Facts About the River Trent ( UK )

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The River Trent is the United Kingdom's third longest river at 185 miles long.

The river rises on Biddulph Moor in the county of Staffordshire and flows northwards towards the Humber Estuary, where it meets with the River Ouse at an area called the Trent Falls, before flowing on into the North Sea.

The River Trent is unique for being both Britain's only north flowing river and for being Britain's most historically important trading river.

Looking at a map of the course of the River Trent is akin to taking a study of Britain's Industrial Revolution, as one charts it's route through the industrial heartlands of the English Midlands making it's way through the great industrial towns and cities of Stoke - on - Trent, Nottingham, Derby, Burton and Newark.

For half of its route the River Trent is freshwater and non tidal, but after passing through the town of Newark in Nottingham, the River becomes non navigable, northwards flowing and tidal.

During the month of September the river is the location of Britain's third largest tidal bore, The Trent Aegir or Trent Bore that can rise to over five feet high.

The river's name comes from a Celtic word which means strong flood, a name which was probably attributed to the aftermath of it's annual tidal bore, which would have caused great floods along it's tidal route, particularly on the low lying lands of the county of Lincolnshire.

The river was for centuries considered the ancient north / south divide of England and was known as Trisantona in Roman times.

The river connects with 42 tributaries along its route, including the Rivers Derwent, Dove, Soar and Tame.

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, during the 1770's, the river became linked to six canal systems, including the Trent and Mersey Canal, The Bridgewater Canal and The Nottingham Canal.

The river is crossed by way of 81 bridges, including Britain's longest, stone bridge - The Swarkestone Bridge - a one mile long, 13th century, 17 arched, local stone built bridge, which is now a Grade 1 listed building, situated 6 miles north of the city of Derby.

Along with the building of the canal system, the River Trent's riverbanks were also chosen to house the sites of 13 beautifully constructed, industrial power stations -  most of them no longer in use - pumping engines, locks and weirs, all of which still remain as a testament to the river's industrial history. The riverbanks in recent years however, have been chosen for the sites of  7 national Nature Reserves and country parks ,  that between them, cover over 1,000 acres of prime riverside and estuary land, which include the 474 acre  Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve in Yorkshire, and the 360 acre Attenborough Gravel Pits wildlife reserve in Nottinghamshire.


                                                           THE TRENT CATCHMENT / BASIN.

The river passes through the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire, an area known as the Trent Basin or Trent Catchment.

These counties make up the area of Britain known as the Industrial Heartlands, where these counties were once synonymous with the manufacture of pottery, silk, lace, woolen textiles, coal, beer and footwear.

Along with this maelstrom of factories and the river's power stations and canal systems, the area contained within the Trent Basin became the most important, major trading route and transportation hub in Britain for over one hundred years, from the late 1700's until the early 1900's.

The river became a victim of its own success, being the main reason for the great townships and large industrial areas that sprang up along its route, leading to the river and it's surrounding area becoming the most heavily polluted in the country.

The area around the city of Stoke - on - Trent was particularly problematic, owing to the town's industrial slums, the large volumes of choking, smoke emissions from the area's 400 plus bottleneck kilns and large volumes of factory pollutants, including lead that leaked into the river from the biscuit factories of the Staffordshire Potteries.

The canal system that linked to the river was also problematic owing to the large amounts of people who both worked and lived their entire lives on the canals, leading to large amounts of all types of debris being dumped into the river and canals on a daily basis. 


                                          Image courtesy of Insignia3, wikimedia commons. 

A now clean and pollutant free River Trent makes it's way majestically through the City of Nottingham, passing under the city's famous historical landmark, Trent Bridge.

Thankfully, both the river and the area along the Trent Valley has now been extensively cleaned up and is home to lush, rolling countryside, large recreational areas, heritage centres, nature reserves and a myriad of historic market towns, pretty villages and the charming cities of Stoke - on - Trent, Nottingham, Lichfield and Derby.

The river is also home to over 30 species of fish, including carp, chub and bream, a sure sign that all is well within the waters of the river and canal's, which means that the mighty River Trent, after decades of pollution and neglect, can now resume the task with which it was originally intended, to irrigate the lush, green fields and rolling hills of middle England. 







Jerry Walch
Posted on Mar 23, 2011
Ron Siojo
Posted on Mar 23, 2011