Scammonden Valley: A Short Guide by Huddersfield Corporation

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Cover designed by Philip Yates of the Waterworks Department

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Scammonden has always been an attractive valley, with a wild and rugged beauty of its own, and for many years ramblers have enjoyed tramping its byeways and footpaths. Things have changed in the last decade and many of the old foot- paths, indeed many of the old landmarks, have disappeared for ever. Man has changed the environment, he has even altered the skyline, and a once remote valley is now dominated by reservoir and motorway. Nevertheless, beauty and delight are still to be found and one does not have to wander far from the ever restless traffic to find peace on the high moorlands or beside the wide expanse of Scammonden Water.

This booklet is for those who seek such peace, to help the discerning discover, or even rediscover, the secrets of the valley, to awaken interest and perhaps point the way to further exploration. It is not possible to mention everything; some things have been omitted because of space, but doubtless other omissions are due to ignorance. If therefore you should spot something unusual, a rare flower, a strange bird, an odd fossil, or anything else, please make a point of letting someone know about it, either by speaking to one of the reservoir keepers or by dropping a note to one of the local societies or to the Waterworks Offices, 9, Manchester Road, Huddersfield HD1 2LX.


Some of the more important engineering statistics are shown on page 9 and they can speak for themselves. Let us, however, take a walk, starting where the Queen inaugurated Scammonden Water, at the giant compass, with its central lamp standard, which we have reached by the western underpass or down

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numerous drains, channels, manholes, weirs and gauges, all of which have their part to play in the proper functioning of the dam. There is a small sewage treat- ment works, which helps to protect the reservoir from bacterial pollution and, nestling into the hillside is a pumping station. From this, water can be pumped, either up to the higher Deanhead reservoir or, when Scammonden is low, back through to the Colne Valley, via the 1% mile long Bradshaw Tunnel, which is normally used to feed water into the reservoir. Nothing of the tunnel can be seen from the dam, but the observant may notice one of the shafts well up the valley beyond the Sailing Club and, at times of low water may see the tunnel mouth it- self. Looking through the windows of the pumping station even those who are not technically minded will be able to spot the six vertical spindle pumps, each crowned on the floor above with its electric motor. The separate stages of each pump are clearly visible and, since each stage boosts pressure, the more stages the bigger the boost and the larger the diameter the greater the capacity.

The enthusiastic may now run lightly, and without pause, up the 459 steps to the track along the top of the embankment. Most of us, however, will be glad to pause and, looking back, admire the magnificent view down the valley towards Elland and Halifax. If time, and the knees, allow we can turn right at the top and recross the motorway via the western underpass. This is a much simpler structure than the one we first used but it is large enought to take a farm tractor and quite adequate for its purpose. To complete the circuit of the reservoir will take another hour for the less active. There are many avenues of interest to explore and to some of these other pages of this booklet point, but apart from two small sewage pumping stations en route there is only one more engineering structure to see. This is the Deanhead dam at the head of the valley; not modern like the rest of the Scammonden Scheme but certainly worthy of note. It was built in 1840 and sold to the Huddersfield Corporation in 1913 for little more than a four hundredth part of the cost of Scammonden. In basic construction it is very similar, though to the expert eye there are significant differences; spare a thought, however, for the men and the horses who daily toiled up those slopes a hundred and forty years ago, with no machines to help them.

Having walked around the reservoir and seen something of the dam and its associated works we may wonder, as others have done, why such a walk is pos- sible. So often in the past Waterworks have been kept strictly private and no one has been admitted, except on business. We may wonder too why dinghies are permitted to sail upon the water or sheep and cattle allowed to graze contentedly near by. The answer is complex. Attitudes change; with increasing population and increasing leisure, there is a need for fuller use of our environment and a greater awareness of the need to protect it. Good husbandry improves the land, makes it more fertile and better cared for, and above all modern technology enables us to treat the water more adequately and keep it safe for human consumption. In the last analysis, however, we have an individual responsibility and must ail help to preserve the purity of the water and the beauty of our surroundings by respecting what we now enjoy.

