River Stour, Kent
Overview


The River Stour is the river in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, England that flows into the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 at Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay is a shallow inlet in the English Channel coast at the estuary of the River Stour between Ramsgate and Sandwich in Kent. Situated in the bay is a large nature reserve, known for its migrating waders and wildfowl, with a complete series of seashore habitats including extensive mudflats...

. Above Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter is a small hamlet in Kent, England where the Little Stour and Great Stour rivers meet. During the Middle Ages, the two rivers met the Wantsum Channel at Stourmouth, but the combined rivers now flow onward to the sea via Sandwich to Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate, leaving Plucks Gutter...

, where the Little Stour
Little Stour
The Little Stour is one of the tributaries of the River Stour in the English county of Kent. The upper reaches of the river are better known as the Nailbourne, whilst the lower reaches were once known as the Seaton Navigation....

 joins it, the river is normally known as the Great Stour. The upper section of the river, above its confluence
Confluence (geography)
In geography, a confluence is the meeting of two or more bodies of water. It usually refers to the point where two streams flow together, merging into a single stream...

 with the East Stour at Ashford
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

 is sometimes known as the Upper Great Stour or West Stour.
Encyclopedia


The River Stour is the river in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, England that flows into the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 at Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay is a shallow inlet in the English Channel coast at the estuary of the River Stour between Ramsgate and Sandwich in Kent. Situated in the bay is a large nature reserve, known for its migrating waders and wildfowl, with a complete series of seashore habitats including extensive mudflats...

. Above Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter is a small hamlet in Kent, England where the Little Stour and Great Stour rivers meet. During the Middle Ages, the two rivers met the Wantsum Channel at Stourmouth, but the combined rivers now flow onward to the sea via Sandwich to Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate, leaving Plucks Gutter...

, where the Little Stour
Little Stour
The Little Stour is one of the tributaries of the River Stour in the English county of Kent. The upper reaches of the river are better known as the Nailbourne, whilst the lower reaches were once known as the Seaton Navigation....

 joins it, the river is normally known as the Great Stour. The upper section of the river, above its confluence
Confluence (geography)
In geography, a confluence is the meeting of two or more bodies of water. It usually refers to the point where two streams flow together, merging into a single stream...

 with the East Stour at Ashford
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

 is sometimes known as the Upper Great Stour or West Stour. In the tidal lower reaches, the artificial Stonar Cut short cuts a large loop in the natural river.

The Stour has Kent's second largest catchment area (the River Medway
River Medway
The River Medway, which is almost entirely in Kent, England, flows for from just inside the West Sussex border to the point where it enters the Thames Estuary....

 having the largest). The lower part of the river is tidal; its original mouth was on the Wantsum Channel
Wantsum Channel
The Wantsum Channel is the name given to a now silted-up watercourse separating the Isle of Thanet and what was the mainland of the English county of Kent...

, an important sea route in medieval times. 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 historic city of Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

 is situated on the river, as are the former Cinque Port
Cinque Ports
The Confederation of Cinque Ports is a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes, but is now entirely ceremonial. It lies at the eastern end of the English Channel, where the crossing to the continent is narrowest...

 of Sandwich
Sandwich, Kent
Sandwich is a historic town and civil parish on the River Stour in the Non-metropolitan district of Dover, within the ceremonial county of Kent, south-east England. It has a population of 6,800....

 and the railway town of Ashford
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

. The route of the Stour Valley Walk
Stour Valley Walk
The Stour Valley Walk is a recreational walking route that follows the River Stour, through the Low Weald and Kent Downs, from its source at Lenham to its estuary at Pegwell Bay....

 follows the river.

Course

Upper Great Stour

The source, of what is known at that point as the Great Stour, is near the village of Lenham
Lenham
Lenham is a market village in Kent situated on the southern edge of the North Downs, halfway between Maidstone and Ashford. The picturesque square in the village has two public houses , a couple of restaurants, and a tea-room....

, within a short distance of the River Len, a tributary of the Medway
River Medway
The River Medway, which is almost entirely in Kent, England, flows for from just inside the West Sussex border to the point where it enters the Thames Estuary....

. 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. This part of the river flows through rural countryside, passing the village of Little Chart
Little Chart
Little Chart is a civil parish and small village to the north-east of Ashford in Kent, South East England. The parish has an area of , and a population of 239. Within the parish boundaries are two hamlets: Little Chart Forstal ; and Rooting Street...

