Trent River - Encyclopedia

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TRENT, the chief river in the midlands of England, the third in length in the country, exceeded only by the Thames and Severn. It rises in the north of Staffordshire, and discharges through the Humber into the North Sea, having a course of about 170 m., and a drainage area of 4052 sq. m. The source is on Biddulph Moor, which rises to a height of I roo ft. The course of the river is at first southerly, and it skirts the manufacturing district of the Potteries, passing Stoke-upon-Trent. Immediately below this town the valley widens, and the fall of the river, from a point 15 m. from the source to the mouth, is only 338 ft. Passing Stone, the course becomes south-easterly, and the united waters of the Sow and the Penk are received on the right. Near Rugeley the direction becomes easterly, and near Alrewas the Trent receives the Tame on the right, and turns to the north-east. Much of the valley above this point is well wooded and picturesque, though the flanking hills are gently sloping, and of no great elevation. The river now passes Burton-upon-Trent, in this part of its course forming the boundary between Staffordshire and Derbyshire. The fall from Burton to the mouth, a distance of 109 m., is 148 ft. The valley opens out as the stream, dividing into several channels at Burton and receiving on the left the Dove, enters Derbyshire. It then separates that county from Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, receives in quick succession the Derwent (left), Soar (right) and Erewash (left), enters Nottinghamshire, and passes Nottingham, 814 m. from the mouth. The next important town is Newark, which, however, the main channel of the river passes at a considerable distance to the west; the Devon joins here on the right, and the fall from this point to the mouth, a distance of 572 m., is only 18 ft. The valley becomes flat, though the river is rather deeply entrenched in some parts. Forming the boundary between Nottingham and Lincolnshire, the Trent passes Gainsborough (262 m. from the mouth), receives the Idle on the left, and, entering Lincolnshire and skirting the Isle of Axholme, joins the Yorkshire Ouse near Faxfleet. The lower part of the valley resembles the Fens in character, and is drained by many artificial channels. The northward turn at Newark is of interest inasmuch as it is considered that the river from this point formerly flowed towards Lincoln, and, following a depression in the escarpment there, passed down the valley at present occupied by the Witham to the Wash. It is suggested that the waters were diverted to the Humber by a stream within that system cutting back southward and tapping the Trent in the vicinity of Newark; and in high flood the Trent has been known to send water across the low parting to the Witham (see Avebury, Scenery of England, ch. xi.). The highest tides are felt about 40 m. up river, and the phenomenon of an "eagre" (bore or tidal wave) is seen rising on spring tides to a height of 4 or 5 ft., 15 m. above the mouth of the river.

The Trent is navigable for a distance of 944 m. from its junction with the Ouse, to a point a short distance above the junction of the Derwent, the Trent Navigation Company having a general control of the navigation down to Gainsboiough, the line of which passes through Nottingham by canals. On the river itself there are eight locks. Below Gainsborough the navigation is open, and vessels drawing 9 ft. can reach this point on spring tides. From the Derwent mouth the Trent and Mersey Canal follows the Trent valley upward, and gives connexion with the entire inland navigation system of the midlands and west of England. Short canals give access to Derby and the Erewash valley; the Leicester Navigation, following the Soar, connects with the Grand Junction canal; and the Grantham Canal carriesa little traffic between that town and Nottingham. The Fossdyke, distinguished as the oldest navigable waterway still in use in England, as it was originally of Roman construction, connects the Trent with Lincoln and the Witham, and lower down the Sheffield and South Yorkshire canal joins the river from the west at Keadby. There is also a canal, little used, to Chesterfield.

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