History of the Huddersfield Water Supplies (1939) - Chapter VI

The following is a transcription of a historic book and may contain occasional small errors.

History of the Huddersfield Water Supplies (1939) by T.W. Woodhead

Table of Contents:




The water stored in our impounding reservoirs, both for industrial purposes and domestic supplies, is supplemented by tapping underground sources.

As in selecting the site of a reservoir, a knowledge of the geology of the district is important. For a satisfactory supply of underground water three conditions are essential :—

  1. The rock must be porous, or sufficiently jointed, to act as a reservoir, and the yield may be greater where the beds are faulted or sharply folded.
  2. The outcrop of the beds must cover a sufficient area and be able to absorb a sufficiently high rainfall.
  3. The beds must dip in the required direction and conduct the water absorbed.

The principle depends upon the hydrostatic pressure of the water percolating through the porous and jointed inclined rock, and forcing its way upward through the bore-hole to the highest level of the water-containing strata.

Underground supplies have been resorted to locally for a long period, both for domestic and industrial purposes, with varying results both in yield and quality of water obtained. Geologists are agreed that it is not possible to say from a knowledge of surface geology whether the rock at a particular site will yield water.

The formation which is of greatest importance for the supply of water in the Huddersfield District, is the Millstone Grit Series. These rocks outcrop over a large area to the west and south-west, where the rainfall is high (50–60 inches) and the beds dip gently towards the town. Unfortunately these grits have a low porosity and unless the beds are faulted or freely jointed and the joints of useful size and continuity, the yield is low and uncertain. Some of the grits examined by Professor P. F. Kendall (14) have a porosity of only two or three per cent., "no more than sufficient to wet the surface of the particles," this low porosity militates against their usefulness as sources of supply. If, however, in a boring, cores are met with which include joints with rusty surfaces, as at Wessenden Head, which suggest access of oxidising surface waters, a fair flow may be obtained. (See cores at the Museum from this bore-hole). To supply the needs of a single factory bore-holes, though not always successful, often prove a valuable asset and many have been sunk in the district for this purpose.

Our local supplies depend largely on the vertical jointing of the rocks which permit a fairly free passage of water, and in the shales along the bedding planes, but deep bore-holes have been sunk into the massive Kinderscout Grits, which gave a very poor supply.

Nevertheless good supplies of soft water have been obtained from the Rough Rock, Huddersfield White Rock, and the Middle Grits. T he lowest bed tapped is the Lower Kinderscout Grit. A good supply-was obtained from the latter beds at the Isle of Skye bore-hole, but gave a smaller yield at Deanhead.

It frequently happens that a bore-hole starting in the Coal Measures and descending to the Millstone Grits, water of a very different character is met with even within a few feet of strata. In the Coal Measures a very hard Water may be met with, while in the grits below the water is usually very soft. A remarkable feature is the large amount of sodium carbonate these grits sometimes contain, e.g., water from the Huddersfield White Rock in the boring at Rock Mills, Brockholes. This reduces the hardness below the figure which the amount of calcium carbonate in the rocks might be expected to produce. This is the bed to which the Blackmoorfoot bore-hole descends, and into which the adits are driven. An analysis is given below of the bore-hole at Rock Mills, and for comparison one from the Lower Coal Measures at the New Peace Pit, Leeds Road. Much water is available locally from beds at the latter horizon, but it is extremely hard and ferruginous and is quite unsuitable for any purpose except cooling.

Millstone Grits. Lower Coal Measures.
Analysis of Water boring at Brockholes. Analysis of Water from New Peace Pit, Leeds Road, Huddersfield.
Grains per Gallon Grains per Gallon
Silica 0.56 Silica 2.10
Magnesium Carbonate 0.26 Ferric Sulphate 17.50
Sodium Carbonate 38.92 Calcium Sulphate 51.00
Sodium Chloride 4.74 Magnesium Sulphate 20.37
Sodium Sulphate 0.18 Sodium Sulphate 27.26
Sodium Chloride 9.68
Hardness: Calculated equal to 0.47 grains of Calcium Carbonate per gallon. Hardness: Calculated equal to 54.47 grains of Calcium Carbonate per gallon.

Occasionally a bore-hole has been deepened with a view to increasing the supply when the result has been a failure. In some cases an abundant supply of water of an unsuitable quality has been encountered.