, before entering Ashford near Great Chart
Great Chart
Great Chart is a village in civil parish of Great Chart with Singleton in the Ashford District of Kent, England. The parish is split between the ancient village of Great Chart and the modern Singleton housing development, which is part of the western outskirts of Ashford...

.

The confluence with the East Stour, flowing from its source near Hythe
Hythe, Kent
Hythe , is a small coastal market town on the edge of Romney Marsh, in the District of Shepway on the south coast of Kent. The word Hythe or Hithe is an Old English word meaning Haven or Landing Place....

, is to be found at Pledge’s Mill at the bottom of East Hill in Ashford.

Lower Great Stour

The town of Ashford
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

 marks the start of the middle section of the river, sited at a crossing point of the river and on ancient track ways. In Ashford the river helps form part of the Ashford Green Corridor
Ashford Green Corridor
Ashford Green Corridor is a green space that runs through the town of Ashford in Kent, England. The Green Corridor is made up of parks, recreation grounds and other green spaces alongside the rivers that flow through Ashford....

.

After Ashford, the Stour breaches the North Downs
North Downs
The North Downs are a ridge of chalk hills in south east England that stretch from Farnham in Surrey to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. The North Downs lie within two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty , the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs...

; for most of this distance there are no tributaries. After the Brook stream enters from the right there are now 15 miles (24.1 km) to Canterbury. In this stretch the river flows through the villages of Wye, Chilham
Chilham
Chilham is a parish in the English county of Kent. Visited by tourists worldwide, it is known for its beauty. Chilham has been a location for a number of films and television dramas...

 and Chartham
Chartham
Chartham is a village and civil parish in Kent, west of Canterbury.It is located on the Great Stour river which provided power for the paper mills up until some point before 1955. The name literally means ‘Village on rough ground’, and the word "Chart" is also found in other villages in Kent with...

, with Wye being a fordable crossing.

The historic city of Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

 lies at a junction of four Roman roads, where their Watling Street
Watling Street
Watling Street is the name given to an ancient trackway in England and Wales that was first used by the Britons mainly between the modern cities of Canterbury and St Albans. The Romans later paved the route, part of which is identified on the Antonine Itinerary as Iter III: "Item a Londinio ad...

 connected with the sea. Within the city the river flows in two channels, one through the centre of the city, and the other to the north of the city wills. The two channels rejoin to the east of Canterbury, before the river reaches Fordwich
Fordwich
Fordwich is the smallest place in Britain with a town council, having a population of 351 recorded in the 2001 census. It lies in Kent, on the River Stour, northeast of Canterbury....

, a former outport
Outport
Outport is the name given in the United Kingdom for a subsidiary port built in deeper water than the original port. The Port of Tilbury from the Port of London is a good example. Avonmouth and Bristol and, on a smaller and now historical scale, Fordwich and Canterbury are others....

 of Canterbury and the current tidal limit of the river.

Beyond Fordwich, the river passes between several former gravel pit
Gravel pit
Gravel pit is the term for an open cast working for extraction of gravel. Gravel pits often lie in river valleys where the water table is high, so they may fill naturally with water to form ponds or lakes. Old, abandoned gravel pits are normally used either as nature reserves, or as amenity areas...

s and through the reed bed
Reed bed
Reed beds are natural habitats found in floodplains, waterlogged depressions andestuaries. Reed beds are part of a succession from young reed colonising open water or wet ground through a gradation of increasingly dry ground...

s of the Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve lies in the valley of the Great Stour river, between Westbere and Grove Ferry, in the county of Kent, and forms part of the extensive Stodmarsh SSSI...

. Beyond the nature reserve lies the open farmland on the reclaimed marshes surrounding the river crossing at Grove Ferry Picnic Area
Grove Ferry Picnic Area
Grove Ferry is near Upstreet, in Kent, England.This picnic site is maintained and managed by Kent County Council.It is beside the Grove Ferry Public House, built in 1831, ....

, near the hamlet of Upstreet
Upstreet
Upstreet is a village in the civil parish of Chislet in Kent, England. It is in the local government district of Canterbury, and the electoral ward of Marshside....

.

At the hamlet of Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter is a small hamlet in Kent, England where the Little Stour and Great Stour rivers meet. During the Middle Ages, the two rivers met the Wantsum Channel at Stourmouth, but the combined rivers now flow onward to the sea via Sandwich to Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate, leaving Plucks Gutter...

, the second of the large tributaries enters the main river: the 18.9 miles (30.4 km) long Little Stour
Little Stour
The Little Stour is one of the tributaries of the River Stour in the English county of Kent. The upper reaches of the river are better known as the Nailbourne, whilst the lower reaches were once known as the Seaton Navigation....

