The first reservoir to be built on the site covered an area of around 3½ acres and was constructed by local mill owners on land owned by Lord Dartmouth. Usually known as Lingards Reservoir and sometimes as Deer Hill Reservoir, this is the reservoir marked on the first O.S map which was surveyed circa 1849. The map appears to show the reservoir draining into Bradley Brook which flows down through Holt Head towards Slaithwaite.
By the 1860s, the old reservoir had fallen out of use.
Under the terms of Huddersfield Water Act of 1869, the first sod of the new Deer Hill Reservoir was cut in August 1870, and this incorporated the existing reservoir. The civil engineers on the project were Thomas Hawksley of London and George Crowther (senior partner of Messrs. G & G.H. Crowther) of Huddersfield.
The foundation stones of the shaft and culvert was laid on 21 September 1871 by the first Mayor of Huddersfield, C.H. Jones.
The navvies working on at both Deer Hill and Blackmoorfoot went on strike in February 1872 over working hours.
At the end of 1873, the expenses to date on the construction were reported by the Huddersfield Chronicle:
|Purchase of land and buildings||367||7||3|
|Locomotive, rails, sleepers, cranes, carts, waggons, pumps, chains, &c.||1866||13||2|
|Erection of temporary buildings||89||2||10|
|Keep of horses||441||10||0|
|Carriage of plant and materials||433||14||10|
|Construction of Deerhill New Road||128||4||3|
|Bricks, lime, and cement||289||4||9|
|Iron and steel||85||14||0|
Work was completed by 1875 and the reservoir was filled to capacity in September of that year with 158,000,000 gallons of water.
In 1882, solicitor Joseph Milnes brought an successful action against Huddersfield Corporation at the Yorkshire Summer Assizes held at Leeds. Evidence was heard that the acidic nature of the water in both Deer Hill and Blackmoorfoot reservoirs was corroding the lead water pipes and leading to symptoms of lead poisoning. Substantial damages of £2,000 were award.
Heavy rain in mid-October 1892 caused Deer Hill Reservoir to overflow, which in turn caused damage to the stream bed of Bradley Brook.
The quality of the water was improved by the construction in 1899 of three adjoining filter beds which covered an area of ¾ of an acre to the northeast of the reservoir. These were reportedly able to filter 1,250,000 gallons a day.