River Gowy

River Gowy

name = River Gowy
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country = England

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region = Cheshire
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source_location = near Peckforton
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source_region = Cheshire
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source_country = England
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mouth_location = confluence with River Mersey
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mouth_region = Cheshire
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mouth_country = England
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The River Gowy is a river in Cheshire, England, and a tributary of the River Mersey.

It rises in western Cheshire in the hills near Peckforton Castle, very close to the source of the River Weaver. While the Weaver flows south initially, the Gowy flows north and for several miles provides the valley used by the Shropshire Union Canal. It runs just to the east of Chester and passes through a syphon under the Manchester Ship Canal to meet the Mersey near Stanlow. Its total length is around convert|20|mi|km|0.

Perennially popular with fishermen and home to several rare insects, it has suffered from pollution in its lower reaches in recent decades, due in part to the oil refinery at Stanlow and the arrival of the nearby M53 and M56 motorways, leading to schemes by environmental groups to clean up the area and to restock the fish population.

The recently established 'Gowy Marshes' that stretches from the A5117 to the M56, is an area of river valley peat covered with wet grassland or grazing meadows. This area of convert|160|ha|acre|0|lk=on, owned by Shell UK, has been created as a nature reserve by Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Surveys by the Environment Agency show that the Gowy's eel population has held up well despite a Europe-wide massive decline in numbers. The reasons for this are unclear but local anglers suggest that eel in the river may not follow normal migration patterns because of the partially closed nature of the river flow caused by the system of syphoning under the ship canal.

At one time the river provided power for up to 20 watermills. Today only a few remain: Bates Mill (in private ownership), Bunbury Mill and Trafford Mill. The latter two are owned by United Utilities plc. Bunbury Mill is open to the public during summer months. Trafford Mill is being developed as a museum.

The river's length has been increased over the centuries as land has been reclaimed by draining the marshes. It was on the marshes at Gibbet’s Field near Mickle Trafford that James Brown and Thomas Price were hanged in January 1795 for the abduction and robbery of a mail boy.

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