, which begins life as the spring fed Nailbourne stream. From here on the river is normally known as the River Stour.

River Stour

The twin villages in the parish of Stourmouth
Stourmouth
Stourmouth is a civil parish in the Dover local government district of Kent, England.Its name comes from the fact that, before the Wantsum Channel was cut off from the sea, the village was at the mouth of the River Stour.-Geography:...

 (West and East) mark the original point where the Stour entered the erstwhile Wantsum Channel, a strait
Strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

 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
Sarre Penn
Sarre Penn is a tributary of the River Stour in Kent, England, joining with the River Wantsum near Sarre, where it is known locally as the Fishbourne Stream....

 (named locally as the ‘’Fishbourne Stream’’) enters with the Wantsum Channel.

Here the river turns southwards to the once-thriving port of Sandwich
Sandwich, Kent
Sandwich is a historic town and civil parish on the River Stour in the Non-metropolitan district of Dover, within the ceremonial county of Kent, south-east England. It has a population of 6,800....

, after which it loops back on itself to the north before entering the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 at Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay is a shallow inlet in the English Channel coast at the estuary of the River Stour between Ramsgate and Sandwich in Kent. Situated in the bay is a large nature reserve, known for its migrating waders and wildfowl, with a complete series of seashore habitats including extensive mudflats...

. The Stonar Cut obviates the need for seagoing craft to take the longer route around the loop at Sandwich.

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. 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.

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
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 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.

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 huge volumes of both troops and supplies were needed on the Continent and, in the utmost secrecy, a new port was built at Richborough
Richborough
Richborough is a settlement north of Sandwich on the east coast of the county of Kent, England. Richborough lies close to the Isle of Thanet....

. Landing facilities along the Cut were built, and the East Kent Light Railway
East Kent Light Railway
The East Kent Light Railway was part of the Colonel Stephens group of cheaply built rural light railways in England. Holman Fred Stephens was engineer from its inception, subsequently becoming director and manager...

 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.

Tributaries

Tributary Length Source Confluence
East Stour 10.3 miles (16.6 km) Postling
Postling
Postling village and civil parish is situated near the Roman road of Stone Street, about south of Canterbury, Kent, in South East England. Postlinges is the spelling used in the Domesday Book where it was part of the lands of Hugo de Montsort; Postlinge is also seen in old records. There is much...

Ashford
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

Aylesford Stream
Aylesford Stream
Aylesford Stream is a 5.4 kilometre long tributary of the Great Stour, joining at Pledge’s Mill at the bottom of East Hill in Ashford, Kent, England...

3.4 miles (5.5 km) Sevington
Sevington
Sevington is a small village and civil parish to the south-east of Ashford, Kent in England, with a population of about 113 in 1872, currently 354....

Ashford
Ruckinge Dyke
Ruckinge Dyke
Ruckinge Dyke is a tributary of the Great Stour, joining with the East Stour and then the Great Stour at Pledge’s Mill at the bottom of East Hill in Ashford, Kent, England....

 (a)
4.9 miles (7.9 km) Hamstreet
Hamstreet
Hamstreet is a village in Kent, in South East England.The village is located some 6 miles south of Ashford on the A2070, the main road between Ashford and Hastings...

Willesborough
Willesborough
Willesborough is a residential suburb on the eastern side of Ashford, Kent, England.-The area:The South Willesborough Dykes area, on the west bank of the East Stour river, is an area of sheep fields drained by dykes. The area is designated as the South Willesborough Dykes Site of Nature...

Whitewater Dyke
Whitewater Dyke
Whitewater Dyke is a tributary of the Great Stour river, joining with the East Stour and then the Great Stour at Pledge’s Mill at the bottom of East Hill in Ashford, Kent, England....

 (a)
3.5 miles (5.6 km) Shadoxhurst
Shadoxhurst
Shadoxhurst is civil parish and a village on the Kent Weald, near Ashford in Kent, England located between the North Downs and Romney Marsh in wooded countryside and farmland...

Ashford
Kennington Stream
Kennington Stream
Kennington Stream is a tributary of the Great Stour river in Ashford, Kent, England.The stream runs from its source near Kennington, 2.3 kilometres, past Penlee Point to the Great Stour, joining adjacent to the M20 motorway. -References:...

1.1 miles (1.8 km) Kennington
Kennington, Kent
Kennington is a suburb of Ashford in Kent, England. It is about a mile northeast of the town centre and north of the M20 motorway, and contains the 12th century church, St Mary's. The main A28 Canterbury Road and A251 Faversham Road run through the village...

