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The river Leen rises on the slopes of the Forest of Kirkby. A number of springs which issue on the south side, when joined to the waters from Hollin Well, flow in a meandering course almost due southward. The watercourse's name is a corruption through various renderings of the Celtic word Llyn for lake or pool, and 'hlynna' = streamlet. The distance from source to confluence is not more than ten miles as the crow flies. Perhaps no other stream of equal size attracted so much attention as did the Leen in mediaeval days. It formed the western boundary of the King's great Forest of Nottingham, or 'Shirewood'; it fed the 'fish-stews,' and supplied the domestic needs of two important monasteries, and a Royal Castle; while on its banks stood a succession of mills, at one time numbering more than 20; for although the fall of the valley is gentle, the volume of the flow is sufficient to turn a 'breast-wheel' or an 'undershot' mill-wheel. Initially these mills were chiefly used for grinding corn. In the 18th century when the linen and cotton industry flourished in this district, many old corn mills were converted into cotton mills, and new mills were established in villages such as Papplewick. The advent of steam-power wrought great changes, in 1785 James Watt set up the first steam engine at Papplewick, built by him for the Robinsons. This was the 1st steam powered engine in the world to power a cotton mill. As a consequence the mill-ponds and races became neglected; the mill-wheels, save in one or two instances, ceased to revolve, and the buildings were either pulled down or converted to other uses. One mile from its source the stream entered the demesne of a monastery of Royal foundation, the Augustinian Priory of Newstead. Issuing from there, and passing Papplewick on the left bank and Linby (Leen-by) on the right bank, it reaches the ancient Forge mill about midway between Hucknall and Bulwell, when it becomes the northern boundary of the extended city of Nottingham. The lower half of the course skirts the ragged edges of the city of Nottingham, and for many years in the past the stream was polluted and befouled with refuse from numerous bleach-yards and dye-works. Although the stream now has recovered its former clearness. On the banks of this lower half of the stream, situated about equi-distance from each other, were four 'villages' which are now merged into the suburbs of Greater Nottingham. Each of these villages derived its name from its contiguity to the stream. Bulwell: from the 'bulling' or 'bubbling' well which issues from the Bunter Sandstone on the 'forest waste' to join the waters of Leen. Basford: either the ford near the home of Bassa (Bassa's ford) or 'le bas ford' the lower ford. Radford or (Rede ford): from the fact of the red sandstone in the banks; and Lenton: (Leen-ton). Beyond Lenton the original course ran through the meadows in a direct line southward to its confluence with the Trent at Wilford, until in due time an artificial channel was made for it to turn eastward in order to bring a supply of water to the Town and Castle of Nottingham. In the loop formed by this deviation, and within view of the Castle, a great Priory of the Clugniac Order was built by William Peverel (c. 1105.) the Norman lord of the district. From this time water from the Leen was used by early industries such as tanning, dying and brewing, particularly beneath Castle rock. Today the river runs through culverts to join the River Trent near Trent Bridge.