THE River Stour, from its source in the Clent Hills to its confluence with the Severn at Stourport, has played a considerable part in the economic history of the Black Country, and although a mere brook in comparison to some of the other major water courses in the country, it's a tributary to be proud of.
The good people at Amblecote History Society know the Stour only too well as it leaves Stourbridge behind and flows through their parish before heading towards Wordsley. In recent months a major construction has been undertaken on the borders of Amblecote and Wollaston and the society's editor Mike Perkins, together with help from Helen Cook and Graham Beckley, have been monitoring the effect this had had on the Stour, which Mike has described as a "River re-born."
The following details are taken from a recent Amblecote History Society newsletter edited by Mike Perkins: "For hundreds of years the River Stour has provided a means of transporting goods from Stourbridge to the River Severn and over the centuries has powered dozens of mills along its course.
"Wollaston Mill was situated just south of the village centre and appears on a map dated 1689. This grew over the years and evolved into Isaac Nash, a manufacturer of edge tools. In 1959 Birmingham Sound Reproducers built a large factory on the site, and because the Stour was no longer needed as a form of power, the river was consigned to a square concrete tunnel passing underneath the factory. BSR sold the factory to Caparo and Sunrise Medical in 1997. However, issues with pollution eventually forced Caparo to close in early 2011 and Sunrise finally relocated to Quarry Bank in July 2012.
"The land which has been owned by Revelan (Halesowen) for some years, was sold for housing and as a consequence the concrete tunnel could now be demolished and the Stour allowed to flow freely once again in the open air. Demolition of the buildings began in April 2013 followed by the huge concrete pad that covered almost all of the old factory site.
"Helen, Graham and myself followed the restoration of the Stour over several months taking photographs at every stage. Temporary diversion channels had to made, but finally on April 17 this year the river was finally ready for its rebirth. A dam the contractors had built was breached, the diversion channel blocked off, and the river began to flow along this new open air section, catching the sunlight on its ripples for the first time in over fifty years."