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35 to 70 inches (890 to 1,780 mm)


Wilden Ferry and Medieval Bridges[edit]

The crossing point and hamlet was originally known as Wilden Ferry and was latterly located upstream of the existing bridge. An earlier point for the ferry was also used and although the exact site is unknown, it was thought to be in the reach of the river between the bridge and Derwent Mouth.[1]

In 1310 the ferry replaced the last of a series of medieval bridges that crossed the Trent within this reach. Archaeological investigations in the Hemington Fields quarry, revealed that three wooden bridges were destroyed by floods between 1140 and 1309. During this period the unstable gravel bed of the Trent was affected by a succession of large floods which meant that the river shifted its course significantly during this time, demolishing the bridges and a Norman Mill weir as well.[2]

Wilden Ferry was mentioned in many of the early Acts of Parliament regarding navigation both on the River Trent and the Trent & Mersey Canal. The Wilden crossing point was used in these Acts, as Shardlow only later grew into an inland port and village on the Derbyshire side of the river.[3]

18th Century Cavendish Bridge[edit]

The delays and inconvenience of using the ferry on what had become a busy turnpike route, led to calls for changes to be made, and the first meeting to discuss the bridge was held at the nearby Old Crown Inn in 1758.[5]

The five arch masonry bridge that was subsequently built was designed by James Paine, using sandstone transported down river from the quarry at Weston-on-Trent. It was opened in 1760 and took its name from the patron of the scheme, William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire.[5] The toll for crossing the bridge was the same as that for the ferry, and these were collected until 1888 when the turnpike trusts were wound up. The crossing remained in use until the major flood of March 1947, when one of the piers was washed away and the centre of the bridge collapsed into the river.[6][4]

Modern Bridge[edit]

Following the loss of the bridge, the Army installed a temporary Bailey Bridge using the existing foundations, which continued in use until 1957, when the current concrete span was erected on a new alignment to the east of the original London Road.[5]

The toll house which survived the collapse of the bridge, was subsequently removed when the remains of the old crossing was demolished in 1960, although the slate plaque inscribed with the toll charges was retained and relocated on the approach to the new bridge.[6]


  1. ^ "A brief history of Shardlow". Shardlow Heritage Centre. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  2. ^ Brown, Anthony (2008). "Late Holocene channel changes of the Middle Trent: channel response to a thousand-year flood record". Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  3. ^ The Statutes at Large: Volume 14. 1786. pp. 339–340.
  4. ^ a b "Toll charges stone for the Old Cavendish Bridge over the River Trent, Shardlow". Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Cavendish Bridge Conservation Area Appraisal and Study" (PDF). North West Leicestershire council. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b Stone, Richard (2005). River Trent. Phillimore. pp. 74–75. ISBN 1860773567.

The bridge however was washed away by flood waters in A Bailey Bridge was used as a temporary crossing until the current bridge was opened in 1957. Presently, traffic lights only allow vehicular traffic over the bridge in one direction at one particular time.

There is a hamlet named after the bridge on the Leicestershire side of the river, within the Castle Donington parish. On the Derbyshire side is the village of Shardlow.


Steam Packets[edit]

The first steam powered boats were introduced onto the Trent in 1814 by the Gainsborough Steam Packet Company, which operated a regular steam packet service using paddle steamers from Hull to Gainsborough. The Calendonia making her maiden passage in October of that year, at a speed of 14 miles per hour.[2] [3] The service was daily (except Sundays), and the packet would call at a number of ferry stathers or landing stages between the two towns. It was said that without stopping the trip could be done in less than three hours, but generally the 56 mile trip with stops would take four to five hours, meaning that passengers could travel to Hull, and return on the same day.[4][5]

In 1823 the steam packets Albion and British Queen operated this service, each on alternate days, calling at various locations including Burton and Flixborough Stather, Keadby, Butterwick Ferry and Stockwith. Both vessels having been built in the shipyards of Gainsborough.[6] The greater use of railways at the start of the 20th century meant that passenger numbers decreased until only a market day trip remained; this reduced service, using the steam packet Celia, finally ceased during the First World War.[6]

Trent - Commercial Waterway[edit]

