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The Rushden Echo, 6th July, 1906, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Rushden & Higham Ferrers Water Supply

Formal Opening of The New Works

An Expenditure Of Over £100,000 - Congratulatory Speeches At The Luncheon

  Mr. George Denton, C.C., chairman of the Joint Water Board for Higham Ferrers and Rushden, in the presence of a large and influential company formally “turned on the tap” at the Sywell Waterworks on Monday, thus giving the towns of Rushden and Higham Ferrers their new supply of water.

  The Sywell scheme, which is one of great magnitude, was commenced in the latter half of 1903 and was practically completed by the end of 1905.  During the last six months, the water has been accumulating in the great reservoir at Sywell, and the quantity now impounded is no less than 160,000,000 gallons, or enough to supply the two towns for over 300 days.  The work has taken about 15 months longer than was originally expected, owing to a serious slip in the bank forming the dam, in September, 1904.  Experts agree that there is now, humanly speaking, no possible danger of any further slip, and the towns of Rushden and Higham Ferrers can congratulate themselves on the successful completion of a gigantic undertaking.

The Officials

  Mr. R. E. Middleton was the engineer, and the contractor was Mr. A. E. Nunn, of London, Mr. Wilson being the resident engineer.  The following are the members of the Joint Water Board:-  Messrs. G. Denton (Chairman), Owen Parker, J.P. (vice-chairman), T. Patenall, C. S. R. Palmer, John Claridge, C.C., J. S. Clipson, F. Ballard, A. Mantle, and T. Swindall.  The whole of these gentlemen were present at the opening ceremony on Monday, and among those also present were :- Ald. Spong, Ald. S. Pack, Councillors F. Walker, W. Newman, F. H. Martin, A. Pack, C. W. Perkins, W. H. Gadsby, J. H. Johnson, A. E. Wright, and F. Brazier (members of the Higham Ferrers Town Council);  Councillors F. Knight, J.P., C. Bates, W. Bazeley, G. H. Skinner, A. J. Dobbs, and J. Hornsby (Rushden Urban Council).  Dr. Paget (County Medical Officer of Health), Dr. Crew and Dr. Morris (Medical Officers of Health for Higham Ferrers and Rushden respectively), Dr. Greenfield, Dr. Owen, Major H. M. Stockdale, Messrs. R. G. Scriven, C.C., T. A. Dickson (agent for Lady Wantage), J. Brown, J.P.,  E. Parsons (chairman of the Irchester Parish Council), A. Allebone (chairman of the Earls Barton Parish Council), W. B. Madin (Town Surveyor of Rushden), A. E. Lloyd (Borough Surveyor of Higham Ferrers), G. S. Mason (Clerk to the Joint Water Board), F. J. Simpson (Deputy Town Clerk of Higham Ferrers), J. W. Ashdowne, W. Hensman, C. B. Fisher, C. J. K. Woolston, J.P., Willan Jackson, E. Madin (assistant surveyors, Rushden), John Sargent (collector, Rushden), R. Marriott, C. Claridge, John S. Mason, W. G. Willmott, E. Croft, S. Powell, C. W. Wing, W. L. Betenson, W. Ballard (Rushden), T. Browning, A. Marriott, T. H. Betenson, P. Gadsby (Higham Ferrers), E. Green, G. F. Bearn (Wellingborough), W. Sprott (Water Board’s Engineer), W. H. Thompson and R. B. Cartwright (Fitzwilliam Estate, Higham).  Letters of regret for absence were received from Messrs. A. H. Sartoris, J.P., T. B. Woodforde, W. R. D. Adkins, M.P., Paul Cave, R. R. B. Orlebar, J.P., G. L. Gibson, Pratt Walker, C.C., R. Smith, G. Miller, A. Franklin, C. Jolley, T. W. C. Linnett, G. H. Groome, and Supt. Alexander.

Description Of The Works

The land for the works was purchased from Lady Wantage, Major-General Sotheby, and Major Stockdale. The contract price was £65,000 and it was hoped to complete the work within two years. A very wet season, however, in 1903 occasioned much delay. Gradually a dam from hill to hill, was constructed at the Ecton end of the valley. A trench had to be dug some twenty feet deep, and a wall of puddle clay erected so as to make the dam absolutely water tight.

