The River Mersey is a river in North West
England. It is around 70 miles (113 km) long, stretching from Stockport, Greater
Manchester, and ending at Liverpool Bay, Merseyside. For centuries, it formed
part of the ancient county divide between Lancashire and Cheshire.
"Wow it was fab going on the river mersey i went with my school and had our lunch on the ferri on the river mersey"
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The Mersey is formed from three tributaries: the
River Etherow, the River Goyt, and the River Tame. The modern accepted start of
the Mersey is at the confluence of the Tame and Goyt, in central Stockport,
Greater Manchester. However, older definitions, and many older maps, place its
start a few miles up the Goyt; for example the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
states "It is formed by the junction of the Goyt and the Etherow a short
distance below Marple in Greater Manchester on the first-named stream."
Stockport to Warrington
From Stockport it flows near Didsbury, Northenden,
Stretford, Urmston and Flixton, then at Irlam it flows into the Manchester Ship
Canal, which is the canalised River Irwell to this point. The course of the
Mersey has been obliterated by the Canal past Hollins Green to Rixton although
the old river bed can be seen outside Irlam and also at Warburton. At Rixton the
River Bollin enters the Canal from the south and the Mersey leaves the Canal to
the north, meandering through Woolston, where the Ship Canal Company's dredgings
have formed a nature reserve (Woolston Eyes), and Warrington. It is tidal from
Howley Weir in Warrington, although high spring tides often top the weir. A
small bypass around Howley Weir, Howley Lock, was created before the ship canal
existed, but is now redundant. The lock can still be seen to this day.
Underneath the Runcorn-Widnes Bridges across the River Mersey,
looking south towards Runcorn. The road bridge is on the left and the rail
bridge on the right
West of Warrington the river widens, passing
through the Runcorn Gap between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, in
Halton. The Manchester Ship Canal also lies in the Gap, along the southern bank
of the river.
The Runcorn Gap is bridged by the Silver Jubilee
Bridge and Runcorn Railway Bridge, while a project known as Mersey Gateway to
build a new road bridge over the Mersey east of the existing bridges is
currently under consideration, and has received some government support.
From the Runcorn Gap, the river widens into a
large estuary, which is three miles (5 km) wide at its widest point near
Ellesmere Port. The course of the river then heads north, with Liverpool to the
east and the Wirral Peninsula to the west. The Manchester Ship Canal continues
along the Cheshire bank of the river as far as Eastham Locks, where it enters
the river. The eastern part of this estuary is much affected by silting, and
part of it is marked on modern maps as dry land instead of as tidal. These
wetlands are of importance to wildlife, and are listed as a Ramsar site.
The Estuary is also the home of Seaforth Dock, on
the Liverpool side of the river. The dock in the 1960's building began as the
Royal Seaforth Dock, now known locally as Bootle Docks or the Freeport. The dock
deals with around 500,000 containers, 1,236,000 tonnes of oil, over 2.5 million
tonnes of grain and animal feed, 452,000 tonnes of wood per year and with 25% of
all container traffic between UK and USA making the port one of the most
successful in the world. It is known world over as the "Atlantic Gateway".
It was also the first UK port with radar assisted operations.
The estuary then narrows to flow between
Liverpool and Birkenhead, where it is constricted to a width of 1.2 kilometres
(0.7 mi), between Albert Dock and the Woodside ferry terminal. It then flows
into Liverpool Bay on the Irish Sea, after a total course of 68 miles .
The conurbation on both sides of the river in
this area is known as Merseyside.
At 8.4m (27' 6") the River Mersey has the second
highest tidal range in Britain - second only to the River Severn. This has led
to proposals for the future construction of a tidal barrage to generate
electricity. Very high spring tides often generate a tidal bore which can
penetrate as far upstream as Warrington.
Two road tunnels run under the Mersey at
Liverpool: the older Queensway Tunnel (opened 1934) connecting with Birkenhead,
and the Kingsway Tunnel (opened 1971) connecting with Wallasey. There is also a
railway tunnel dating back to the 1880s, which carries passenger services on the
Wirral Line of the Merseyrail franchise.
The Mersey Ferry runs between the Pier Head at
Liverpool, and the Wirral terminals at Seacombe, Wallasey and Woodside,
Anglo-Saxon Mǽres-ēa =border river,
possibly the border between Mercia and Northumbria.
Water quality in the River Mersey has been
severely affected by industrialisation in the region, and in 1985, the Mersey
Basin Campaign was established to improve water quality and encourage waterside
regeneration. In 2002, oxygen levels that could support fish along the entire
length were witnessed for the first time since industry began on the Mersey.
Salmon are now found in the river. They can be
viewed on the Salmon Steps at Woolston between the months of September and
November. Since 2006 Atlantic Grey Seals have also ventured as far inland as
Since the construction of the Manchester Ship
Canal, large commercial vessels do not normally navigate the estuary further
upstream than Garston on the North Bank, or the locks into the Ship Canal at
Eastham. Deep-water channels are maintained to both. Until the early 20th
century, commercial traffic bound for further upstream was mainly carried in
large flat-bottomed sailing barges known as Mersey Flats.
These could carry cargo as far inland as Howley
Wharf in Warrington and (via the Sankey Canal) to St Helens. Motor barges
continued to deliver to riverside factories at Warrington until at least the
1970s, but nowadays only pleasure craft and yachts use the upper estuary and the
tidal river, with a number of sailing clubs based there. On most high tides,
seagoing yachts with their masts raised can navigate as far upstream as Fiddlers
Ferry - about 5km (3 miles) downstream of Warrington - where there is a small
marina accessed via a sea lock. Although river craft can continue as far
upstream as Howley Weir, there are no landing or mooring facilities. Portable
craft can penetrate as far as Woolston. The barrier to further navigation here
is a legal one in that the Mersey then shares its course with the Manchester
Ship Canal for some miles upstream.
In popular culture
The river is now internationally famous thanks to
the music of the 1960s known as Merseybeat from the Mersey Sound and its strong
association with Liverpool. The Mersey itself was popularized in the Merseybeat
song Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry & The Pacemakers. The group later
recorded a follow-up, Mersey Lullaby, that is part of the 2007 children's
CD/book Blue Moo: Jukebox Hits from Way Back Never, by Sandra Boynton.
Paul McCartney's 2007 song That Was Me,
from his album Memory Almost Full mentions merseybeating with the band.
Mersey Paradise by The Stone Roses has the river in its title.
was fab going on the river mersey i went
with my school and had our lunch on the
ferri on the river mersey.