History and Heritage - The River Mole
The River Mole is one of the most beautiful features of Leatherhead. It flows from the borders with Sussex through the Mole Gap, one of the few breaks in the North Downs, past the precipitous slopes below Box Hill towards Leatherhead.
Once it has arrived in the town it divides to create a series of islands that provide habitat for many birds, plants and insects. Kingfishers are a common sight on the river, but nearly 50 other species of bird have been recorded along this stretch of the river.
The more natural condition of the river today belies its earlier, more formal landscaping as part of the estate of Thorncroft Manor. The small Shell Bridge linking two of the islands is a survival of a more formal landscape attributed to 'Capability' Brown, although the evidence for this is circumstantial.
The Shell Bridge is one of three listed bridges on the town stretch of the river. The most picturesque is the 14 arch bridge built in 1784 to enlarge and rebuild an earlier medieval bridge. It still provides a vital road and pedestrian link into the town from the south and west.