Reservoir Jogs

Yesterday, we stumbled on the answer to a question that we’ve often wondered about and yet never took the time to research: where does canal water come from?

Miss P wanted to visit a friend in Furness Vale. He is recovering from glandular fever and hadn’t been at college for some time. As it was such a lovely day, I tagged along as Mrs P drove and after dropping daughter off, we drove on to Whaley Bridge to walk the dog around Toddbrook Reservoir.

Which is where the question was answered. The reservoir was built in 1831, not to provide safe drinking water, but the common or garden variety to feed the Peak Forest Canal.

As aforementioned, it was a beautiful day: blue skies, warm sun and it felt like spring at last. And Toddbrook is a very pleasant place for a stroll. What the map above doesn’t show is that on the northern shore there is a strip of land you reach by bridge and a path with the reservoir on one side and a man-made water course on the other.

Follow the path to where the reservoir tapers to an end and you come to where a stream, presumably ‘Todd Brook’, has been dammed, the water diverted into the water course that takes it away to the canal. This flow can be shut off so that the water goes over the dam to feed the reservoir.

All in all, a very pleasant place to spend a couple of hours and to be repeated. And next time, I’ll remember to take the camera!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

7 comments… Add yours
  • Jennyta 15th April 2006

    That’s interesting. I have to confess that I have never even thought about where the water for a canal comes from. You learn something every day!

  • Shooting Parrots 16th April 2006

    It’s probably that we have grown up with canals nearby and still regularly use them for walking (they’re flat!) that has begged the question.

  • Blognor Regis 17th April 2006

    I knew they were supplied by reservoirs but that’s only because I’ve been to Marsworth in Buckinghamshire. There the Grand Union canal goes over a summit so that’s, I guess, the necessary point to inject fresh water into the system.

    That said, we used to go for walks along the canal at Rickmansworth and I never gave the issue a moment’s thought.

    I’ve found some pictures of Marsworth’s system here. No idea how the water gets into the reservoirs in the first place though. Most would have tributaries and therefore a large catchment area. This is ontop of a hill though! They must have pumped it up. Or took it up by barge!

  • Mosher 18th April 2006

    OK, so now we know where the water comes from. Now… where does all the filth come from that infests them by the time they become canals?

    I jumped into the “moat” in Chiang Mai while slightly inebriated and my feet were getting stuck in the gunk at the bottom. Almost lost me flip flops!

  • Laura 18th April 2006

    I absolutely, positively love canals. Now if we could only win that infamous Lotto and get a boat…aw, lazy days.

  • Shooting Parrots 18th April 2006

    Mark: The Toddbrook is much higher than the canal and is fed by quite a small stream, but obviously works well. Why the pre-Victorians could manage water supply then and we can’t today is anyone’s guess.

    Mosh: Know what you mean. I once tried getting to the island in the middle of the local boating lake and ended in upwards of two feet of gunk.

    Alice: That would be the life! I knew a bloke once who lived on a barge and it was brilliant. Whenever he fancied a change of scene, he just switched moorings.

  • Blognor Regis 18th April 2006

    Living on a boat can get a bit nippy in the winter though.

    Clarkson on 19th century gumption:
    And when, in the 19th century, the Great Western Railway was converted from a seven-foot gauge to 4ft 10in, do you want to hazard a guess how long it took?

    I’m talking about lifting up a length of rail all the way from Bristol to London, moving it exactly 2ft 2in and then attaching it to the sleepers again, without the benefit of any cranes or mechanical devices? Well I’ll tell you.

    They did it in one night. Mind you, they weren’t stuck with a herd of Health and Safety officials, which is the problem today. No one you see working on the M25 these days is actually working.

    And then there was the contrast between the building of the Great Exhibition in 1851 and the Millenium Dome!


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