Ashford
Brook Stream
Brook Stream
Brook Stream is a tributary of the Great Stour river in Ashford, Kent, England.The water can be bright orange at times because of iron deposits....

 (b)
3.8 miles (6.1 km) Brook
Brook, Kent
Brook is a village and civil parish in the Ashford borough of Kent, England, situated about five miles east of Ashford. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 307....

Ashford
Kennington Stream
Kennington Stream
Kennington Stream is a tributary of the Great Stour river in Ashford, Kent, England.The stream runs from its source near Kennington, 2.3 kilometres, past Penlee Point to the Great Stour, joining adjacent to the M20 motorway. -References:...

  (c )
1.4 miles (2.3 km) Kennington Ashford
Little Stour
Little Stour
The Little Stour is one of the tributaries of the River Stour in the English county of Kent. The upper reaches of the river are better known as the Nailbourne, whilst the lower reaches were once known as the Seaton Navigation....

9 miles (14.5 km) Littlebourne
Littlebourne
Littlebourne is a village and civil parish near Canterbury in Kent, South East England.The 13th-century church, St Vincent of Saragossa, is thought to have been founded by the monks of St Augustine's Abbey and contains an ancient wall painting depicting Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers...

Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter
Plucks Gutter is a small hamlet in Kent, England where the Little Stour and Great Stour rivers meet. During the Middle Ages, the two rivers met the Wantsum Channel at Stourmouth, but the combined rivers now flow onward to the sea via Sandwich to Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate, leaving Plucks Gutter...

Nailbourne
Little Stour
The Little Stour is one of the tributaries of the River Stour in the English county of Kent. The upper reaches of the river are better known as the Nailbourne, whilst the lower reaches were once known as the Seaton Navigation....

 (d)
9 miles (14.5 km) Lyminge
Lyminge
Lyminge is a village in southeast Kent, England. It lies about five miles from Folkestone and the Channel Tunnel, on the road passing through the Elham Valley. The Nailbourne stream begins in the village and flows north through the Valley, to become one of the tributary streams of the Great Stour...

Littlebourne
River Wingham
River Wingham
The River Wingham is a tributary of the Little Stour in Kent, England.The river runs from its source near Ash, west, through Wingham to the Little Stour....

 (e)
5 miles (8 km) Ash (near Sandwich)
Ash (near Sandwich)
Ash is a village and civil parish in the Dover district of east Kent about three miles west of Sandwich.The civil parish has a population of 2,767, and includes the villages of Ash, Westmarsh, Ware and Hoaden. The Ash Level, by the River Stour, takes up the northern part of the parish.-History:Ash...

Wickhambreaux
Wickhambreaux
Wickhambreaux is a village, just off the A257 Sandwich Road, five miles from Canterbury in the county of Kent, England, United Kingdom.-History:Wickhambreaux manor was the home of Joan of Kent, wife to Edward Plantagenet, and mother of Richard II...

River Wantsum
River Wantsum
The River Wantsum is a tributary of the River Stour, in Kent, England. Formerly, the River Wantsum and the River Stour together formed the Wantsum Channel, which separated the Isle of Thanet from the mainland of Kent...

6.7 miles (10.8 km) Reculver
Reculver
Reculver is a hamlet and coastal resort situated about east of Herne Bay in southeast England. It is a ward of the City of Canterbury district in the county of Kent. Reculver once occupied a strategic location at the western end of the Wantsum Channel, between the Isle of Thanet and the Kent...

Stourmouth
Stourmouth
Stourmouth is a civil parish in the Dover local government district of Kent, England.Its name comes from the fact that, before the Wantsum Channel was cut off from the sea, the village was at the mouth of the River Stour.-Geography:...

Sarre Penn
Sarre Penn
Sarre Penn is a tributary of the River Stour in Kent, England, joining with the River Wantsum near Sarre, where it is known locally as the Fishbourne Stream....

8.4 miles (13.5 km) Dunkirk
Dunkirk, Kent
Dunkirk is a village and civil parish between Faversham and Canterbury in southeast England.-Toponymy:The origin of the village's name is still not very clear, but it is understood to come from a house called "Dunkirk", lived in by a Fleming from Dunkerque on the border between France and...

Sarre
Sarre, Kent
Sarre is a village and civil parish in Thanet District in Kent, England. The village is a part of St. Nicholas-at-Wade ecclesiastical parish, after having lost the local church of St. Giles in Elizabethan times; the ecclesiastical parishes were subsequently combined. In its own right Sarre is an...

