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Newsletter, January 2012 (Issue 186)

I'll Drink to That!

I'll Drink to That! (Reservoirs Part 2)

In the late 1960s it was becoming obvious that the bore holes supplying water to Ipswich and surrounding communities were going to be insufficient for the growing population. The difficulty facing the Water Board was from where to source more water?

Twenty sites for a new reservoir were investigated, with the valley between Tattingstone and Holbrook being selected for a number of reasons. It was of sufficient size and had few properties to demolish (amongst them Alton Hall and Stutton Mill, the latter being dismantled and moved to the Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket). The major advantage of Alton is that it sits on a bed of clay which offered reduced water loss through the bed of the reservoir and a suitable source of material for the dam. Throughout the 1970s the valley was excavated (deepened) and the arisings deposited on the new embankment above Holbrook. This dam incorporates a bentonite core to ensure it doesn't leak.

The stream that runs down from Copdock into the Stour at Holbrook Creek carries insufficient water to either fill the reservoir or supply the good folk of Ipswich. The majority of the water in Alton Water is pumped out of the Gipping at Sproughton, over the hill close to Tesco and into the reservoir at Tattingstone.

Alton Water with a surface area of some 400 acres came on-stream in 1987 after taking 13 years to fill. Just below the dam is the treatment works capable of treating 10 million gallons a day. The potable water is then pumped over the Orwell Bridge to the service reservoirs on Rushmere Heath and hence to the taps of Ipswich and Felixstowe. These works also supply water to the Shotley peninsula and most of the villages in South Suffolk.

Meanwhile in Elsmere Road work continues on the refurbishment of the Park Road reservoir. I am indebted to Roy Bush who has been researching the original contract documents to discover how the tank was constructed. The six inch thick concrete roof is supported on cast iron columns but is not reinforced! This has led the current contractor to remove the overburden by suction rather than mechanical excavation. The reservoir was built for Ipswich Corporation Waterworks by main contractor, George Bell of Tottenham Hale, for a cost of £19,807 and it opened in 1903.

John Norman

    Front cover of issue 186 Cover, issue 186

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