Friday, 24 July 2009

River Stour

River Stour

River Stour at Canterbury

The River Stour (pronounced /ˈstaʊr/ or /ˈstʊər/) is the generic name for a group of rivers in Kent, England.
The Stour has Kent's second largest catchment area (the River Medway having the largest). Both Ashford and Canterbury are situated on it.

The lower half of the river is tidal; its original mouth was on the Wantsum Channel, an important sea route in medieval times.

Map showing Wantsum Channel and Watling Street

The river has three major tributaries, and many minor ones for much of its length it and flows in a generally south-west to north-east direction.
The River Stour in Kent is pronounced /ˈstaʊr/
(rhymes with sour), whereas the River Stour in Suffolk is pronounced /ˈstʊər/ (rhymes with poor).

Course of the river

Kent Towns and Rivers

The Great Stour at its source, Lenham

The source, of what is known at that point as the Great Stour, is near Lenham, within a short distance of the River Len, a tributary of the Medway. That source is on the Greensand ridge and at first the river flows along the Low Weald valley at the foot of the ridge in a southeastward direction: three small streams enter from the north, having their headwaters on the ridge, before reaching a point where the river turns to the north east.

East Stour River Source Greensands near Hythe

The town of Ashford marks the start of the middle section of the river, and the point where the several tributaries enter, the largest of which is the East Stour river from its source near Hythe.

North Downs (Weald)

Now the Stour breaches the North Downs; for most of this distance there are no tributaries. After the Brook stream enters from the right there is now fifteen miles (24 km) to Canterbury, where the river flows past the north end of the city. Fordwich, three miles (4.8 km) further still, is the upper limit to which tides reach.
Beyond Fordwich, at the hamlet of Plucks Gutter,TR 26943 63444 51°19′29″N 1°15′21″E / 51.32480°N 1.25590°E / 51.32480; 1.25590 the second of the large tributaries enters the main river: the 18.9 mile (30.2 km)

River Nailbourne

River Little Stour , which begins life as the springfed Nailbourne Stream. The twin villages in the parish of Stourmouth (West and East) mark the original point where the Stour entered the erstwhile Wantsum Channel, a strait used for hundreds of years until silting and land reclamation turned the sea channel into a large drainage ditch. At this point the third large tributary, the 8.4 mile (13.4 km) Sarre Penn (named locally as the ‘’Fishbourne Stream’’) enters with the Wantsum Channel.

Map showing the Straights of Dover

Here the river turns southwards and, after making a loop to take it in a northward direction, it enters the Strait of Dover at Pegwell Bay. The Stonar Cut obviates the need for seagoing craft to take the longer route around the loop.

Pegwell Bay

From the tidal limit at Fordwich to the sea the river is fringed with marshes. Most of them are located on what was the floor of the Wantsum Channel, whilst those to the south lie behind the sand dunes of the Sandwich Flats.

Marshes at Minnis Bay

These marshes are criss-crossed with drainage ditches. The principal marshes are those of Chislet, within the ancient estuary of the river; Wade, west of Birchington; and Ash Level.

The Stonar Cut
In the mid-18th century it became necessary to alleviate the problem of flooding along the lower course of the Stour. The action of tidal drift of shingle along the coast had resulted in the huge loop at the estuary end of the river, and on 29 November 1774 an Act of Parliament was passed to bypass the loop at it narrowest end, at Stonar. The works, to become known as the Stonar Cut, made use of an existing sluice to cut across the neck of the loop, and were completed in 1776.

Richborough, one of the starting points on Watling Street in Roman period

During World War I huge volumes of both troops and supplies were needed on the Continent and, in the utmost secrecy, a new port was built at Richborough. Landing facilities along the Cut were built, and the East Kent Light Railway was extended to service the port. Nothing now remains of much of those works, and the Cut has been allowed to return to its natural state.


A branch of the Stour flows through Canterbury, here it passes Blackfriars

Settlements on the river vary in size. The four most important are Ashford, sited at a crossing point of the river and on ancient track ways; Canterbury, at a junction of four Roman roads, where their Watling Street connected with the sea; Fordwich, the outport of Canterbury and tidal limit; and the once-thriving port of Sandwich. The villages of Wye, Chilham and Chartham lie on the stretch through the North Downs gap, Wye being a fordable crossing. Beyond Fordwich are the smaller settlements of Westbere and Chislet; and Stourmouth.

In Roman and medieval times the river was an important highway, connecting Canterbury with the Continent. Fordwich became important to shipping after the silting up of the southern entrance to the English Channel.
In 1831 Joseph Priestley wrote his ‘’Historical Account of the Navigable Rivers, Canals and Railways’’. In it he described in one section the ‘’Canterbury Navigation, or River Stour’’. He includes an account of its course and the improvements being carried out at that time to assist navigation, and details of new port facilities.

Both roads and railways make use of the river. The Watling Street link to Richborough (’’Rutupiae’’) and their link from Canterbury southwards made use of the North Downs gap. The rail links from Canterbury to the Isle of Thanet and also to Ashford, and the main A28 road follow identical routes.
The 51.5 mile (82.4 km) Stour Valley Walk follows the river for much of its length.

Tributaries of the River Stour
River Upper Great Stour - flowing from near Lenham to Ashford.
RiverEast Stour - rising near Hythe to Ashford.

River Stour at Hyde

River Great Stour - Ashford to north west of Canterbury.
River Little Stour - north of Hythe to join the Great Stour at Plucks Gutter, north west of Canterbury.
River Wantsum - part of the old Wantsum Channel separating the Isle of Thanet from Kent. Whitewater Dyke - running from Shadoxhurst to Ashford Ruckinge Dyke - from north of Hamstreet to Ashford Aylesford Stream - its source is north of Sevington to Willesborough

River Dour
A minor river from Temple Ewell to Dover
The River Dour is a river in the county of Kent, in England. It flows from the villages of Temple Ewell and River, through the village of Kearsney, to Dover.
It originally had a wide estuary on the site of modern Dover, used as a port for the Roman town, but this silted up in the medieval period, necessitating the construction of various artificial harbours for Dover instead.

River Brede is an English river in East Sussex. It flows into the Rock Channel (tidal section of the River Tillingham) and then onto the River Rother (Eastern) at Rye, Sussex. It gives its name to the village of Brede, which lies between Hastings and Tenterden.

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