North Stream, Chislet (f) 5.4 miles (8.7 km) Herne
Herne, Kent
Herne is a village in South East England, divided by the Thanet Way from the seaside resort of Herne Bay. Administratively it is in the civil parish of Herne and Broomfield in Kent. Between Herne and Broomfield is the former hamlet of Hunters Forstal; Herne Common lies to the south.The hamlet of...

Reculver
Reculver
Reculver is a hamlet and coastal resort situated about east of Herne Bay in southeast England. It is a ward of the City of Canterbury district in the county of Kent. Reculver once occupied a strategic location at the western end of the Wantsum Channel, between the Isle of Thanet and the Kent...

North and South Streams 6.1 miles (9.8 km) Hacklinge
Hacklinge
Hacklinge is a village near Deal in Kent, England....

 area
Sandwich


Notes
  • (a) tributaries of the East Stour
  • (b) or Spiders Castle Dyke
  • (c) or Pen Lee
  • (d) the upper reaches of the Little Stour; some sections dry much of the time
  • (e) tributary of the Little Stour
  • (f) flows into River Wantsum

History

In Roman and medieval times the river was an important highway, connecting Canterbury with the Continent
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. 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.

Water mills

Man has used the River Stour and its tributaries for centuries as a source of power. Many different processes were performed by the use of water power:- Corn milling, fulling, paper making and electricity generation. Many of the mills survive today as house conversions, with two of them still working commercially.

Communications

Both roads and railways make use of the river. The Watling Street link to Richborough
Richborough
Richborough is a settlement north of Sandwich on the east coast of the county of Kent, England. Richborough lies close to the Isle of Thanet....

 (’’Rutupiae’’) and their link from Canterbury southwards made use of the North Downs gap. The rail links from Canterbury to the Isle of Thanet
Isle of Thanet
The Isle of Thanet lies at the most easterly point of Kent, England. While in the past it was separated from the mainland by the nearly -wide River Wantsum, it is no longer an island ....

 and also to Ashford
Ashford, Kent
Ashford is a town in the borough of Ashford in Kent, England. In 2005 it was voted the fourth best place to live in the United Kingdom. It lies on the Great Stour river, the M20 motorway, and the South Eastern Main Line and High Speed 1 railways. Its agricultural market is one of the most...

, and the main A28 road
A28 road
The A28 is a trunk road in southern England. It runs south-west from the seaside resort of Margate in Kent via Westgate and Birchington, reaching open countryside at Sarre. The road continues via Upstreet and Hersden to Sturry, and on to the cathedral city of Canterbury...

 follow identical routes.

The 51.5 mile (82.4 km) Stour Valley Walk
Stour Valley Walk
The Stour Valley Walk is a recreational walking route that follows the River Stour, through the Low Weald and Kent Downs, from its source at Lenham to its estuary at Pegwell Bay....

 follows the river for much of its length.

Fishing

The Great Stour estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 at Plucks Gutter and Grove Ferry is renowned for its coarse fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, particularly bream stocks.

Flooding

The lower-lying parts of Canterbury have in the past been particularly prone to flooding . The River Stour (Kent) Internal Drainage Board has the responsibility of reducing that risk in the river catchment area

Environment

In 2006, male
Male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...

 fish were found with signs of "feminisation" after having been exposed to treated sewage
Wastewater
Wastewater is any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influence. It comprises liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial properties, industry, and/or agriculture and can encompass a wide range of potential contaminants and concentrations...

 effluent
Effluent
Effluent is an outflowing of water or gas from a natural body of water, or from a human-made structure.Effluent is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “wastewater - treated or untreated - that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers...

 in the river near Ashford. It was found that oestrogen
Estrogen
Estrogens , oestrogens , or œstrogens, are a group of compounds named for their importance in the estrous cycle of humans and other animals. They are the primary female sex hormones. Natural estrogens are steroid hormones, while some synthetic ones are non-steroidal...

 enters the river when the nearby Bybrook sewage works discharges its end product.

In 2009, Southern Water
Southern Water
Southern Water is the utility responsible for wastewater collection and treatment in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent, and for water supply and distribution in the approximately half of this area...

started work on a £4.2 million environmental improvement project at its Lenham treatment works to ensure wastewater is treated to higher standards. New reed beds, containing more than 7,500 reeds, will help clean up to 4.3 million litres of wastewater from more than 3,600 people each day.
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