25 Interesting Things About The River Trent 1.7 million years ago the River Trent rose in the Welsh hills and has changed course several times because of glaciers and ice lakes.
The River Trent is 171 miles (274 kilometres) long and is the 3rd longest river in the UK (after the Severn and Thames).
Its source is on Biddulph Moor, near Stoke-on Trent in north Staffordshire, just a small puddle, 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level.
The Trent is an unusual English river as it flows north (for half of its route). It ends where it meets the River Ouse at Trent Falls, and flows into the Humber where the tide rises and falls for 5.2 metres (17 feet), this is called its tidal range.
The Trent drains a catchment area in the Midlands of 4,031 square miles (10,440 square kilometres) of land, where 6 million people live.
Average annual rainfall is 720mm (28 inches) across the Trent catchment area.
The river is freshwater for 119 miles (191 km) and is not tidal west of Newark. Only the last 52 miles (83 km) is tidal, from Cromwell weir as far as the Humber estuary.
42 main tributaries feed into the Trent. 81 bridges cross it.
The Trent is navigable today for 66 miles (107 kilometres) of its length, as far as Shardlow in Derbyshire.
The highest point it was ever commercially navigable (between 1710 and 1805) was Burton upon Trent. There are 11 locks along the river, 6 of them over 49 metres (161 feet) long.
In Roman times it was called ‘Trisantona’ meaning ‘great female thoroughfare’.
The Danes and Anglo-Saxons sailed up the Trent when they invaded England.
In the 8th century it was called the ‘Treonte’. The name is Celtic and means ‘trespasser’ as it often floods the fields and villages. It’s said that in 1101 and 1581 part of the River Trent completely dried up!
Historically, the Trent was the administrative boundary between Northern and Southern England and laws were once different on the two sides.
The river was severely polluted by industry, sewage and agricultural run-off in the 19th and 20th centuries and hardly any fish could live in it.
The river is much cleaner now and salmon have been re-introduced to many of its tributaries.
More than 30 other species of fish live in the river, including eels. There are 6 wetland Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) on the Trent, such as Attenborough Nature Reserve near Nottingham.
In the 20th century, otters were almost extinct in lowland England, but now they can now be found in the whole of the Trent river network. Cooling water is taken from the Trent for many coal and gas-fired power stations and there is a hydroelectric plant at Beeston Weir providing electricity for 2,000 homes. Gravel and sand are still quarried along the Trent and many former gravel pits are now nature reserves. A natural tidal wave, called the Aegir (pronounced ‘E-jer’) is often seen on the Trent near Gainsborough. It can be up to1.5 metres (5 feet) high. Shakespeare mentioned the River Trent in Henry IV, part 1. “…And here the smug and silver Trent shall run, In a new channel, fair and evenly…”. This refers to an area of land, (near the present W Burton power station) which was lost to its owner when two oxbow lakes formed and the river changed course.