THE EARLY HISTORY OF DEBDALE RESERVOIR
(upper and lower) 1823 to 1900.


In 1823 an act for the construction of. large reservoirs in Gorton, was passed in parliament.

The construction was to be carried out on ground high enough to supply the Manchester area by gravitation, although it was first contemplated to carry the water to the existing reservoirs iri Beswick.

The reservoirs at Corton were to be placed on a stream of water which derived it's supplies from about 1,500 acres of surface drainage. With the act of 1823, which authorised their construction, the company (waterworks) were empowered to take flood water only. It required large reservoirs to contain all the water which flowed from the ground in floods, and for that purpose, the reservoirs, two in number, appear to have been laid out.

They covered, with embankments about sixty one and a half acres of ground, with a water surface of fifty six and a half acres. They contained about 35,000,000 cubic feet of water, about 31,000,000 which was available for the supply to the town.

Several small villages and many detached farms were scattered over the district, so that it presented no site problems for the collection of water, it was the nearest.high land suitable for the purpose which could be found.

The works at Gorton were completed about 1825 or 1826, the water was conveyed to Beswick a distance of three miles by a cast iron pipe 18 inches in diameter.

The reservoirs and the work for conveying the water to Beswick, were constructed by Mr. Nicholas Brown of Wakefield, an engineer who had considerable experience in the formation of canals and reservoirs and of supplying them with water. The reservoirs appeared to have been well constructed, but the detail that was essentially for the waterworks was badly designed, and had to be altered and improved after a number of years by Mr. Simpson c.e. of London, who later became engineer for the waterworks company.

In May 1826, 943,250 gallons of water per day was supplied to the town. With the increase in the population over the years, large supply pipes, 24 inches. in diameter, were laid through Hyde Road direct to Manchester.

Gorton reservoir was discontinued to be used as a water supply to the Manchester area in 1963.

THE LAST RESERVOIR KEEPER
MR. PERCY SITFORD (1890 - 1960)

The reservoir keepers job mainly consisted of supervision of the workforce on the reservoir, and keeping records of the levels of water, which were later sent to Manchester Town Hall for filing

Cleaning up of the waters and the cutting of hedges and mainten- ance of land around the reservoirs were also important duties in the daily life of the workers.

As, like his workforce, Mr. Sitford was required to live near the waters, the keepers house was situated in what we now know as Debdale picnic area. The house, owned by the waterboard, was large and was surrounded by an orchard and hen pens.

Oil lamps were the only form of lighting and water had to be pumped by hand up to the house.

The keeper left the house at Christmas in the year of 1938, it was knocked down in 1939.

Opposite the house were the workshops for the men, where the work of repairing the damaged valves was undertaken.

Mr. Sitford retired in 1955 and with him went the last job of keeper of the Reservoir.


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