WATER SUCCESS….BATEMAN’S DAMN FINE ACHIEVEMENT
Bottoms Reservoir, one of the Longdendale Reservoirs extending for 10 km (6 miles) eastwards, is the closest to Hadfield and Padfield.
When this immense 29-year civil engineering project was completed in 1877 the reservoirs formed the largest body of man-made water in the world, and were Europe’s first major conservation scheme.
The reservoirs were designed by engineering genius John Frederick Bateman (1810-89) described on his commemorative Blue Plaque as a ‘water engineer extraordinaire’. Whilst working as surveyor on Hurst Reservoir in Glossop in 1838, Bateman saw the potential of the Longdendale Valley as a water catchment area.
To provide drinking water for its rapidly increasing population, Manchester Corporation commissioned Bottoms Reservoir in the mid-19th century. Four Acts of Parliament were needed for the entire scheme.
The reservoir - named after Bottoms Mill itself named due to its valley bottom location - was the final reservoir to be constructed. Work stated in 1867 and finished 10 years later. It is 50 acres in size, has a capacity of 407 million gallons, and 48 feet deep at its deepest. Permit fishing is permitted, and anglers pit their wits against pike, perch, and trout. Before the reservoirs were built, salmon were seen in the fast-flowing Etherow. A water skiing slope was a popular attraction for many years.
Along with Valehouse Reservoir, Bottoms is a ‘compensation reservoir’ for the Etherow which emerges ahead of you. The valve house, waste weirs, discharge tunnel, gauging basin were constructed so that the Victorian millowners downstream, who strongly opposed Bateman’s plans to flood the valley - although they later received compensation - received every drop of water due to them. The depth gauge meant that they had a constant water supply.
A steam locomotive railway which served the quarries was replaced by hydro-electric traction in 1904 and by Hornby diesel in 1950 before the line was abandoned in 1968. The Power House supplied hydro-electric power for the above.
The side of the valve house incorporates a Manchester Corporation Water Works plaque marking the completion of this truly wondrous feat of Victorian engineering in 1877.
Note: The Longdendale reservoirs and their catchment area are today managed by United Utilities for the public supply of water to North West England.