There have been previous threads posted on the forum describing street names which honour and commemorate battles of the Anglo Boer War, for example Ladysmith Road in Halesowen, West Midlands and Belmont Road, Lye, Stourbridge.
Interestingly, I have recently come across a reference to Modder River in a short local history I have just read. The naming of the place is unofficial and not named on an Ordnance Survey map, but which must have been named by a veteran of the Anglo Boer War, and so became the name local foresters knew it by.
The publication to which I refer is "The Forest is my Life" authored by Edwin George, who is sadly no longer with us, but was Head Forester in the Wyre Forest area in years gone by.
Cover of the book by Edwin George
On page 17 is the following paragraph:
"Before the bridge was put up there, there used to be a ford through the brook, and then an old timber road used to go along the side of the brook from where our bailey bridge now spans the Modder River, and over the water and up Longdon Orchard. This was a favourite spot of a scout who got killed in the First Airborne Division at Arnhem. After the war his pals bought a cross and put it down by Modder River, and called it"Edward's Way ". Going back to those days, there wouldn't be any Scot's Pine planted on the bank, there would be ancient oaks, you see."
Wyre Forest is an ancient royal chase which straddles the boundaries of Worcestershire and Shropshire. The Dowles Brook is roughly the boundary line along it's course
Reproduced for research purposes only, here is a shot of the area concerned taken from Ordnance Survey Explorer Sheet 218: Wyre Forest & Kidderminster Bridgnorth.
The central grid reference for Longdon Orchard is SO745755. Directly south of this point at SO745765 the Dowles Brook.
As Edwin George uses the term "brook" I would reason that this would be the location of his "Modder River". When there is heavy rain, this babbling brook of around 4 or 5 metres in width becomes something of a brown coloured torrent not unlike the Modder in SA!
I have worked in the forest myself along Dowles Brook conducting wildlife surveys, but have never heard any of the Forestry Commission people or locals refer to it as Modder River. The blokes who worked the forest back in the early 20th century are all now long gone.
I guess my next stop would be the museum in Bewdley to see if they have any further information on a local man who may have served out there.
Unless anyone on the forum can shed some light, or have a similar story......
Steve - some further research shows the Elan "Aqueduct" was under construction at the time of the Second Boer War. The inverted commas are due to the fact that it appears to be three pipes:
This photo has the caption: "The pipes of the Elan valley aqueduct crossing a small brook in the Wyre forest near Bewdley, UK. The aqueduct feeds water from the Elan valley reservoirs in Wales to Birmingham, a distance of 73 miles, and was built between 1893 and 1904."
On the satellite map below the course of the pipeline through the Wyre Forest can be made out due to trees not being allowed to grow on top of it. As you can see the aqueduct never crosses Dowles Brook and is some distance from it - so if the newspaper article is correct the Modder River was a northern tributary to Dowles Brook and possibly the one just about visible in the first photo!
The distinct white line just to the south-east of Trimpley Reservoir is it crossing the River Severn as shown in this photo:
My last encounter with Dowles Brook was about 20 years ago when it was nothing like the Modder River and I am pretty sure it wasn't when I camped near it 40 years earlier. I wonder if the "real" Modder River was the River Severn.
Incidentally Smethwick has a Mafeking Road, Kimberley Road, Kitchener Road & Belmont Road all built at the right time but no Ladysmith Road.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Moranthorse1
You may well be right that the River Severn was the real "Modder River" of the navvies' folklore. Perhaps author Edwin George was a little misinformed?
The river conditions of history are now brought to mind with the current Storm Babet, which we are just getting the tail end of here, so watch out Bridgnorth, Bewdley and Ironbridge, the usual deluge may be on the way!