River Alt

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River Alt in Croxteth
Yachts moored at the mouth of the River Alt

The River Alt is in Merseyside, England.

The Alt runs from Hag Plantation in Huyton at 125 ft (38 m), through Croxteth Park, roughly follows the M57 motorway south of Kirkby, then flows north of Aintree and south of Maghull. Historically in Lancashire, it then runs south of Formby and empties into the Irish Sea, near the edge of the Mersey estuary at Hightown.[1]

The Alts upper waters deriving from small streams and, in particular, one arising at Hag Plantation in Huyton at 125ft.(2) The Alt then flows at a low gradient across an alluvium plain in a north- westerly direction before turning south-wards and emptying into the River Mersey at Hightown- between Crosby and Formby.[2]

The Alt's catchment boundary reaches as far as Banks & Crossens in the north and out to Burscough & Kirkby in the east. It flows through varying types of land : Sherwood Sandstone in the Huyton area, Coal Measures in the West Derby area and eventually Mercia Mudstone in the Maghull/North Sefton area. The estuary forms part of the Ribble and Alt Estuaries Special Protection Area for wildlife.

The rivers name is probably of Celtic origin but banks of the river are lined by villages and places with names of Viking origin.[3]

Both the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse and the Waterloo Cup in hare coursing at Great Altcar are associated with the River Alt watershed.

Before the installation of Tidal Floodgates at Hightown in the 18th Century the river was once called a Troublesome little river its everchanging course cutting through the field boundaries, threatening roads and bridges and wiping out the Hamlet of Altmouth sometime between 1577 and 1713. Flooding along the river was a problem until the 1960s when work to straighten and Canalise the river plus a new large Pumping Station at Altmouth ended the regular inundation of fields. The river was once well known for its fish and large quantities of Eels were trapped upstream and in tributaries. Flatfish like Dabs, Plaice and Flounder were caught in the estuary and the tidal reaches, vast Cockle beds were worked in the Estuary.

This little unassuming river began to change in the early 20th Century as Liverpool expanded and Industry, then new housing began to grow along its banks. By the 1970s the River was dead apart from Tubifex Bloodworms[4][better source needed][5][better source needed]little more than a stinking open sewer slowly carrying untreated Industrial and Household effluent down to Liverpool Bay. New sewage farms at Croxteth and Hillhouse plus modernisation to existing sewage farms and the decrease in Heavy Industry in Knowsley, Kirkby and Aintree began to clean up the River and by the early 1990s Freshwater fish began to colonise the river from Tributaries like Sudell Brook and Downholland Brook[6] By 2000 the River was well known amongst local anglers for its healthy population of Pike, Chub, Bream, Roach and Sticklebacks. Herons, Kingfishers and in Summer Egrets can often be seen patrolling the water.

The Alt is still not clean due to its heritage as a handy dumping ground for sewage and Industrial waste currently it has a Moderate Eological rating but a Fail rating for Chemicals due to heavy metals in its silt. However the transformation from smelly sewer to River in moderate health is remarkable in such a short time.


Maghull Brook
The last open section of the Tue Brook


  • Downholland Brook
    • New Cut
    • Bull Cop
    • Sandy Brook
      • Old Canal
    • Fine Jane's Brook
    • Leather Barrow's Ditch
      • Cheshire Lines Brook
    • Barton Brook
    • Chisnall Brook
      • Rough Brook
  • Arnold's Cop
  • Main Sluice
    • Tongue's Watercourse
    • Within's Watercourse
  • Lydiate Brook
    • Carr Sluice
  • Maghull Hey Cop
    • Carr Sluice
  • Hunt's Brook
  • Maghull Brook
  • St. Helen's Gutter (as the Alt is known between Aintree and Maghull)
  • Dover's Brook
    • Whinny Brook
  • Harrison's Brook
  • Netherton's Brook
  • Kirkby Brook
  • Knowsley Brook
  • Tue Brook


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°31′22″N 3°03′57″W / 53.52278°N 3.06583°W / 53.52278; -3.06583