  Very good progress was made until September 17th, 1904, when a slip occurred in the middle of the dam, and on the reservoir side.  Immediately steps were taken to remedy the evil, numbers of men were drafted from Northampton, and work was carried on day and night for some time.  A trench was cut right into the puddle bank to see if the water had penetrated there and caused the slip.  It was evident, however, that this was not the case.  The damage was repaired, the material being rolled, and the dam strengthened.

  As an extra precaution, the dam where the slip occurred was strengthened by a large buttress, giving it an increase in weight of 50,000 tons.  The danger of another slip is, therefore, practically outside the range of possibility.  Gradually the height of the dam was then increased to the necessary level, and finished.

  The length of the dam is 1,000 feet, and at the bottom it is 353 feet deep.  The width at the top is fourteen feet, and a gravel path runs from one end to the other.  The greatest height of the puddle wall is about 70 feet.

  There are two streams running into the reservoir, one coming down from Sywell, the other coming from Sywell Wood and past Wood Lodge Farm, entering the reservoir at the Mears Ashby side.

  The drainage area amounts to about 1,800 acres, and the reservoir holds, when full, 230 million gallons of water.

  Rising prominently from the reservoir is a valve tower into which the water passes. From there it is taken by means of two ten –inch pipes through the tunnel. One of these pipes, the service pipe, is taken from the north end of the filters to the outlet basin, from which the supply is given to the filters. There are three filters, each of them 55 feet by 110 feet, and after the water has percolated through these it flows into the clear tank. This tank is circular, is 70 feet in diameter, and six feet deep, and is lined with white enamel bricks.  From the clear water tank the water flows by gravitation to the suction well at the engine house, and from there it is pumped by two powerful gas engines through nearly eleven miles of 11-inch rising mains to the service reservoir on the Bedford-road, above Rushden.  This reservoir, which is covered is 120 feet by 96 feet inside and 12 feet deep, and holds over 800,000 gallons.  The water then flows to the houses of the consumers.

  The floor level of the service reservoir is 327 feet ordinance.  The level of Higham Ferrers Market-place is about 232 feet ordinance, and the level of the road near the Church in Rushden about 200 feet ordinance.  From the service reservoir 12-inch pipes run down into Rushden, stopping near the Vestry Hall, where an 8-inch pipe is taken right through Higham Ferrers.  Three-inch distributing pipes have been laid throughout the greater part of Higham Ferrers.

  The chief stream at Sywell is of remarkable volume.  The purest water is always taken, and to ensure this there are three inlets into the valve tower.  The reservoir is about 40 feet deep at its greatest depth.  There is an overflow at the west end to discharge the rainfall when the reservoir is full, and the water is led away by a concrete channel as a by-wash of about 1,500 feet length.  The dam has been faced with concrete slabs to prevent the wave action damaging it.

  An interesting feature of the undertaking is the device for dealing with the sewage from Sywell, which after treatment in filter beds is taken across the valley in iron pipes on brick piers for about one-and-a-half miles, thus avoiding any chance of contamination.

  Gas is manufactured at the waterworks, and the two engines – one a duplicate of the other – are each of about 46 horse power.

The Luncheon

  A well-served luncheon, provided by Mr. G. Nichols, of Northampton, was partaken of in a marquee at the waterworks.  Mr. G. Denton presided and the whole of those already named were present.

The Undertaking

  After the loyal toast from the chair, Mr. T. A. Dickson gave “Success to the HighamFerrers and Rushden Water Undertaking.”  Mr. Dickson explained that he had to take the place of Mr. Ryland Adkins, M.P., who was unable to be present, and he proceeded to congratulate the towns of Higham Ferrers and Rushden upon their great enterprise.  It was no small matter for two towns of their size to go a distance of ten miles for water, and there had not only been the difficulty of raising the money and waggoning the scheme, but difficulties which could not have been foreseen.  Those difficulties had been surmounted, and they now saw the lovely sheet of water which was to give health and pleasure to the fortunate inhabitants of the two towns concerned.

