RESTORATION REPAIRS REACH HALFWAY POINT AS CANAL CHARITY PROTECTS NATION’S HISTORIC WATERWAYS
Winterburn Reservoir, which opened 130 years ago this month and was the last significant Victorian construction project on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, is at the halfway point of a three-month programme of essential maintenance works carried out by Canal & River Trust.
The work comes at a time when the national charity – working to protect the nation’s historic canals – is facing challenges from more extreme weather, driven by a changing climate, affecting the ageing infrastructure, and from a recently announced cut in future funding from the government.
Situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and Pennine Lancashire, the reservoir officially opened in August 1893. Today, it is a major supply of water for the Leeds & Liverpool Canal – the UK’s longest single canal – and is a valuable green open space for people and wildlife.
Restoration works to the Grade II Listed reservoir, which will keep it in working order, is supported thanks to People’s Postcode Lottery players. Skilled stonemasons have cleaned the spillway flight by removing vegetation, deteriorated masonry and grouting. Work has begun on replacing stonework and repointing using traditional lime mortar. The vital repairs are due to complete by the end of September and build on major works undertaken at Winterburn Reservoir in 1995 to bring it in line with modern safety standards.
Stuart Sutherland, project manager at Canal & River Trust overseeing the programme of works, explained: “Our reservoirs feed our canals and maintain water levels along the inland waterways, a function proving increasingly important as we face the challenge of climate change. Winterburn Reservoir is an important Leeds & Liverpool Canal water supply and remains operational throughout the restoration programme.”
“It is a careful balance to maintain the historic integrity of this 130-year-old asset to withstand the demands of the 21st century. While skilled stonemasons apply traditional lime mortaring techniques that would have been used in the construction of the reservoir, we are employing the latest innovations to lower our carbon footprint and reduce our onsite disruption with clamp-on platforms to carry out works (in place of scaffolding) and bringing in solar-powered welfare units.”
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “It’s fantastic to see the support of our players making a real difference in our communities, helping to protect important projects like the Winterburn Reservoir. Players have raised more than £18 million awarded by Postcode Earth Trust to support and foster the conservation of our canals and waterways.
“The ongoing restoration progress at Winterburn Reservoir, as it celebrates its 130th anniversary, protects its legacy and demonstrates the commitment to safeguarding our heritage.”
Both Barrowford and Winterburn reservoirs were built in the 19th century in response to a series of droughts which led to lengthy closures on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal during its freight-carrying heyday. Winterburn Reservoir was built by engineer Edward Filliter and, on his retirement in 1887, Henry Rofe. It was connected to the canal by a 14km long pipeline, discharging at Greenberfield. The reservoir has a dam 180m long and 25m high, the Trust’s highest dam. The reservoir was officially opened in August 1893 and was the last major canal construction project. Today, it helps supply the Leeds & Liverpool Canal water and is a valuable green open space for people and wildlife.
The Trust calls on people to support their local waterway and help #KeepCanalsAlive. For more information on Canal & River Trust, including how you can support the campaign to secure adequate government funding, donate money, or volunteer to support, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
For more information about the People’s Postcode Lottery go to www.postcodelottery.co.uk