River Stour, Worcestershire

River Stour, Worcestershire

name = River Stour
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region = Worcestershire | region_type = Counties
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The Stour is a river flowing through the counties of Worcestershire and Staffordshire in the West Midlands region of England. The Stour is a major tributary of the River Severn, and it is about 25 miles in length. The river-name "Stour", very common in England, does not occur at all in Wales; [O.G.S. Crawford, "Celtic place-names in England", "The Archaeological Journal" (British Archaeological Association) 2nd ser. 27 1920:144; Crawford noted two tributaries of the Po River near Turin, spelled "Sture".] it is of ambiguous origin: recently [Richard Coates, "Stour and Blyth as English river-names" "English Language and Linguistics" 10 Cambridge University Press (2006:23-29).] it has been suggested that an Old European river-name was taken for an Old English adjective.


For a short section north of Stourbridge, the Stour marks the boundary, between the historic counties of Staffordshire and Worcestershire.

In the 1660s and 1670s, Andrew Yarranton attempted to make the river Stour itself navigable along much of its course. But these efforts were finally abandoned around 1680, when funds were exhausted. It is doubtful whether it would have been a profitable enterprise, had it succeeded.

At Wilden a short section of the Stour, of about a mile, was successfully made navigable but because of all the bends it is recorded that it was not easy to navigate. There was a lock at Pratt's Wharf (mis-named Platt's Wharf by the Ordnance Survey) connecting the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal with the river. This enabled canal barges to use the River Stour to deliver timber to a steam saw-mill in Wilden. Later it was used to transport coal and iron to the Wilden Works. The wharf was built by Isaac Pratt from Henwick, Worcester in 1835. He is described as a businessman and a merchant. There were two houses at Pratt's Wharf, one occupied by a lock keeper and the other by a clerk. The link was closed c1950. [Stourport-on-Severn Civic Society. Newsletter No 41. June 2005. ]

Mills on the river Stour were important in the early industrial development of the area. They included fulling mills for cloth industries of Kinver, Worcester and Kidderminster, and from the 17th century iron forges and slitting mills, which cut bars of iron into rods for the production of nails.

From Stourton Junction (near Prestwood), the Stourbridge Canal led to Stourbridge, while branches led towards collieries near Brierley Hill and linked to the Dudley Canal. These were all built in the late 18th century.

The magnificent Stambermill Viaduct carries the what was the former Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway line over the Stour between Stourbridge and Lye. It now is only used by goods trains.


The river rises in the north of Worcestershire in the Clent Hills, near St Kenelm's Church in Romsley. It flows north into the adjacent West Midlands at Halesowen, before it flows westwards through Cradley Heath and Stourbridge.

After leaving Stourbridge and entering Staffordshire at Stourton, the Stour is joined by the Smestow Brook at Prestwood before it winds around southwards to Kinver, and then flows back into Worcestershire. It then passes through Wolverley, Kidderminster and Wilden to join the River Severn at Stourport.

The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal runs beside the Stour from Prestwood southwards.


The Stour was once a trout stream, but became severely polluted with chemicals that were released into it by industries along its banks, particularly acid from the holloware industry of Lye. In the final decades of the 20th century, this pollution ceased, and the river was cleaned up. Nowadays, wildlife is making a comeback in the Stour with Kingfishers and Grey Heron present, as well as recent reports of salmon and trout beginning to recolonise as far as Stourbridge.


External links

* [http://www.stourbridge.com/htm/stour.htm "In Search of the Stour"]

ee also

*Rivers of the United Kingdom

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