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

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 head of flow from our collecting reservoirs has such a force (700 feet O.D. at Longwood to 1,268 feet O.D. at Wessenden Head) that a direct supply from them to the consumers would burst the supply pipes in both houses and business premises. To avoid this, Break Pressure Tanks have been constructed at suitable levels and localities which serve also as Service Reservoirs, and from these, supplies of filtered water are delivered to particular districts. There are eighteen of these Service Reservoirs, as shown in the accompanying list and numbered 1 to 18, the sites of which are indicated by corresponding numbers on the Huddersfield Waterworks Map. The total capacity of the eighteen service reservoirs is 11,918,937 gallons, which together with that of nine impounding reservoirs gives a total of 1,726,918,937 gallons.

Parliamentary powers were obtained in the Acts of 1869, 71, 76 and 80 to supply certain districts outside the County Borough, and the total area now authorised to be supplied by the Corporation amounts to 51,824 acres, with a population in 1936 of 165,135. The present area of the Borough is 14,149 acres, with a population of 123,030.

Reservoir Altitude O.D. Completed / Constructed under Approximate Capacity
1 Spring Street 389 ft. Act of 1827 399,400
2 Snodley 500 ft. Mar. 14th, 1874 1,250,000
3 Lindley 750 ft. Jan. 30th, 1875 570,000
4 Longwood 433 ft. Feb. 16th, 1876 140,720
5 Gleadhill 696 ft. Nov. 4th, 1876 280,000
6 Berry Brow 525 ft. May 14th, 1879 184,000
7 Kirkburton 501 ft. July 24th, 1879 46,000
8 Hall Bower 650 ft. August, 1879 90,000
9 Golcar, Clough Head 975 ft. Nov. 2nd, 1880 280,000
10 Lingards 735 ft. July 20th, 1881 9,817
11 Cowlersley 611 ft. Sept. 4th, 1891 128,000
12 Deerhill 3 filter beds 1,096 ft. July 14th, 1900 1,134,000
13 Windy End 767 ft. May 25th, 1901 200,000
14 Scapegoat Hill 1,152 ft. Oct. 16th, 1901 1,500,000
15 Shepley 925 ft. Oct. 26th, 1904 2,000,000
16 Blackmoorfoot North 2 tanks 791 ft. January, 1916 2,087,000
17 Blackmoorfoot South 2 tanks 791 ft. October, 1918 890,000
18 Lindley, Hill Top 836 ft. December, 1922 730,000
Total capacity 11,918,937

The Lindley service reservoir was opened by the Mayor, Alderman Henry Brooke, and water was turned on on January 30th, 1875 (Fig. 50).

At Gleadhill the first sod was cut by the Mayor, Alderman J. F. Brigg, on May 18th, 1876, and completed and formally opened on November 4th, 1876.

In 1933 a Filter Station equipped with pressure filters replaced the old sand filters at Deerhill, and the three filter beds were converted into service reservoirs (Fig. 47) ; they have a total capacity of 1,134,000 gallons. To prevent pollution of the filtered water in these three tanks they were covered, in December, 1938, with a light steel and asbestos roof ; these were the first to be covered (Fig. 33a). In July of the same year it was also decided to cover in, by the same method the tank at Hall Bower. It is intended eventually to cover in the remainder. The tank at Lingards was constructed solely as a break pressure tank in connection with the supply from Deerhill.

To increase the force of flow in the mains in certain areas and at high levels, boosters have been installed, e.g., in 1928 at Berry Brow, and in 1933 boosters were installed at Lepton and Hopton.



The following table gives a comparison of Rainfall at the several reservoir stations, also at the Meteorological Station at Ravensknowle, during the ten-year period 1928 to 1937 inclusive. From this it will be seen that a slight deficiency occurred in 1929, when Blackmoorfoot was 5.20 inches below its average. The following two years (1930 and 1931) provided rainfall well in excess of the normal. The years 1932, 1933 and 1934 show a considerable deficiency with the exception of Deerhill, and the levels of the reservoirs in 1934 were the lowest on record.

January 1st to December 31st.
Registered at the rain-gauges of the Huddersfield Corporation Reservoirs and at Ravensknowle.
Raingauge Alt. O.D. Normal
1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937
Blackmoorfoot 800 ft. 43.1 48.44 37.90 51.22 49.43 41.14 34.34 35.09 52.78 47.17 33.80
Deerhill 1,149 ft. 42.8 54.72 43.15 54.57 56.67 51.38 39.48 44.99 56.32 53.68 37.87
Deerhill (new gauge) 1,149 ft. 45.0 56.27 43.13 55.70 56.50 50.15 38.43 42.74 53.74 50.65 35.47
Brow Grains 900 ft. 45.0 53.04 42.1 53.61 57.44 49.02 38.13 42.71 58.20 54.54 40.36
Wessenden Head[1] 1,270 ft. None 49.63 41.49 56.03 55.72 46.12 35.47 41.67 58.03 53.95 41.94
Wessenden[1] 1,270 ft. None 48.48 41.06 53.40 56.76 46.05 37.26 41.46 56.67 55.35 43.62
Butterley Moss[1] 1,110 ft. None 52.72 41.03 56.07 58.54 43.98 35.02 39.62 58.56 55.30 40.77
Bilberry 970 ft. 52.4 76.29 51.95 61.21 62.52 52.26 34.91 43.89 60.13 55.88 43.05
Ravensknowle 325 ft. 33.91 35.72 27.30 38.54 36.26 26.40 25.49 21.55 34.94 33.98 29.10