Although the water obtained from bore-holes is often a valuable, asset, we must recognise that these deep-seated sources in the Millstone Grits of the Central Pennines do not yield a supply sufficient to meet the needs of a large industrial area, and we have to depend for our main supply upon impounding schemes located in our neighbouring moorlands where as we have seen, nature has placed such a liberal supply at our disposal. All the water obtained from the boreholes for domestic use in the area of supply of the Hudders-field Corporation, is passed through filters before entering the mains.

Members of the Geological Survey and especially Dr. D. A. Wray, have ever been ready to place their expert knowledge at the disposal of the Waterworks Committee and their assistance in relation to borings has been greatly appreciated.

As an illustration of the nature of the deposits through which our local borings may pass, the following details are given of the boring at Messrs. W.T. Johnson & Sons, Bankfield Mills, Moldgreen, Huddersfield. For further details of the fossils found in this boring reference should be made to the Survey Memoir "The Country Around Huddersfield and Halifax," pages 189–191 (26).

Boring for Water.
Bankfleld Mills, Moldgrsen, Huddersfield.
Thickness Depth
Lower Coal Measures 348 ft. 6 in. Dug Well 55 0
Blue shale 94 0 149 0
Black shale with Gastrioceras carbonarium, Anthrocomya 3 0 152 0
Hard Bed Coal 1 3 153 3
Fireclay with hard ganister rock 5 9 159 0
Shale 38 6 197 6
Middle Band Coal 0 6 198 0
Sandstone 14 0 212 0
Shales with Carbonicola acuta 38 0 250 0
Soft Bed Coal 2 0 252 0
Soft Bed Flags 40 0 396 0
Shale 104 0 396 0
Black sooty shale with Gastrioceras cf. subcrenatum 4 0 400 0
Thin seam of coal 0 6 400 6
Fireclay with ganister rock 3 0 403 6
Rough Rock 116 ft. 6 in. Flaggy gritstone, rather coarse 26 4 429 10
Coal 0 2 430 0
Massive rather coarse gritstone 90 0 520 0
Alternating flags and sandy shale 58 0 578 0
Shales with think black band containing Gastrioceras crenulatum, Posidoniella 2 0 580 0
Shale 92 0 672 0
Black Shale with Gastriocecas cancellatum, Pterinopecten elegans, Lingula sp. 3 0 675 0
Soft shale 30 0 705 0
Upper Meltham Coal 0 6 705 6
Huddersfield White Rock 45 ft. 6 in. Ganisteroid sandstone 4 6 710 0
Sandstone 11 0 721 0
Sandy shale 15 0 736 0
Coal 0 6 736 6
Flagstone 14 6 751 0
Black shale 89 0 840 0
Beacon Hill Flags 40 ft. Flaggy sandstone 40 0 880 0
Pule Hill Grit 50 ft. Shale 88 0 968 0
Readycon Dean Series 113 ft. Black shale with Reticuloceras reticulatum, early mut. y Posidoniella sp. 2 0 970 0
Soft shale 29 9 999 9
Coal 0 3 1,000 0
Fireclay 4 0 1,004 0
Massive fine-grained grit 50 0 1,054 0
Sandy shale 56 0 1,110 0
Black shale with Reticuloceras reticulatum, mut p Posidoniella minor 4 0 1,114 0
Soft shales 16 0 1,130 0
Coal. Trace only 1,130 0
Ganister rock 5 0 1,135 0
Alternations of flaggy grit, flaggy sandstone and sandy shale 108 0 1,243 0
Black shale 97 6 1,340 6
Black shale with fossils — Reticuloceras reticulatum, mut. a predominant in upper part and R. reticulatum type form in lower part. Intermediate forms occur 20 0 1,360 6
Shales with plant remains 3 0 1,363 6
Thin seam of coal (about ½ inch) 1,363 6
Fireclay 1 0 1,364 6
Upper Kinderscout Grit 74 ft. Flaggy micaceous sandstone 7 0 1,371 6
Hard massive grit 67 0 1,438 6
Shaly mudstone 2 6 1,441 0
Thin band of shale with Lingula mytiloides, Myalina, Posidoniella sp. 0 6 1,441 6
Shaly mudstone 5 6 1,447 0
Thin streak of coal 1,447 0
Lower Kinderscout Grit 50 ft.+ Coarse-grained massive felspathic grit 50 0 1,497 0

