Facts About the River Mersey ( UK )

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The River Mersey rises in the Pennine Mountains of central England and makes it's way westward for 70 miles before joining the Irish Sea, linking with the Manchester Ship Canal at the confluence of the River Irwell along the way.

The River Mersey's 4,680 square kilometer basin is situated at Liverpool Bay on the Irish Sea and has a 5 mile wide estuary that narrows to 0.7 miles wide between the city of Liverpool on it's east bank and the town of Birkenhead on it's west bank, an area known in shipping circles as the Atlantic Gateway.

Due to this sudden narrowing of the river that is situated on a deep channel that experiences Britain's second and the world's fourth highest tidal range - 13 foot high neap tides and 32 foot high spring tides, a phenomena known as the Mersey Bore - the River Mersey was chosen as the location for Britain's largest, deep water port in 1717, a 7.5 mile area of docklands, wharfs and jetties.

During the 18th century Liverpool's Mersey Docks became Britain's busiest port, where it led the field in the transportation of Cheshire salt, Lancashire coal and textiles, Staffordshire pottery, Birmingham metal wares and Welsh sheep. It also became a leading port in the transportation of spices and bananas into the country and an important transit port during the years of the Slave Trade.

The River Mersey was also the first place in Britain to have systematic tidal records logged, when harbor master William Hutchinson began the trend between the years of 1768 - 1793.


            The River Mersey looking towards the City of Liverpool from the town of Birkenhead.

                                            Image courtesy of BenKid77, wikimedia commons. 

The name Mersey is an Anglo Saxon word which means boundary, as the river was for many centuries, the county line that divided the two English counties of Cheshire and Lancashire.

This muddy, coloured river that gives the city of Liverpool it's name - liver coloured pool of water - traverses through the Lancashire towns of Stockport and Salford and the Cheshire towns of Runcorn, Warrington and Widnes and is joined by 23 tributaries, 16 small brooks and the rivers, Etherow, Irwell, Bollin, Goyt, Tame, Gowy and Weaver.

The river links with 3 canal systems along it's route, The Manchester Ship Canal, The Trent and Mersey Canal and The Sankey Canal. The river once linked with the Bridgewater Canal but was cut off after the building of the Silver Jubilee Bridge at Runcorn in 1961.

The river is crossed by three tunnels, 2 road and 1 rail, and the Mersey Ferry between the city of Liverpool and the town of Birkenhead,1 road and 1 rail bridge linking the Cheshire towns of Runcorn and Widnes and the grade II listed Bridgewater Canal Aqueduct at Stretford which was built in 1761. 


                                                       The Silver Jubilee Bridge at Runcorn.

                                                 Image courtesy of Dave Curry, wikimedia commons. 

In recent years as the Mersey became less used for industry and more importantly recognised as a place of environmental interest, the river has seen a rise in stocks of Salmon, Trout, Atlantic Grey Seals and even Porpoise in it's now much cleaner waters.

An area around the Port of Liverpool is also home to the 30 acre Seaforth Nature Reserve, a haven of freshwater and saltwater lagoons that house a myriad of sea and wading birds.

Other areas of interest along the river's 70 mile route are the City of Liverpool, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Otterspool Country Park, the Wirral Peninsula, The Spaceport Centre,  Birkenhead, Liverpool's Albert Dock, Manchester Ship Canal Tours, Salford Quays,  Manchester, home of the Lowrie Centre and The British War Museum, The Wirral Peninsula resort of New Brighton and the Silver Jubilee Bridge at Runcorn. 


                        The River Mersey joins the Manchester Ship Canal at Salford Quays. 

                                          Image courtesy of Clem Rutter, wikimedia commons. 

The River Mersey is considered sacred by British Hindus, who hold the river in the same esteem as they do the sacred River Ganges in India.

The river is home to several local yachting and rowing clubs including the Liverpool Yacht Club and the Royal Mersey Yacht Club, which regularly hold regattas and other events upon the river, throughout the year.

The Mersey is also home to an annual, international Tall Ships Race, which attracts visitors in it's millions on both the east and west banks of the river.

On the 1st of April 1974 the former borough of Wirral in the county of Cheshire and the metropolitan areas of Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens in the county of Lancashire were amalgamated into the area now collectively known as Merseyside.


                                                                 The area of Merseyside.







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