Between Trent Falls and Keadby, coastal vessels that have navigated through the Humber still deliver cargoes at the wharves of Grove, Neap House, Gunness and Flixborough. Restrictions on size mean that the largest vessels that can be accommodated are 100m long and 4,500 tonnes. [7][8]

The need for the use of a pilot on the Trent is not compulsory for commercial craft, but is suggested for those without any experience of the river. There have been a number of incidents with ships running aground and in one case, even striking Keadby Bridge. The most recent occurence involved the Celtic Endeavour being aground near Gunness for ten days, finally being lifted off by a high tide. [9] [10][11]


  • Cooper, B. (1991) Transformation of a Valley: The Derbyshire Derwent, Cromford: Scarthin (originally by London: Heinemann, 1983), ISBN 0-907758-17-7

Bishop [13]



Stone [16]

  • Barber, Charles (1993). The English Language: a historical introduction. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-78570-9.

Barber, J (1834). History of the County of Lincoln: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Volume 2. Retrieved May 11 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)


  1. ^ Knight, David; Viner, Blaise (2007). "Making Archaeology Matter:Quarrying and Archaeology in the Trent Valley" (PDF). Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  2. ^ Barber, J (1834). History of the County of Lincoln: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Volume 2.
  3. ^ "Transport on the River Trent". Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Steam-packet-history-heritage-society". Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  5. ^ Baines 1823, pp. 16.
  6. ^ a b "Packet Boats and Paddle Steamers". Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  7. ^ NGIA (2006). Prostar Sailing Directions 2006 North Sea Enroute. ProStar Publications. p. 53. ISBN 9781577857549.
  8. ^ "ports-and-wharves-of-North-Lincolnshire". Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  9. ^ "MAIB Search Results Mithril". Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  10. ^ "MAIB Search Results Maria". Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  11. ^ "Freighter-Celtic-Endeavor-aground-and-refloated". Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  12. ^ Everard Leaver Guilford (1912). "Memorials of old Nottinghamshire" (Memorials of old Nottinghamshire. ed.). London: G. Allen. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  13. ^ Bishop 2012, pp. 328
  14. ^ "Saumur Railway Tunnel". The Dambusters. Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  15. ^ Saumur Railway Tunnel quoting AIR27/2128
  16. ^ Stone 2005, p. 14, 15


Although Spenser endowed the 'The beauteous Trent' with 'thirty different streams'[a] the river is joined by more than twice that number of different tributaries,[2] of which the largest in terms of flow is the Tame which drains most of the West Midlands, including Birmingham and the Black Country. The second and third largest are the Derwent and the Dove respectively; together these two rivers drain the majority of Derbyshire and Staffordshire, including the upland areas of the Peak District.[3]

The Soar which drains the majority of the county of Leicestershire, could also be considered as the second largest tributary, as it has a larger catchment area than the Dove or Derwent, but its discharge is significantly less than the Derwent, and lower than the Dove.[3]

In terms of rainfall the Derwent receives the highest annual average rainfall, whereas the Devon, which has the lowest average rainfall is the driest catchment of those tabulated.[3]

Statistics of the Trent’s largest tributaries
Name County [b] Length Catchment Area Discharge Rainfall [c] Max. Altitude Refs
km mi km2 mi2 m3/s cfs mm in m ft
Blithe  Staffs 47 29 167 64 1.16 41 782 30.8 281 922 [d][3][2]
Devon  Notts 47 29 377 146 1.57 55 591 23.3 170 560 [e][3][2]
Derwent  Derbys 118 73 1,204 465 18.58 656 982 38.7 634 2,080 [f][3][2]
Dove  Derbys 96 60 1,020 390 13.91 491 935 36.8 546 1,791 [g][3][2]
Erewash  Derbys 46 29 194 75 1.87 66 708 27.9 194 636 [h][3][2]
Greet  Notts 18 11 66 25 0.30 11 655 25.8 153 502 [i][3][2]
Idle  Notts 55 34 896 346 2.35 83 650 26 205 673 [j][3][2]
Leen  Notts 39 24 124 48 0.67 24 686 27.0 185 607 [k][3][2]
Soar  Leics 95 59 1,386 535 11.73 414 641 25.2 272 892 [l][3][2]
Sow  Staffs 38 24 601 232 6.33 224 714 28.1 234 768 [m][3][2]
Tame  West Mids 95 59 1,500 580 27.84 983 691 27.2 291 955 [n][3][2]
Torne  Lincs 44 27 361 139 0.89 31 615 24.2 145 476 [o][3][2]

