I’ve whittled a perched Wilden Marsh grey heron, incorporating a real Wilden Marsh heron’s perch.

Brooding skies

Brooding Skies

 

I walked through the historic town Stourport-on-Severn and its canal basin today, just 1.5 miles downstream from Wilden Marsh. Stourport is a town and civil parish within the Wyre Forest District of North WorcestershireEngland, a few miles to the south of Kidderminster and downstream on the River Severn from Bewdley. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 20,292.

Stourport came into being around the canal basins at the Severn terminus of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, which was completed in 1768. In 1772 the junction between the Staffordshire and Worcestershire and the Birmingham Canal was completed, and Stourport became one of the principal distributing centres for goods to and from the rest of the West Midlands. The canal terminus was built on meadowland to the south-west of the hamlet of Lower Mitton. The terminus was first called Stourmouth, then Newport, and finally Stourport was settled on by 1771.

The population of Stourport rose from about 12 in the 1760s to 1300 in 1795. In 1771 John Wesley had called Stourport a “well-built village”, but by 1788 he noted that “where twenty years ago there was but one house; now there are two or three streets, and as trade increases, it will probably grow into a considerable town”. In 1790 he found the town “twice as large as two years ago”.

With the completion of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal in 1816, the revenue of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal plunged sharply and from 1812 the population of Stourport scarcely rose, with many male workers leaving the town.

In the area close to Stourport there are several large manor and country houses, among which Witley CourtAstley HallPool HouseAreley HallHartlebury and Abberley Hall (with its clock tower) are particularly significant. Hartlebury was the residence of the Bishops of Worcester from the early 13th century until 2007, and Astley Hall was the home of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, who died here in 1947.

In 1968 the Transport Act designated the canal a “Cruise way” for pleasure purposes.

In 1944, this was the location of a famous address to the troops, by USA General George S. Patton.

The George Gilbert Scott church replaced an earlier brick church of 1782 by James Rose. This building was never finished, and after suffering storm damage, had to be partly demolished. The current St. Michael’s church sits partially within its ruins. The Font was salvaged from the ruins of the old church and is still used in the existing building.

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Stourport-on-Severn main canal basin.

House across the canal

House across the canal.

I was out and about around the Falling Sands Viaduct yesterday. The viaduct carries the Severn Valley Heritage Railway, and bridges both the River Stour and the Worcester and Staffordshire canal at the northern end of Wilden Marsh. Here are a few photos of this historic structure, dating from1877 and rising 64 feet above the river and canal; it is now in the process of refurbishment:

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