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.