List of Tributaries[edit]

Tributaries of the Trent

Alphabetical listing of tributaries, extracted from the Water Framework Directive list of water bodies for the River Trent:[2]

Tributary [p] River Order Joins Trent at Bank
Adlingfleet Drain 1 Adlingfleet Left
Amerton Brook 60 Shirleywich Left
River Blithe 55 Nethertown Left
Bottesford Beck 8 East Butterwick Right
Bourne Brook 54 Kings Bromley Right
Catchwater Drain 16 West Burton Left
Causeley Brook 68 Hanley Left
Causeway Dyke 31 Bleasby Left
Chitlings Brook 66 Hanford Left
Cuttle Brook 42 Swarkestone Left
Cocker Beck 33 Gunthorpe Left
Darklands Brook 48 Drakelow Right
River Devon 27 Newark Right
River Derwent, Derby 40 Shardlow Left
River Dove 47 Newton Solney Left
Dover Beck 32 Caythorpe Left
River Eau 9 Barlings, Scotter Right
River Erewash 38 Attenborough Left
Eggington Brook 46 Willington Left
Fairham Brook 37 Clifton Bridge Right
Ferry Drain 11 Owston Ferry Left
Fledborough Beck 22 Fledborough Left
Folly Drain 6 Althorpe Left
Ford Green Brook 69 Milton Right
Fowlea Brook 67 Stoke Right
Gayton Brook 61 Weston Left
Grassthorpe Beck (Goosemoor Dyke) 24 Grassthorpe Left
River Greet 29 Fiskerton Left
Healeys Drain 7 Burringham Right
Holme Dyke (Bleasby) 30 Bleasby Left
River Idle, Nottinghamshire 13 West Stockwith Left
Laughton Drain 10 East Ferry Right
River Leen 36 Wilford Left
Longton Brook 63 Trentham Left
Lyme Brook 65 Hanford Right
Marton Drain 18 Marton Right
River Mease 50 Croxall Right
Milton Brook 43 Ingleby Right
Moreton Brook 57 Rugeley Left
Morton Warping Drain 14 Gainsborough Right
North Beck 20 Church Laneham Left
Old Trent (High Marnham) 23 High Marnham Left
Ouse Dyke 34 Stoke Bradolph Left
Park Brook 64 Trentham Right
Pauper's Drain 3 Amcotts Left
Polser Brook 35 Radcliffe on Trent Right
Pyford Brook 52 Alrewas Right
Ramsley Brook 41 King's Newton Right
Repton Brook 45 Repton Right
Rising Brook 58 Rugeley Right
Rundell Dyke 28 Averham Left
Scotch Brook 62 Stone Left
Sewer Drain 19 Torksey Right
Sewer Dyke (North Clifton) 21 North Clifton Right
Seymour Drain 17 Cottam Left
Shropshire Brook 56 (Longdon / Armitage catchment) Left
River Soar, Leicester 39 Trentlock Right
River Sow 59 Great Haywood Right
River Swarbourn 53 Wychnor Left
River Tame 51 Alrewas Right
Tatenhill Brook 49 Branston Left
The Beck (Carlton on Trent) 26 Carlton on Trent Left
The Fleet 25 Girton Right
River Torne 5 Keadby Left
Twyford Brook 44 Twyford Left
Warping Drain (Keadby) 4 Keadby Left
Warping Drain (Owston Ferry) 12 Owston Ferry Left
Wheatley Beck 15 West Burton Left
Winterton Beck 2 Bole Ings Right

Old Stuff - old table[edit]