  Hearty cheers were given for Mr. Denton, who acknowledged the toast. He said that when they first embarked on this undertaking they had no desire for a large scheme, but unfortunately it had been forced upon them in spite of themselves. He could only hope that generations to come might derive very great blessings and advantages from the water supply which they were opening that day. The new supply bade fair to meet all the wants of the district, and personally he saw no reason why the undertaking should not be a financial success in the course of a few years. (Applause.) He admitted that the expenditure of £100,000 or £110,000, which that scheme would amount to, was a very large one for two towns like Rushden and Higham Ferrers, but on the other hand, the advantages secured from a good water supply might indeed be worth the money spent upon the scheme.  (Applause.)

The Engineer And Contractor

  Mr. Owen Parker, J.P. (vice-chairman of the Water Board), proposed “The Engineer and the Contractor,” and said that such a magnificent scheme could not have been brought into being and carried to a successful issue without the great designing genius and the constructive ability of an engineer and a contractor.  They were fortunate in having a competent designer living near them in the person of Mr. R. E. Middleton, who was a man of wide experience and great reputation.  During the construction of the waterworks the members of the Water Board had passed through dark days and through periods of great dismay, but it was a consolation to the Board to find how boldly and how manfully both the contractor and the engineer had faced the dangers and the difficulties of the situation.  Probably no scheme of such magnitude as this had ever been completed with fewer disasters. (Hear, hear.)  They were very much indebted to Mr. Wilson, the resident engineer, who had been with them throughout the whole of this construction of the works, and he had not only shown great assiduity and ability, but had displayed unfailing courtesy and kindness to all with whom he had been brought into contact.  (Applause.)  He was voicing the feelings of every member of the Board when he said that Mr. Nunn, the contractor, quickly displayed his title to the complete confidence of the members, and, notwithstanding the difficulties through which they had passed, that confidence had never wavered for one moment. (Applause).  Referring to Mr. Middleton, Mr. Parker humorously remarked that the members of the Board, in their parochial way, were accustomed to weigh the expenditure of every £5, but Mr. Middleton had led them step by step from thousands to thousands, and had brought them undying fame by enabling them to become promoters of a scheme which had reached six figures.  That entitled Mr. Middleton to an expression of their warmest gratitude! (Laughter).

  Mr. Middleton, responding, said that any construction of that kind must necessarily be a source of the greatest anxiety to the engineer, and while he congratulated them that the scheme was now complete, he felt he must congratulate himself also.  He paid a high tribute to Mr. Nunn for the capable manner in which the works had been carried out.

  Mr. Nunn also replied, and said he was very thankful that the difficulties caused by the slip had been successfully got over, though at a somewhat greater expense than was originally contemplated.

The Two Towns

  Mr. Willan Jackson proposed “The Towns of Higham Ferrers and Rushden,” and said that the two places, though in many respects strikingly dissimilar, were nevertheless very typical of the county.  In Higham Ferrers they had a town which for centuries had been an ancient municipality, ruled well and wisely by those who had been called upon to hold the posts of Mayor and Corporation.  Higham was for a long time undoubtedly the principal town in East Northants.  It was not a decadent town, and they all hoped that its future might be worthy of its historic past. (Hear, hear).  With regard to the town of Rushden, they had often had to marvel at the wonderful progress it had made in their own time, springing from a comparatively unknown village until it had become one of the chief towns of Northamptonshire.  It furnished a splendid example of what industry and integrity and hard work and activity would do.  Its reputation as a town was not confined to Northamptonshire, for Rushden was well known throughout the whole of the country, and he believed the goods produced in Rushden were highly estimated throughout the world.  (Applause).

