The town of High Wycombe is not known today for its history of mills and paper making, nor its lace and chair making industries. Instead, this historically rich Buckinghamshire town is probably most well known today for the popular Eden Shopping Centre. But the Eden Centre is hiding an important feature of our town.


The River Wye rises in the Chiltern Hills and flows around 9 miles to High Wycombe, then to Bourne End where it joins the River Thames. There is a long history of water-mills and paper mills being operated in the Wye Valley. Today you can go and visit some of them including the Pann Mill by the Rye in High Wycombe. During the development of the town in the 1960's, a shopping centre was built over the River Wye in the town centre. The development of the Eden centre in 2006 gave hope that the Wye would be uncovered and restored. However, despite the name ‘Eden,’ yet another layer of concrete banished the river to remain underground.

This year the section of the river Wye which runs by the Rye is being revived. These improvements will enhance the wildlife habitats and improve the overall quality of the water in the river. Actions are being taken to keep the river healthy and so that it remains a significant part of the town, but what about the part of the river right in in the town centre, under Eden? Is that fact to be ignored?
Local Eden Centre resident commented: “I would have liked to see them include the river in the development, like in Reading.”

It would seem that for now, High Wycombe will just have to live with the missed opportunity to recuperate one of Buckinghamshire’s most historical rivers.