Discharge of Trent at various locations
Station County Discharge
m3/s cfs m3/s cfs km2 mi2
Stoke on Trent  Staffs 0.6 21 1.16 41 53 20 [3][2]
Great Haywood  Staffs 4.4 160 97.9 3,460 325 125 [3][2]
Yoxall  Staffs 12.8 450 18.58 656 1,229 475 [3][2]
Drakelow  Staffs 36.1 1,270 18.58 656 3,072 1,186 [3][2]
Shardlow  Derbys 51.6 1,820 18.58 656 4,400 1,700 [3][2]
Colwick  Notts 83.8 2,960 1,017 35,900 7,486 2,890 [3][2]
North Muskham  Notts 88.4 3,120 1,000 35,000 8,231 3,178 [3][2]

more tribs[edit]

Among its tributaries are:


Tributaries of the Trent

Alphabetical listing of tributaries, extracted from the Water Framework Directive list of water bodies for the River Trent:[2]


  1. ^ In the epic poem the The Faerie Queene [1]
  2. ^ Indicative county shown
  3. ^ Rainfall is Annual Average 1961-90 for the catchment to the Gauging Station
  4. ^ Blithe measured at Hamstall Ridware
  5. ^ Devon measured at Cotham - Altitude from Ordnance Survey Map
  6. ^ Blithe measured at Church Wilne
  7. ^ Dove measured at Marston on Dove
  8. ^ Erewash measured at Sandiacre
  9. ^ Greet measured at Southwell
  10. ^ Idle measured at Mattersey
  11. ^ Leen measured at Triumph Road, Lenton
  12. ^ Soar measured at Kegworth
  13. ^ Sow measured at Milford
  14. ^ Tame measured at Hopwas
  15. ^ Torne measured at Auckley
  16. ^ Tributary names from Ordnance Survey maps added where list amalgamated river reaches



The Trent passes over a man-made waterfall in Hollin Wood just downstream from its source.

The Trent rises on the Staffordshire moorlands near the village of Biddulph Moor, from a number of sources including the Trent Head Well. It is then joined by other small streams to form the Head of Trent, which flows south, to the only reservoir along its course at Knypersley. Downstream of the reservoir it passes through Stoke on Trent and merges with the Lyme, Fowlea and other brooks that drain the 'six towns' of the Staffordshire Potteries to become the River Trent. On the southern fringes of Stoke, it passes through the landscaped parkland of Trentham Gardens.[12]

The river then continues south through the market town of Stone, and after passing the village of Salt, it reaches Great Haywood, where it is spanned by the Elizabethan Essex Bridge near Shugborough Hall, at this point the River Sow joins it. The Trent now flows south-east past the town of Rugeley until it reaches Kings Bromley where it meets the Blithe. Following the confluence with the Swarbourn, it passes Alrewas and reaches Wychnor, where it is crossed by the A38 dual carriageway, which follows the route of the Roman Ryknild Street. The river turns north-east where it is joined by its largest tributary; the Tame, and immediately afterwards by the Mease; creating a larger river that now flows through a broad floodplain. The river continues north-east passing the village of Walton-on-Trent until it reaches the large town of Burton upon Trent. The river in Burton is crossed by a number of bridges including the ornate Victorian Ferry Bridge that links Stapenhill to the town.[12]

Swarkestone Bridge

To the north-east of Burton the river is joined by the River Dove at Newton Solney and enters Derbyshire, before passing between the villages of Willington and Repton where it turns directly east to reach Swarkestone Bridge, King's Mill, Weston and Aston-on-Trent.[12]

At Shardlow, where the Trent and Mersey Canal begins, the river also meets the Derwent at Derwent Mouth. Following this confluence, the river turns north-east and is joined by the Soar before reaching the outskirts of Nottingham, where it is joined by the River Erewash near the Attenborough nature reserve. As it enters the city, it passes the suburbs of Beeston, Clifton and Wilford; where it is joined by the Leen. On reaching West Bridgford it flows beneath Trent Bridge near the cricket ground of the same name, and beside Nottingham Forest football ground until it reaches Holme Sluices.[12]