  The Mayor of Higham Ferrers (Alderman T. Patenall), in responding said that five years ago, when he held that same office of Mayor, it was hid duty to bring this great water scheme before the Higham Ferrers Town Council.  The feeling of the whole Council was that a water scheme was essential to the health, happiness, and prosperity of the town, and it was with that feeling that they embarked upon this great scheme.  They had previously had one or two trials, which however, were entire failures, and it was almost unanimously decided to embark with their friends at Rushden upon this great enterprise.  As a Water Board they had gone through some difficulties, but they had tried to play the game fairly and squarely and well, and now that the score was up, he hoped they would never regret it.  Speaking of the town of Higham Ferrers, he said he felt proud of the place of his birth.  They wanted a great wave of prosperity for Higham, such as came to Rushden 25 years ago.  They had many things to make speculators come to Higham.  Formerly it was difficult to buy land at Higham, but now they could get land on every hand.  They could boast of being the healthiest town in the neighbourhood, their death rate being the lowest in the district, and now they had an abundant supply of water of the highest and best quality.  They now wanted one or two new industries, which would help them to meet the demands made upon them by this great scheme.  (Hear, hear).

  The toast was also acknowledged by Mr. T. Swindall, who said that when told three or four years ago that the scheme would cost £70,000 they thought that a large sum, and they could scarcely wonder at the alarm as it rose to eighty, ninety, and now over one hundred thousand pounds. He felt sure, however, that they had full value for money. Before adopting that scheme the Council had for years spent thousands unsuccessfully in trying to find supplemental supplies. The question of supply was now settled, and they could give time and attention to schemes of necessity and reform. He should not be doing his duty if he did not, in the name of the people of Rushden, thank Mr. Denton as chairman. Mr. Parker as vice-chairman, and the members of the Board, for devoting valuable time and effort to the arduous task.  He had himself only been a member of the Board for six months, but could testify to the splendid manner in which they had carried out their duties to the minutest detail.  The two towns would be delighted to have the abundant supply of water.  They had been very patient, and though the scheme would keep the rates high for a time, he hoped that in a few years they would have a large income rather than increased expenditure.  (Applause).

The County Council

  “The County Authority” was proposed by Mr. C. S. R. Palmer, who said they hoped to be early satisfied as to the supply, so that reasonable prices might be fixed for supplying necessitous parishes adjoining.

  Mr. R. G. Scriven (chairman of the Public Health Committee of the County Council) replied.

The Visitors

  This toast was submitted by Mr. J. Claridge, who said he hoped they would have a sufficiency of water to supply other parishes.  If those parishes were looking out for a water supply they could not do better than take advantage of the source opened that day.

  The toast was acknowledged by Mr. Allebone (chairman of the Earls Barton Parish Council) and Mr. E. Parsons (chairman of the Irchester Parish Council).  The latter said that Irchester would have to get water from somewhere, and where they could get the best water there they would go.  When they found that Rushden did not suffer from the new supply, they would try to make a bargain. (Laughter).

The Clerk

  The Chairman proposed “The Clerk of the Water Board" and Mr. G.S. Mason humorously replied.

The Chairman

  Mr. J. Claridge proposed “The Chairman,” and Mr. Denton replied.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Points of Interest - Regarding The New Water Supply

  It takes nearly 3½ hours for the water to travel from Sywell to Rushden.

  Water fowl have made their appearance on the lake. 

  It is 3½ miles round the edge of the water.

  The actual cost of construction has been about £70,000. 

  The water mains pass through Earls Barton, Doddington, and Wymington. 

  The water is remarkably pure, and is not likely to leave a coating inside the tea-kettle.

  The land draining into the reservoir is 1,740 acres.

  The Scheme allows for a supply of about 660,000 gallons of water per day.

  The dam is absolutely water-tight, there being not the slightest leakage.

  The dam is about 1000 feet long.

  The water area is about 70 acres.

  When the water is up to the top there will be about five feet of bank above the water level.

  Several houses at Rushden were flooded on Monday night through the taps having been left on.

  Mr. Middleton conducted the company round the works on Monday and gave a lucid explanation.

  Ideal weather prevailed for Monday’s ceremony.

  Mr. James Sargent supplied brakes to convey some of the party from Rushden to Sywell.

  At the luncheon the visitors “sampled” the water from the new supply.

  On returning to Rushden Mr. Denton turned the valve at the Vestry hall.

The crowd watching as Mr Denton turned the valve

  Mr. S. Powell, of Rushden, took photographs during the opening ceremony.

  Mr. W. Desborough, of Rushden, has issued a series of 13 photograph postcards taken on Monday.

Transcribed by Gill Hollis

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