Keep dogs under control 3

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Standing in Scammonden Valley it is difficult to believe that the land was formed under the sea some 250 million years ago. The great Carboniferous Period started with the formation of enormously thick beds of limestone laid in deep, clear water, which covered a large part of the British Isles. The sea bed then began to rise and eventually a land mass, comprised mainly of granite, appeared well to the north forming a coast line which stretched as far as Scandinavia. The mountains of this land were gradually weathered away and washed down to the sea by ancient rivers to be deposited in the shallow water in conditions very similar to the great deltas of the Nile and Mississippi. The debris was slowly compressed to become the grit stones for which the district is renowned - the Millstone Grit Series. One of these beds of rock has been named the Upper Kinderscout Grit and is visible in the stream bed below the Deanhead embankment and, because of faulting, below the Scammonden embankment. This period was followed by a time of up and down movement of the sea bed. In geological terms this movement was erratic and fairly rapid, with the result that the next series of rocks consists of alternate beds of shale formed in deeper water and more grit stone formed in shallow water. Indeed the water became so shallow at times that forests were able to flourish, somewhat similar to the Everglades of Florida, and the gradual build up of rotten vegetation resulted in thin beds of coal and fireclay being formed. It is this particular series of rocks that predominates in the Scammonden Valley. The gritstones (Scotland Flags) are visible in several places, for example behind the Deanhead Church where a marked geological fault resulted in considerable ground movement in the past, and at the side of the foot- path down to the valve tower. The shales are very badly broken and on exposure to the weather they tend to break down into a slippery clayey material.

The Carboniferous Era ended with the formation of the Coal Measures above the Millstone Grit series but the action of millions of years of weathering has completely removed these from this immediate area.

One of the disappointing features of the rock formations in this valley is the scarcity of fossils compared with the teeming beds of the Carboniferous Limestone to the north, or the Coal Measures to the east. The imprint of a badly preserved leaf or tree branch is about all one can expect to meet in this area. The exception is a series of narrow beds of shale called marine bands which were formed during a period when the water was more salt. These beds contain a fossil called a Goniatite, an animal which lived in a hard flat spiral shell, One of these beds occurs a few feet above the top of the Kinderscout Grit and contains a type of Goniatite called Reticuloceras Reticulatum (mutation

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Although the first known written mention of the name Scammonden does not appear until 1275 (in the Wakefield Court Rolls) it would seem from the makeup of the word itself that its origins go back much further. The first part seems to be a Scandinavian personal name “Skambani” formed from the Old Norse words ‘Skammer’ (short/brief) and ‘bani’ (slayer) and the second part comes from the Old English ‘denu’ (valley).

Lying west of Huddersfield, Scammonden Valley was deeply secluded and cut off from the Colne Valley by a ridge of great height. Along this ridge ran the Roman road from Manchester (Mancunium), passing on its way other Roman communities at Castleshaw and Slack and enabling communication with York. In AD 79-80 Agricola reputedly founded the fort at Slack which covered about three acres and held a regiment of five hundred men. The accommodation included barracks for centurions and men, a fine bath house, granaries and even a cemetery. The fort seems to have been abandoned c.AD 122 and the garrison took with it all articles of value. During the years of occupation the local inhabitants were leniently treated and some examples of British manufacture have been found, thus emphasis- ing the close links between native and invader.

Four centuries after the Roman withdrawal saw renewed invasions, this time from northern Europe. The story of the Angles and Danes in this district would fill a book. and so suffice it to say that there is evidence for Scandinavian occupation of the Scammonden district, notably the name itself as already mentioned.