Newark Castle

Downstream of Nottingham it passes Radcliffe on Trent, Stoke Bardolph and Burton Joyce before reaching Gunthorpe with its bridge, lock and weir. The river now flows nort-east below the Toot and Trent Hills before reaching Hazelford Ferry, Fiskerton and Farndon. To the north of Farndon, beside the Staythorpe Power Station the river splits, with one arm passing Averham and Kelham, and the other arm, which is navigable, being joined by the Devon before passing through the market town of Newark-on-Trent and beneath the town's castle walls. The two arms recombine at Crankley Point beyond the town, where the river turns due north to pass North Muskham and Holme to reach Cromwell Weir, below which the Trent becomes tidal.[12]

The now tidal river, meanders across a wide floodplain, at the edge of which are located riverside villages such as Carlton and Sutton on Trent, Besthorpe and Girton. After passing the site of High Marnham power station, it reaches the only toll bridge along its course at Dunham on Trent. Downstream of Dunham the river passes Church Laneham and reaches Torksey, where it meets the Foss Dyke navigation which connects the Trent to Lincoln and the River Witham. Further north at Littleborough is the site of the Roman town of Segelocum, where a Roman road once crossed the river.[12] [13]

It then reaches the town of Gainsborough with its own Trent Bridge. The river frontage in the town is lined with warehouses, that were once used when the town was an inland port, many of which have been renovated for modern use. Downstream of the town the villages are often named in pairs, reflecting the fact that they were once linked by a river ferry between the two settlements. These villages include West and East Stockwith, Owston and East Ferry and West and East Butterwick. At West Stockwith the Trent is joined by the River Idle. The last bridge over the river is at Keadby where it is joined both by the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, and also by the River Torne.[12] Downstream of Keadby the river progressively widens, passing Amcotts and Flixborough to reach Burton upon Stather and finally Trent Falls. At this point, between Alkborough and Faxfleet the river joins the Ouse to form the Humber which flows into the North Sea.[12] [14] [15] [16]

  1. ^ "Faerie Queene. Book IV. Canto XI". Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Water Framework Directive Surface Water Classification Status and Objectives 2012 csv file". Environment 26th Nov 2012. Retrieved 10th Feb 2013. Check date values in: |accessdate=, |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "National River Flow Archive". Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  4. ^ "USGS Gage #09010500 on the Colorado River below Baker Gulch near Grand Lake, CO" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1953–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  5. ^ "USGS Gage #09070500 on the Colorado River near Dotsero, CO" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1941–2011. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  6. ^ "USGS Gage #09180500 on the Colorado River near Cisco, UT" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1895–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  7. ^ "USGS Gage #09380000 on the Colorado River at Lees Ferry, AZ" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1895–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
  8. ^ "USGS Gage #09423000 on the Colorado River below Davis Dam, AZ–NV" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1905–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  9. ^ "USGS Gage #09427520 on the Colorado River Below Parker Dam, AZ–CA" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1935–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  10. ^ "USGS Gage #09429600 on the Colorado River Below Laguna Dam, AZ–CA" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1971–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  11. ^ "USGS Gage #09522000 on the Colorado River at Northerly International Boundary, Above Morelos Dam, Near Andrade, CA" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1950–2010. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Get-a-map online". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  13. ^ "Littleborough". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Owston Ferry". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  15. ^ "West Butterwick". The Isle of Axholme Family History Society. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  16. ^ "East Stockwith". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
Knypersley Reservoir
Tinno passing Keadby

The literal North/South divide[edit]

The Trent historically marked the boundary between Northern England and Southern England. For example the administration of Royal Forests was subject to a different Justice in Eyre north and south of the river, and the jurisdiction of the medieval Council of the North started at the Trent.[1] Some traces of the former division remain: the Trent marks the boundary between the provinces of two English Kings of Arms, Norroy and Clarenceux.[2][3] This divide was also described in Michael Drayton's epic topographical poem, Poly-Olbion, The Sixe and Twentieth Song, 1622:

And of the British floods, though but the third I be,

Yet Thames and Severne both in this come short of me,

For that I am the mere of England, that divides

The north part from the south, on my so either sides,

that reckoning how these tracts in compasse be extent,

Men bound them on the north, or on the south of Trent [4]

Ferry Bridge
Ferry Bridge


  • Cooper, B. (1991) Transformation of a Valley: The Derbyshire Derwent, Cromford: Scarthin (originally by London: Heinemann, 1983), ISBN 0-907758-17-7

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