Noake's Worcestershire Page 336



SCARCELY a century ago, where now stands the important trading town of Stourport, and where the Stour joins the Severn, were a solitary alehouse, called "Stour Mouth," and a few houses only. These cottages were dependent on the neighbouring village of Mitton, which took its rise from its convenience for millers, as Leland observes: "From Bewdley to Mitton village, about four miles by woody ground and some coarse enclosures, here doth Stour river break into two or three armaletts and serveth milles." Brindley's canal, to connect the Staffordshire trade with the Severn, was constructed under the Acts of 1765 and 1770, at a cost of 105,000; the basin was completed in 1771, and a bridge over the Severn in 1775, the latter costing about 5,000.* Then speedily arose, from the sandy common, quays, warehouses, manufactories, and streets; and if the canal and river interest had not had to compete with the railway Stourport would ere this have been one of the largest and most thriving towns in the county. It is situate in what was known as the hamlet of Lower Mitton, in the parish of Kidderminster. The hamlet of Upper Mitton is in the parish of Hartlebury, but it will be joined for ecclesiastical purposes to Lower Mitton after the next avoidance of the rectory of the parish to which it belongs. Stourport is now a separate parish, but for all purposes (except elections, where it is linked with Bewdley, and called "the borough of Bewdley and Stourport") it is still known as "the hamlet of Mitton."

* This bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1794, and the present iron bridge, of one arch 160 feet span, was afterwards erected. Application is to be made to Parliament this Session to improve this bridge by lowering it so as to make the road less dangerous and also to add footpaths.