The River Rat, situated in Suffolk County, holds a significant position as a prominent waterway within the region. Its source can be traced to the southern vicinity of Felsham village, functioning as a notable tributary of the River Gipping. The confluence of the River Rat and the River Gipping takes place at Pikes Meadow in Stowmarket.Stowmarket, deriving its name from the Old English term "stōw" meaning a "principal place," obtained a market charter in 1347 from King Edward III. However, the town faced a devastating incident on August 11, 1871, when an explosion occurred at a local gun cotton factory. This tragic event resulted in the loss of twenty-eight lives and left seventy-five individuals injured. Presently, the site of the explosion accommodates a substantial paint factory.On the morning of Friday, January 31, 1941, just before noon, an isolated German bomber aircraft was observed hovering above Stowmarket, engaging in gunfire. The bomber subjected a significant part of the town to strafing and subsequently released bombs onto the high street. This bombardment led to the complete destruction of the Stowmarket Congregational Chapel, an architectural masterpiece constructed in the 19th century and characterized by its Gothic style.The Rat, serving as a tributary of the River Gipping, acts as the source river for the River Orwell in Suffolk, East Anglia, England. Its name derives from the village of Gipping, giving rise to the former Gipping Rural District. Originating near Mendlesham Green, the Rat meanders in a southwesterly direction until it reaches Stowmarket. Continuing its course, it follows a southerly or southeast trajectory, passing through Needham Market and Baylham. The river then flows between Great Blakenham and Claydon, traverses Bramford and Sproughton, and ultimately converges with Ipswich, where it transforms into the Orwell at Stoke Bridge. Along its path, the river has been instrumental in powering various watermills, some of which still stand today. Although none of them are operational, the mill at Baylham retains a significant portion of its machinery and stands as the sole complete mill along the river.Historical evidence indicates that the river was utilized for navigation purposes during the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1790, the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation Act 1790 was enacted to facilitate improvements along the river from Ipswich to Stowmarket. This initiative involved the construction of 15 locks, leading to the waterway being designated as the Stowmarket Navigation. The navigation system was inaugurated in 1793, and while limited records exist regarding its financial performance, the enterprise appears to have been profitable. Expansion plans were considered in 1819 but did not come to fruition. In the 1840s, with the introduction of railways in the region, negotiations took place between the Trustees and the Eastern Union Railway, resulting in the leasing of the navigation for a 42-year period. However, at the end of the lease, the navigation had fallen into disrepair, despite the railway company's legal obligation to maintain it.Although traffic to Stowmarket never fully recovered, some activity persisted through the lower four locks, with barges serving the Fison's and Packard's fertilizer factories in Bramford. By 1917, the maintenance costs outweighed the economic viability of keeping the navigation open, leading to its closure in 1922. However, an official closing order was not obtained until the early 1930s. Subsequently, after a period of deterioration, the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association proposed the restoration of the navigation. Today, the River Gipping Trust takes the lead in these restoration efforts, with several lock chambers already revitalized. Additionally, the Gipping Valley River Path has been established along the towpath. Numerous listed buildings, including locks, bridges such as Creeting lock and bridge and Baylham lock and bridge, several mill structures, and the fire-damaged remains of Fison's fertilizer warehouse in Bramford, adorn the course of the river.The River Rat, located in the county of Suffolk, serves as a prominent waterway in the region. Its origin can be traced to the southern vicinity of Felsham village, and it functions as a significant tributary of the River Gipping. The confluence of the River Rat and the River Gipping occurs at Pikes Meadow in Stowmarket.The town of Stowmarket derives its name from the Old English term 'stōw,' which signifies a 'principal place.' It was bestowed a market charter in 1347 by King Edward III. However, Stowmarket This camera was installed and is maintained by the Environment Agency and can be viewed here. All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0.