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River Sowe

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PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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1 of 10  Thu 17th Aug 2017 4:47pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:3944

Hi all Wave Coventry has another river as well as the Sherbourne, which starts life in Bedworth, which as it meanders down the eastern side of our city, is joined by several brooks that start in the higher ground of Keresley, before joining with the Sherbourne which then both enter the Avon. Sowe Valley Project The link includes a short video, as well a map & info. The River Sowe was more my contact river, me growing up in Wyken. I often played with chums around Wyken Croft as well as around what used to be Binley Rd spinney, near to what was Stoke Hill Guild House. There are references to the River Sowe in other threads on our forum, but with the Sherbourne having its own thread & receiving much deserved attention nowadays, I don't want our River Sowe forgotten. Coventry Walks Website A quote from the above. "The Sowe Valley is a continuous riverside park stretching for 8.5 miles from Hawkesbury Junction Conservation Area (Longford) in the north to Stonebridge Meadows Local Nature Reserve in the south.  It links the countryside with the city and passes near to Aldermans Green, Wood End, Bell Green, Henley Green, Walsgrave, Clifford Park, Wyken, Ernesford Grange, Binley, Stoke, Willenhall and Whitley.  Its character is constantly changing, some parts are green and rural, others are more built up, but all provide a place of escape from the noise and pressures of the City." Sowe Valley Map
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
johnwright
combe martim
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2 of 10  Fri 18th Aug 2017 4:45pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2014  Total posts:127

Spent many happy hours as a kid along the River Sowe from where it came under the canal by the gas works up to the mill near the Slough. The Sowe then meandered along the Aldermans Green Road. We would fish for sticklebacks where the Sowe went through "The Tip", all we needed was a stick for the rod, cotton for the line and a matchstick for the float. The bait would be a small worm tied to the end of the line. We would catch dozens like this and keep them in a jam jar until we finished fishing, then let them go again.
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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3 of 10  Sat 19th Aug 2017 9:29am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1981

johnwright, hi. Yes, never knew the source of the river, but yes it came through a culvert by the gasworks under the road into one of two school playing fields, it ran through the centre of the field down to the water-mill and then like you and LesMac described. But the playing field was like a giant long saucer with a row of trees one side and a tall wild hedgerow the other side. A cinder track ran the other way through the first playing field and across the Sowe by a small wooden bridge. Normal days it was like a small stream but during the winter months it got flooded and the field was like a lake, one could stand on the wooden bridge and be surrounded with water, with the trees and hedgerow blocking out the sight of houses and sound and no traffic from the road you could let your mind take over, the only sound was the gurgling of the water as it passed round the supports of the bridge, a twig floating down could be a a giant tree that threatened to take the bridge downstream, step down from the bridge and the water swirled round your ankles, wade to the hedgerow and down towards the mill, in the shallows of the snow, ice and water, my feet making the only noise in the slush, in the silence of the day, until I reached the mill yard. To me the Sowe did have its days.
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
pixrobin
Canley
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4 of 10  Sat 19th Aug 2017 9:44am  
Member: Joined Mar 2014  Total posts:1004

Kaga, when I read your descriptive posts I can close my eyes, visualise the scene and feel the water swirling around my ankles. Thank you. It reminds me of my own carefree childhood. Robin
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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5 of 10  Sat 19th Aug 2017 1:51pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1981

pixrobin, yeh! Wasn't it good when you was a kid, you could just kick a heap of leaves when you was angry and no one took any notice
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
LesMac
Coventry
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6 of 10  Sun 20th Aug 2017 10:03am  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:292

Kaga. Do you know what polluted the Sowe? I remember my friend Brian, full of excitement, coming to my door telling that the river had turned to pink. Crossed the road and yes, it had turned pink overnight. The impact of this didn't occur to us for several days. The river again ran clear but all life had gone except for the hardy voles. The eels could travel overland but the nearest water was Wyken Slough, too far? I don't know. That event was about 1940 or perhaps '41 but throughout my childhood the river was barren, don't know if it ever recovered. Perhaps nature can heal itself after the folly of men.
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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7 of 10  Sun 20th Aug 2017 12:30pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1981

LesMac. Can never be sure, but the gas works I believe started new projects and possibly new chemicals at the start of the war. I know for a short time the canal had chemicals poured into it, but was dangerous to the boat people, there was a lot of bad talk, but it was solved. But I know for a fact that the tip at Sutton Stop polluted and killed everything in the Slough during the thirties, the strange thing to me that the tip broke out into small fires that were left unattended, the smell and the fumes, how the residents of Blackhorse Road put up with it, but in the end they did have to get rid of that tip. The fires would have been seen from the air.
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
johnwright
combe martim
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8 of 10  Sun 20th Aug 2017 2:08pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2014  Total posts:127

I do remember the canal through Foleshill being polluted on two occasions in the 1950s. The surface of the canal was alive with fish, newts and other aquatic animals gasping for air, it was terrible to see. We thought at the time that it was Courtaulds who were causing the pollution because it was cheaper for them to pour unwanted chemicals into the canal rather than dispose of it properly. They were fined for the pollution, but even the fine was less than the cost of disposing unwanted chemicals properly!!!!!
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
walrus
cheshire
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9 of 10  Sun 20th Aug 2017 5:35pm  
Member: Joined Dec 2011  Total posts:209

The Sowe and its tributaries figured large in our young lives. The river ran through the playing fields of our school, Caludon Castle. We would jump in to cool off after cross country. We played cricket on Purcell Road fields and had to retrieve many a ball from the water. We also had a rope swing across its breadth. In the early days of Wood End's construction the water meadows of River Walk were often flooded and folk used a rickety wooden walkway and bridge. The tributary that rises somewhere near Spring Road runs behind Elkington St. and Armfield St. It was/is little more than a trickle and was littered with scrap. There were always iridescent oily streaks in the water and the smell was awful. We were continually warned to stay away from the brook because our mothers feared polio. We would dam the water and blow up the dams with explosives fashioned from penny bangers. It's a shame that we were never taught any local history or geography at school so we were unaware of our river systems. I didn't know of the Sherbourne at all!
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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10 of 10  Mon 21st Aug 2017 12:23pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:1981

The trouble I have is trying to sort out the right topic. Leave the Rivoli tuppeny rush your head in a whirl. The Sowe flooded like a lake, but at the mill, a gap in the hedge then a few yards up Mill Lane across the road, over a wooden stile, past the gardens and another lake (Slough) and tall hedgerows and with no traffic on the road (silence) you could imagine you were Magwa and the Canadian lakes, follow the beaten trail along the forest (tall hedgerow) and you burst through to a clearing, the other side the clearing was a large mound of earth (clodbanks) but the fort was missing, follow another water course (canal) until you reached home. Have to wait till next Saturday morning to see what happens (think I was 6 or 7).
Town Planning and Development - River Sowe

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