Of the years up to the sixteenth century there is little evidence relating to life in the Scammonden valley. We do know, however, that the place was inhabited, for in 1301 the Archbishop of York sent a mandate to the Dean of Pontefract in respect of Elias the Smith of Skambaynden and in 1349 6s. 8d. tithe of sheaves of hay was received as the portion of Huddersfield Church.

The area in 1555 was described as

“|. grete wastes and moores, where the fertilitie of grounds ys not apte to brying forthe any. corne nor good Grasses, but in rare Places, and by exceedings and greate industrye of the inhabitantes altogether doo lyve by clothe making, for the greate parte of them neyther gette the corne nor ys hable to keepe a Horse...

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The plant life of this valley is typical of most moorland valleys of southwest Yorkshire. A wider variety of plants is to be found in the valley bottom and along the streamside than is to be found higher up the slopes where the number of species declines. Springs which arise on the valley sides create wet, boggy areas which

provide a habitat for a number of marsh plants.

In 1965, prior to the construction of Scammonden Water, a botanical survey of the area including that part which is now submerged revealed a total of 129 species of plants. The list included grasses (15 species), trees (15 species) and ferns (6 species). Most of these plants are quite common and no doubt could still be found elsewhere in the valley, particularly downstream from the reservoir embank-


Some of the more interesting plants of the valley are listed below.


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Contrary to the impression of most people an area such as Scammonden can Sustain quite a number of birds. The list published below is a positive one at present, but it is always possible that other species may be added, due to the additional facilities to visit the area to make observations.

Sailing activities may preclude the wading and diving species from using the reservoir even when the aquatic foods become available - but as every observer knows, there is always the chance that ducks, swans or geese may use Scammonden

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The plan submitted by the Landscape Architect for the Scammonden area provided for the planting of some 70 acres of woodland in small plots of 2 - 5 acres with about 40 groups of standard trees (5° - 7° tall) spaced out in the remaining pasture land and as screens for car parks. These tree groups vary from ten to forty trees spaced irregularly at about 9° spacing. The woodland areas are planted with young tree transplants 12 - 18” high at about 5° spacing, made proof against cattle and rabbits by a post and wire and netted fence.

The choice of species for planting is a fairly narrow one. The altitude of the site, the severe exposure to wind, and the poor soil, limit the choice to the hardier trees, both deciduous and coniferous. On the lower ground where the soil is deeper and the sites more sheltered, the main species planted are Sycamore and Beech, usually with a belt of Mountain Ash and Silver Birch on the windward side, hardy and quicker growing trees to shelter the remainder. Some small groups of Red Oak, _ Ash, Wych Elm, and Horse Chestnut are included to provide variety, particularly along road and path sides. On the high ground where the soil is thin and stony, the Canadian Lodgepole Pine is the main species planted, mixed with Silver Birch in some areas and varied with some groups of Larch in the more sheltered places on the high ground. The Lodgepole Pine is similar to our Native Scots Pine in appearance but it accepts much worse soil conditions and is exceptionally hardy.

The: groups of standard trees are mainly of Sycamore varied with Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Silver Birch, Alder, Holly, Weeping Willow and Goat Willow according to the position of the group.

_ Although two small woodland plots were planted in the spring of 1971 the work has been planned to be completed in the four years 1972/75. In 1972 plantations at the southern end of the valley were planted along with the groups of standards in the same areas. In 1973 the plantations on the west side were completed. The land below the dam on the north side will be planted in 1974 and the planting of the east side of the valley will complete the scheme in 1975. On completion, approximately 100,000 trees will have been planted in the woodland plots and some 2,000 standard trees planted in groups.

With the remaining pasture land in the valley constantly improving with intensive grazing, the appearance, in years to come, will be of green parkland and well wooded slopes by the side of Scammonden Water.

8 Guard against fire risks

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The average rainfall over the catchment area is 52” per annum.

Unfortunately for the water engineer 18” of this escapes in the form of evaporation or deep percolation leaving only 34” to fill the reservoir.