The following table gives the capacities of the reservoirs and their comparative heights during July, 1934 :—

Storage Reservoirs Altitude
Million Gals.
Water Levels
Million Gals.
Below T.W.L.
Blackmoorfoot 832 ft. 705 163 24' 1"
Deerhill 1,145 ft. 171 101 7' 5"
Wessenden Head 1,268 ft. 82 74 2' 1"
Wessenden 984 ft. 107 17 26' 5"
Blakeley 848 ft. 80 80 Full
Butterley 770 ft. 403 121 34' 6"
Longwood Upper 700 ft. 50 21 16' 11"
Longwood Lower 651 ft. 17 16 1' 4"
Deanhead 993 ft. 100 37 17' 0"
Totals 1,715 630

This drought applied generally for England and Wales for the twenty-one months ended July 31st, 1934, when there was a deficiency of 12½ inches ; this deficiency is the greatest on record for any period of twenty-one consecutive months. Further the sunshine and heat of the summer months of 1933 and 1934 increased evaporation to well above the normal for May to October for each of these years. On the 10th July, 1934, the water in storage in the reservoirs was reduced to 623,000,000 gallons, the lowest record for our reservoirs.

To cope with this deficiency, a special Act was passed "The Water Supplies (Exceptional Shortage Orders) Act, 1934" to continue in operation until December 31st, 1935. This conferred additional powers on Water Authorities to enable them to extend their sources of supply. An application was made to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company for water to be obtained from the Swellands Reservoir at the head of Butterley Clough. Satisfactory terms were arranged with the Company, and in July the Ministry of Health made an order (The Huddersfield Water Order, 1934) authorising the supply, and 40,648,800 gallons was liberated down Butterley Clough to Butterley Reservoir during this drought period.

Application was made to the Minister of Health in July, 1934, to modify the obligations to which the Corporation are subject as respects the discharge of compensation water from Blackmoorfoot, Deerhill, Butterley, and Deanhead Reservoirs. An estimate was made of the quantity of water required by the Corporation for the purpose of carrying out their powers and duties in regard to the supply of water for a period of forty-five days such requirements being based upon the average daily quantity supplied by the Corporation during the month of June, 1934. That if and when the level of the water for the time being in any of these reservoirs is reduced to or below the level specified in the following table the obligations of the Corporation in regard to the discharge of compensation water from that reservoir shall be entirely suspended :

Reservoir Depth below T.W.L.
Blackmoorfoot 25 feet 3 inches
Deerhill 17 feet 10 inches
Butterley 57 feet 0 inches
Deanhead 21 feet 1 inch

As shown above, none of these reservoirs reached so low a level during this extreme drought period.

To relieve the difficulty at the higher levels of supply during these drought periods, a nine inch pipe was laid in 1928 from Blakeley Reservoir (848 ft.) to the catchwater feeding Deerhill Reservoir (1,145 ft.) and through this pipe water is pumped when required. For this purpose three engines are used (Fig. 51) each of fifty horse power, and are able to pump water at the rate of one million gallons a day ; the lift of the pipe is about three hundred feet. To meet such emergencies, the Blakeley Reservoir is maintained at a high level.

The effect of the drought period in 1934 necessitated a reduction of compensation water to the riparian owners, and on July 31st of that year it was reduced by half-a-million gallons a day, which continued until November 5th when the full amount was restored. Claims were made for loss of trade and extra costs involved, by the millowners of the Meltham, Colne, and Calder Valleys, and an award was made amounting to £362 2s. 0d. The drought of 1929, though not so severe, involved the Corporation in a claim by the Meltham Mill Owners' Association for £82 2s. 4d.

In 1935, however, though there was a deficiency during seven months of the year, there were five months of excess rain which increased the average, and that, followed by a rainy year in 1936, restored the reservoirs to their normal capacity. The year 1937 was another dry year, and steps had to be taken to supplement the reservoir at Deerhill by pumping from Blakeley.

During the drought period of 1934, the following quantity of water was obtained from the shafts and bore-holes :—

Bore-hole Gallons
Brow Grains 119,211,000
Isle of Skye (Sept.-Oct.) 9,746,843
Blackmoorfoot (Oct.-Nov.) 7,033,000
Total 135,990,843

Continue to Chapter X...

Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 No normal average for this station.