A still deeper borehole is that of Messrs. T. and H. Blamires, Ltd., Leeds Road, Huddersfield. Beginning in the superficial gravels, it enters the Lower Coal Measures above the level of the Hard Bed Coal, then passing through the Millstone Grit Series, descends to the Lower Kinderscout Grits to a depth of 1,550 feet. Details of both these bore-holes are illustrated in the Tolson Memorial Museum. Alongside each section are fossils from the bore-holes, characteristic of the successive marine and freshwater bands, together with their significance in the various deposits.

The rocks revealed in these borings show a fairly constant succession of beds, e.g., grit, fireclay, coal, marine band, shale, or mudstone, and flagstone. These cycles of deposit represent a series of oscillations and breaks in the depression of the ground and successive sedimentation.

Subsidence occurred in a series of jerks and as a result of each movement an invasion of the sea occurred, leading to the formation of a bed with marine fossils. Sedimentation then overtook subsidence, leading eventually to the formation of a sandstone and finally to coarse gritstone ; subsequently followed, in several instances a land surface on which grew the plants which formed the Coal Seams.

Marine bands, sometimes only a few inches thick, crowded with remains of marine animals, are found at intervals throughout the Millstone Grits, and two or three extend into the lowest part of the Lower Coal Measures.

The marine bands are remarkably persistent, and the fossil goniatites in them show several mutations (2) in ascending the series and as one form usually predominates in a band, goniatites are of the greatest interest and importance, both in themselves and as aids to stratigraphy.

Bore-holes have been sunk by the Huddersfield Waterworks authority at four sites :— Brow Grains, Wessenden Head, Blackmoorfoot, and Deanhead.


The first bore-holes to be sunk by the Waterworks Committee were at Brow Grains, Meltham, near to the catchwater drain which runs from Royd Edge to Blackmoorfoot Reservoir, from which Huddersfield draws much of its water. The advice was sought of Mr. Henry Chesterman, a water diviner, who selected a site which runs near the line of a small fault. Here a shaft was sunk 9 feet internal diameter which extends to a depth of 171 ft. 7 ins. to the base of the Beacon Hill Flags. Nine other bore-holes were sunk, two of these in 1923 by Mr. Arthur Chesterman.

These gave only a limited yield, but subsequently a central drift, 6 ft. high and 5 ft. wide, was made and adits driven in the lower part of the Flags and connecting the nine bore-holes. These headings cut through freely-jointed strata, yielding a supply exceeding that of the nine bore-holes. This added greatly to the success of the scheme.

In 1928 a pumping station was erected, supplied with power from the Yorkshire Electric Power Company, and pumping takes place for periods of three to four weeks as required. The yield averages 45,000 gallons per hour.

For each bore-hole details are given showing the contribution made from this source of supply during the severe drought of 1934. At the bore-holes at Brow Grains, the pump was run from January to October and gave a yield of 119,211,000 gallons. Particulars of the run are given below :—

1934 Number of hours Discharge per month Average per hour
January 639 27,966,000 43,765
March 385 20,620,000 52,558
May 382 20,607,000 53,945
July 378 16,551,000 43,785
August 286 11,850,000 41,433
September 270 10,710,000 39,666
October 275 10,907,000 39,698

The average quantity pumped for this period was 45,587 gallons per hour.



This bore-hole is situated near the Huddersfield–Greenfield Road, 600 yards west of the Isle of Skye Hotel, at an elevation of 1,525 feet O.D., and on April 9th, 1929, the tender of Andrew D. Blaydon, Ltd., was accepted for its construction. The bore-hole is sunk from the Readycon Dean Series of the Middle Grits into the Lower Kinderscout Grits.

Commencing with a diameter of 24⅓ inches, on reaching 43 feet it continues at 22 inches down to a depth of 115 feet, to this depth the bore-hole is lined with solid tubing ; then it is reduced to 20 inches in the Kinderscout Grits, where it continues to a depth of 490 feet. Here the drill became jammed in the bore-hole and great difficulty was experienced in dealing with it. After much delay it was decided to engage another contractor, and at a meeting on May 10th, 1932, it was resolved "that Thos. Matthews Ltd. be engaged to recover the drill jammed in the bore-hole, and to sink the shaft to a greater depth."

