water wheel, or the channel (sluice) conducting water to or from a water wheel.

A spokesman for the town council said: "It looked as if the former water channel had been eroding away for years without any visible signs.

"Babergh District Council has appointed contractors to investigate further to find how to safely restore the ground.

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"However, it is not going to be a quick fix and this area and the footpath through to Benton Street will need to be closed for a while."

Frank Minns, mayor of Hadleigh, urged residents to download the NHS app and "redouble" efforts to pr

Frank Minns, the mayor of Hadleigh, said the discovery of the sinkhole could lead to a long closure of the footpath off Tinkers Lane, Hadleigh. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Frank Minns, mayor of Hadleigh, said an inspection by Babergh District Council found the area to be too dangerous, hence the footpath closure. 

He said "it is all going wrong" at the river, with a further bridge fenced off at the new McCarthy & Stone development and the water levels the lowest he has seen them. 

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said as soon as it was alerted to the sinkhole, workers cordoned off the area so they could investigate and excavate safely.

“It seems that the sinkhole is in line with the former mill cut for the old Toppesfield Mill, and brickwork is exposed that we believe is part of the old mill race," a spokesman said. 

“Tinkers Lane between Benton Street and the football ground end of the bridge is now closed to allow works to begin.  

"As there is likely to be significant work involved, the path may be closed for some time, but we need to ensure we support the heritage of this find, at the same time as making the area safe again.”

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