Controversial work on historic reservoir spillway to get underway next month

The Butterley Spillway at Marsden Reservoir .Picture by Simon Hulme
The Butterley Spillway at Marsden Reservoir .Picture by Simon Hulme
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Campaigners fought a long battle to preserve a stepped structure at a Yorkshire reservoir but today it was announced work will begin next month on a project to replace it.

The Butterley reservoir spillway, a stepped overflow feature at Marsden, near Huddersfield, was placed on the Victorian Society’s list of “endangered” structures in 2013 over plans to upgrade it - using concrete - to cope with future floods.

An unsuccessful legal challenge to the proposal was launched in the High Court by campaigner Colin Anderson.

Yorkshire Water said it will start work on a £5m project to replace the spillway early next month.

The stone spillway, designed by Thomas Hawksley, is an incredible feat of engineering and was completed in 1906. It controls the flow of water from Butterley reservoir, safely ensuring it does not overtop and damage or erode the embankment.

Yorkshire water said works needed to be carried out for safety reasons but campaigners argued it should be preserved.

The company said a previous inspection of the spillway by an independent engineer highlighted the need to adapt the spillway to ensure it continues to meet legal standards.

Lee Laherty, Yorkshire Water project manager said: “We know that the spillway is a much-loved local landmark and we’ve worked hard to design a solution that’s sympathetic to the local surroundings, whilst ensuring it meets legal requirements.”

“We are going to replicate the existing small steps within the spillway, retain two thirds of the existing spillway walls and re-use coping stones where possible. We’ll clad the raised walls with natural sandstone and hope to retain the majority of existing keystones.”

The major project will take until the end of 2017 to complete. Some local footpaths around the reservoir will be temporarily diverted so the work can be carried out safely.