At the depth of 490 feet the borehole was reduced to 12¾ inches, and at 523 feet to 11⅝ inches. Here broken grit was encountered and after clearing the bore-hole, a perforated tube was inserted, 29 feet 6 inches long, to protect the sides and allow free entrance of water to the bore-hole. The bore-hole terminates in a shale bind at a depth of 680 feet. Boring ceased July, 1933.

At a depth of 245¼ feet, a five foot adit or gallery, a quarter of a mile long was driven from the bore-hole to the tail end of Wessenden Head Reservoir. The construction of the adit was commenced January, 1931, and in August a concrete bottom Was constructed, the sides walled and the roof supported. It was completed December, 1932.

Water from the borehole is conveyed through the adit by means of a 12 inch pipe to its exit near the reservoir and is then continued to the Deerhill catchwater which commences near the overflow of the Wessenden Head reservoir, and gives off a branch to Blackmoorfoot. The water may also be conveyed as required to the Wessenden Old Reservoir.

The yield from this borehole is 90,000 gallons a day. In 1934 a Pump House was erected and on September 24th of that year, at a depth of 500 feet, an air-lift pump was installed in which compressed air passes through a set of nozzles at the lower end of a rising main below the water level, the water becomes emulsified, ascends the rising main and passes out through the adit. By pumping, a yield of more than 275,000 gallons a day is obtained. Behind the pump house, a reinforced concrete tank and a cooling tower have been erected. The yield from this bore-hole during the drought of 1934 was :—

1934 Number of hours Discharge per month Average per hour
September 160½ 2,910,383 18,195
October 656 6,836,460 10,421

The average quantity pumped over this period was 11,937 gallons per hour.


In 1930, a shaft of a diameter of 10 feet was sunk alongside the catchwater near its entrance to the reservoir. The shaft is brick lined to a depth of 64 feet, from which it continues, unlined, to a total depth of 166 feet 10 inches from the surface, down to the base of the Huddersfield White Rock. In 1931, 374 feet of headings were driven from this shaft, in three directions : a central drift 193 feet long, of which 109 feet runs S.W. of the shaft, and 84 feet to the N.E. The former gives off an adit 81 feet long to the S., and the latter, nearer its extremity, an adit at right angles to the drift, 100 feet long to the S.E.

In sinking this shaft a flow of gas was met with. A young workman on descending the shaft was overcome by the fumes and was only rescued with difficulty. The gas had the following percentage composition :—

Carbon dioxide 01.10%
Carbon monoxide 00.25%
Methane 36.90%
Oxygen 12.35%
Nitrogen 49.40%

A pumping station was installed here in 1934, worked by an oil engine. When necessary it is worked twelve hours a day, yielding about 9,000 gallons an hour, or 108,000 gallons a working day. The yield during the drought of 1934 was:—

1934 Number of hours Discharge per month Average per hour
October 5421 5,504,000 10,145
November 190 1,529,000 8,047

The average quantity pumped over this period was 9,601 gallons per hour.


In 1935, a shaft and bore-hole were constructed at Deanhead, overlooking the Reservoir and alongside the New Hey Road, S.W. of Nont Sarah's Hotel, and near the Slaithwaite–Scammonden Boundary, at an elevation of 1,265.4 feet O.D.

This bore-hole descends to near the base of the Upper Kinder-scout Grits, which are here 309 feet from the surface and about 300 feet in thickness. The shaft is brick lined, has an internal diameter of 9 feet, and extends to a depth of 360 feet, from which an adit, 6 feet by 4 feet, is driven for a length of 120 feet.

From the bottom of the shaft, a bore-hole 18 inches in diameter, is carried down a distance of 302 feet, giving a total depth from the surface to the bottom of the bore-hole of 662 feet.

A continuous pumping test was carried out between the 1st to the 10th April, 1937. The water level at the commencement was 136 feet down, and at the completion 290 feet. The total quantity pumped was 1,576,510 gallons, giving a yield of 7,263 gallons per hour over the whole period. A permanent pumping station has not been erected at this borehole.

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