The area of catchment in the Scammonden Valley is 1,650 acres, and this is supplemented by the Colne Valley catchment of 3,350 acres Making a total of 5,000 acres. This rainfall on such an area yields 8.7 m.g.d. After allowing for the compensation water and the yield of the old Deanhead Reservoir the net amount of water available from Scammonden Water is 6.0 m.g.d.

The Reservoir

The area of the water surface when the reservoir is full is 104 acres Level of the bellmouth spillway above sea level is 826 feet. The maximum depth of water is

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One of the most enjoyable features of Scammonden Water is the sight of the colourful sails of the dinghies which gracefully tack back and forth most weekends. There is a fine public car park situated high above the dam from which spectators may obtain an excellent view of the water. The following is a guide which may help to identify some of the classes of dinghies sailed on Scammonden Water.


Af — RED

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With the advice of the Royal Automobile Club the road to the pump house on the downstream side of the dam has been designed to provide a speed hill climb course, which is approximately 550 yards in length and rises some 225 ft. with two left-hand and two right-hand bends. A steel armco barrier has been erected on the dangerous bends as a safety measure, with one of the petrol companies providing a large portion of the money for this. The terrain of the hillside provides excellent view- ing for spectators and car park facilities are provided in the fields adjacent to the public car park. The Huddersfield Motor Club intends to organise at least three or four events during each year, with the dates for 1973 being as follows:-

Sunday 6th May. Sunday Tst July. Sunday 16th September.

The event on 1st July will be a round of the B.A.R.C. - Castrol Hill Climb Championship and will attract competitors from all parts of the country.

The Club hopes gradually to improve the facilities with a view to making this one of the top hill climb venues in the North.


There has been a church at Deanhead for over 350 years, the present building being the third to occupy the site. The first was a timbered building, though some stone was undoubtedly incorporated in it, as a fragment still remains in the entrance to the present church. It reads:- Edmund Robinson caused this chapel to be made and gave towards a preaching minister there ten pounds yearly for ever. God be praised. Anno domini 1615 T.D.

The second church was opened in 1813, but 50 years later, with worshippers having to sit in double rows down the aisle, it was obviously too small. Since, by that time it was also showing signs of dilapidation, it was pulled down to make way for the present structure. Between demolition and rebuilding a large tent which had survived the recent Crimean War, was pitched in the Church yard and one of the grave-stones served as a pulpit. The new church differed from the one we now know in that it had a tapering spire, but, following a violent gale not long after the consecration ceremony, this crashed through the roof and was never replaced.

The church has, over the years, had its memorable characters. There was an 18th century curate called John Ramsden, perhaps one of the Ramsden family who originated from the same valley and who became so well known in Huddersfield. He is remembered for the clogs he wore when walking to church from his home at Triangle. There was Rev: Stephen Lampen who, having been to sea as a midshipman, won one lifelong supporter by knocking him down after a stand-up fight. This converted soul used to sit with his mates at the back of the church passing a pot of ale along the pew during the sermon. In 1937 the parishioners, individualistic as ever, made history by going on strike, but perhaps the less said about that the better.

Space is too short to tell of many others, but the curious may care to look at

the east end of the church yard for a large flat stone with the simple inscription “In memory of Uncle Ben”.

Leave no litter 11

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The map opposite shows, among other things, the amenity proposals in the valley, many of which have yet to be completed. It is possible to visualise other uses for such an area and the Water Authority is receptive to suggestions and new

ideas, remembering always that the water supply interest is, and must remain, paramount.

Not all the footpaths shown on the map have been laid out and the walker is asked to keep to those which have been signposted.

This guide is an experiment. If it is successful future editions can perhaps, with your help, be improved. If you have any special knowledge of the valley

which could be useful for future publications please let the Water Authority know.

Thanks are due to all the contributors who so willing helped and advised. 12

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Compiled by Huddersfield Corporation Waterworks Printed by Huddersfield Corporation Stationery Department

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