Noake's Worcestershire Page 213



"KIDDERMYNSTER is seated on Stowre, which river having saluted Staffordshyre and touched Shropshyre, emptyeth itself a little below into Severne; and although it showeth heere a barren sandye soyle - the worst of oure shyre - yet it recompenseth againe with this fayre towne of Kydderminster and its great frequented mercate there." So says our old friend Habingdon. He had evidently formed a higher opinion of this "fayre towne," and the pellucid stream which divides the parish in two, than we of the present day can possibly entertain. Streets irregular and badly paved (so that a Kidderminster man is known in any part of the world by his walking in the middle of the road and avoiding pavements), drainage and ventilation of houses shockingly imperfect, and dirt and refuse nuisances abundant, many houses void and falling into ruin, and the various entrances to the town so unprepossessing as to induce a visitor to hurry through the place without looking much behind him; while, as to the poor Stour, the epigram of Coleridge touching the Rhine cannot fail to suggest itself:

"Ye nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,

The river Rhine, as 'tis well known,

Doth wash your city of Cologne;

But tell me, nymphs, what power divine

Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine? "

Nash, at the close of the last century, complained of the "stunted and sickly look of the Kidderminster people and the uncleanliness of the town, which engendered putrid fevers and other horrid and unusual maladies," and terrible mortalities are recorded. From that time to this the sanitary affairs of the borough have been greatly neglected. There