Vyrnwy supplies lots of Liverpool's water.
l847, Liverpool promoted the Liverpool Water Act, which allowed
it to look for water outside the city limits. Additionally, the
city took over the local sewerage boards and appointed James Newlands
as City Engineer. To replace groundwater supplies, surface reservoirs
had to be built.
first of these was at Rivington Pike, 30 kilometres to the northeast,
at the foot of the Rossendale Hills. The Rivington reservoirs are
on the western flank of the Pennines, below Anglezarke Moor, occupying
a deep valley. The Dam project was passed in l847, but it was highly
controversial and battles raged between the "Pikists", the supporters
and the "Antipikists".
Pike in a fault line valley from Anglezarke Moor.
matter was resolved by the celebrated railway engineer George Stephenson,
and the project went ahead. In August l857, the first water from
Rivington was delivered to Green Lane in Liverpool. It was brown
at first, and had to be mixed with clean well water to make it more
there are 8 impounding reservoirs at Rivington, with a total storage
of over 4,000 million gallons from a modest catchment of 9,710 acres.
Demand soon outstripped the Rivington supply, and in l866 Liverpool’s
Water Engineer, Mr. Duncan, investigated alternative surface supplies
from the Lake District, the Pennines and Wales.
Celyn - which became a reservoir to supply Liverpool with
Chapel - 1963
© Liverpool Records Office, Liverpool Libraries.
l879 it was decided to build a dam at Vyrnwy. The first stage was
completed in 1892, the dam took 10 years to complete fully as additional
catchments were added. The acqueduct to bring the water from Wales
to Liverpool was a major feat of engineering, and took the form
of cast iron pipes underground.
first water from there was delivered directly to Green Lane, in
Liverpool, and then piped to consumers. The water was brown, and
clean well water had to be mixed in to make it more palatable.
l865, a drought threatened supplies, and by September of that year
the situation was so acute that domestic supplies were reduced to
one or two hours a day. The drought had a disastrous impact on trade,
and health, in Liverpool. Public baths and wash houses were closed,
and epidemics claimed many lives… the situation was relieved somewhat
by the autumn rainfall.
for water at Llyn Celyn in 1963.
Image © Liverpool Records Office, Liverpool Libraries.
great drought struck in l884 and indeed, a hose pipe ban was imposed
- sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
River Dee has also been exploited as a source of water for the city,
performing the same function as the Vyrnwy aqueduct in conveying
water to the urban areas of the North West. The headwaters of the
Dee contain a series of lakes in which water is stored to regulate
the flow of the river so that a steady supply of water can be abstracted
north east and south west valve chambers from Lake Vyrnwy.
service reservoirs were constructed to provide short term supplies.
They were usually built in elected locations so that water could
flow downhill, under gravity, saving the cost of pumping.
diagram of how the local service reservoirs worked.
© Jim Moore
still exist as they were built - the one in Reservoir Road, Woolton,
the highest in the city, Dudlow Lane, next to the Halfway House
in Woolton Road and Aubrey Street which includes a listed water
tower. Some have been put to new use, including High
Park Street, presently undergoing renovation as a community
space, thanks to Dingle 2000.