BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in May 2008We've left it here for reference.More information

1 October 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
your place and mine
Your Place & Mine Radio Ulster Website

BBC Homepage
BBC Northern Ireland
home
antrim
Armagh
Down
Fermanagh
Londonderry
tyrone
greater Belfast
topics
coast
contact ypam
about ypam
help

print versionprint version










Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

A Century of Water from the Mournes - a concise history

In 1891, Belfast, which three years earlier had been conferred a City, was expanding rapidly.

ML 1030

writeAdd a new article
contribute your article to the site

POST A COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE
read replies to this article

A Century of Water from the Mournes - a concise history

Article by Jacqui Thompson

The first stages 1891-1901

In 1891, Belfast, which three years earlier had been conferred a City, was expanding rapidly. The population, which stood at 25,000 in 1808 had by 1891 exploded to around 270,000 due to the high level of industrial activity. Those in charge of providing water to the City - the Belfast City and District Water Commissioners - were becoming increasingly worried about the level of resource available to service industry as well as ordinary townsfolk.

Belfast City Hall under construction in 1901
Belfast City Hall under construction in 1901
.

With expert help from distinguished Civil Engineer, Mr Luke Livingstone Macassey, they began immediate investigations to find 'a suitable area from which a plentiful additional supply of good and pure water might be obtained' to take them well into the 20th century. After surveying five sites, Macassey recommended the Mournes, advising that with its plentiful rainfall, this area could deliver 30 million gallons of water a day.

The Silent Valley, then known as 'Happy Valley', before the Dam building began.
The Silent Valley, then known as "Happy Valley", before the Dam building began.

Recognising the fact that Belfast would not require such an amount of water immediately, Macassey proposed a scheme that could be developed in three stages and so the plans for the new Mourne Water Supply Scheme were born.

Private Acts of Parliament passed in 1893, 1897 and 1899 allowed the Commissioners to purchase the necessary 9,000 acres of mountain catchment within the Mournes and acquire the appropriate wayleaves and water rights to enable Macassey's scheme to get underway.

Work started almost immediately and by 1901 water from Mourne was flowing through the newly hand-built conduit, tunnels and pipeline to a new service reservoir at Knockbracken near Carryduff. The first stage of Macassey's Mourne Scheme was complete.

The Knockbracken Reservoir near Carryduff circa 1950
The Knockbracken Reservoir near Carryduff circa 1950

Three years later, in 1904 work began on the building of the now famous Mourne Wall to define the boundary of the 9,000-acre catchment area. Providing welcome employment to men in the area, building work was only carried out during the months of April to October and the wall took 18 years to complete by hand.

The Mourne Wall runs for 22 miles encircling the catchment area
The Mourne Wall runs for 22 miles encircling the catchment area




...Return to celebration page Go to next section...


read replies to this article
Use the form below to post comments on this article
Your Comments
Your Name (required)
Your Email (optional)
 



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy