River Mersey
Overview
 
The River Mersey is a river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 in North West England
North West England
North West England, informally known as The North West, is one of the nine official regions of England.North West England had a 2006 estimated population of 6,853,201 the third most populated region after London and the South East...

. It is around 70 miles (113 km) long, stretching from Stockport
Stockport
Stockport is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on elevated ground southeast of Manchester city centre, at the point where the rivers Goyt and Tame join and create the River Mersey. Stockport is the largest settlement in the metropolitan borough of the same name...

, Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 2.6 million. It encompasses one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom and comprises ten metropolitan boroughs: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the...

, and ending at Liverpool Bay
Liverpool Bay
Liverpool Bay is a bay of the Irish Sea between northeast Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside to the east of the Irish Sea. The bay is a classic example of a region of freshwater influence...

, Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

. For centuries, it formed part of the ancient county divide
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

 between Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

 and Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

.
The Mersey is formed from three tributaries
Tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

: the River Etherow
River Etherow
The River Etherow is a river in northern England, and a tributary of the River Goyt. Although now passing through South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester, it historically formed the ancient county boundary between Cheshire and Derbyshire. The upper valley is known as Longdendale...

, the River Goyt, and the River Tame
River Tame, Greater Manchester
The River Tame flows through Greater Manchester, England.-Source:The Tame rises on Denshaw Moor in Greater Manchester, close to the border with West Yorkshire but within the historic West Riding of Yorkshire.-Course:...

. The modern accepted start of the Mersey is at the confluence of the Tame and Goyt, in central Stockport
Stockport
Stockport is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on elevated ground southeast of Manchester city centre, at the point where the rivers Goyt and Tame join and create the River Mersey. Stockport is the largest settlement in the metropolitan borough of the same name...

, Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 2.6 million. It encompasses one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom and comprises ten metropolitan boroughs: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the...

. However, older definitions, and many older maps, place its start a few miles up the Goyt; for example the 1911 Encyclop√¶dia Britannica states "It is formed by the junction of the Goyt and the Etherow a short distance below Marple
Marple, Greater Manchester
Marple is a small town within the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the River Goyt southeast of Stockport.Historically part of Cheshire, Marple has a population of 23,480 .-Toponymy:...

 in Cheshire on the first-named stream." The 1784 John Stockdale map shows the River Mersey extending to Mottram, and forming the boundary between Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

 and Derbyshire
Derbyshire
Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains within its boundary of approx...

.

From Stockport it flows through Didsbury
Didsbury
Didsbury is a suburban area of the City of Manchester, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Mersey, south of Manchester city centre, in the southern half of the Greater Manchester Urban Area...

, Northenden
Northenden
Northenden is a suburban area and electoral ward of the city of Manchester in North West England. It lies on the south side of both the River Mersey and the M60 motorway, west of Stockport and south of Manchester city centre. Northenden is bounded by the districts of Didsbury, Gatley and...

, Stretford
Stretford
Stretford is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, in Greater Manchester, England. Lying on flat ground between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, it is to the southwest of Manchester city centre, south-southwest of Salford and northeast of Altrincham...

, Urmston
Urmston
Urmston is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of around 41,000. Historically a part of Lancashire, it lies about six miles to the southwest of Manchester city centre. The southern boundary is marked by the River Mersey and the...

 and Flixton
Flixton, Greater Manchester
Flixton is a village and electoral ward within the Urmston area of the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford in Greater Manchester, England. It lies about six miles to the southwest of Manchester city centre, within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire.Flixton's present-day population is...

, then at Irlam
Irlam
Irlam is a suburban town and unparished area within the City of Salford in Greater Manchester, England. At the 2001 census it had a population of 18,504. The town lies on flat ground on the south side of the M62 motorway and the north bank of the Manchester Ship Canal, and is west-southwest of...

 it flows into the Manchester Ship Canal
Manchester Ship Canal
The Manchester Ship Canal is a river navigation 36 miles long in the North West of England. Starting at the Mersey Estuary near Liverpool, it generally follows the original routes of the rivers Mersey and Irwell through the historic counties of Cheshire and Lancashire. Several sets of locks lift...

, which is the canalised River Irwell
River Irwell
The River Irwell is a long river which flows through the Irwell Valley in the counties of Lancashire and Greater Manchester in North West England. The river's source is at Irwell Springs on Deerplay Moor, approximately north of Bacup, in the parish of Cliviger, Lancashire...

 to this point.
 
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