Plan for weir to be resited will save Environment Agency £2m

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A WEIR which played a prominent role in Todmorden’s industrial history is set to be resited and made into a heritage feature for future generations.

As part of its work on phase three of the Todmorden flood alleviation scheme, the Environment Agency (EA) identified the need to remove the approximately 200-year-old weir located near to Back Waterloo cottages, on Rochdale Road.

If it was left in place, additional work costing in the region of £2m would have to be carried out upstream as the flood water levels would be higher with the weir in place.

After discussions with groups such as Todmorden Civic Society and Calderdale Council’s conservation team, the EA has produced a plan to resite the mechanical structure and supporting stones close to its original location to preserve its historic context.

Will Benedikz, EA project engineer, said the weir’s mechanical structure is of local historic significance and is an interesting feature in Walsden Water.

“We were asked if we could make a heritage weir using some of the existing stone and put it in an appropriate location as a monument to the industrial past,” he said.

“We feel it’s important to have it as close to the original as possible, so there’s a sense of it belonging.”

The weir was once used to power the former Fielden’s Waterside Mill by regulating the flow from Walsden Water through mechanical sluice gate structures via a mill race.

The mill race fed a water wheel on the site of what is now Morrisons supermarket.

A new location for the weir structure has yet to be confirmed.

The consultation period closes next week and the current preferred site is green space on Oak Street, opposite the weir’s existing position.

“It would be an easily visible feature of interest to visitors entering Todmorden,” Mr Benedikz said. He thanked contractors Volker Stevin for paying for the weir project.

The civic society will provide an information board at the new site to explain the history of the weir.

Chairman Paul Clarke said: “The board will include the fundamentals of how Walsden Water was used as a source of energy for cotton mills along the valley.

“We are happy with the support from the Environment Agency for this project and are delighted that a piece of industrial heritage is being saved for future generations.”

It is hoped the weir will be in its new location by the summer.

Coun Ian Cooper, (Con, Todmorden), said: “I think it is a tremendous opportunity to expose some of our heritage in such a way that the people of Todmorden and visitors have the opportunity to look at wonders of our heritage from times past.

“It is correct that no firm location has been decided yet though it was discussed by the Town Centre Renaissance Ward meeting on Wednesday night.

“Everyone I have spoken to is quite pleased and enthusiastic about this and there is even talk of adding a water wheel too which I think would be great - it is not beyond the realms of possibility.”

His colleague, Coun Ruth Goldthorpe, (Lib Dem, Todmorden) added:

“It is part of Todmorden’s heritage and at present it is not really visible from the road, hidden away at the back of some houses.

“So if it saves £2m and can be restored to a more visible site then that would be good.

“I understand it is being moved to Oak Street opposite where it is now. Various bodies have been consulted including the Civic Trust and they are happy about it.

“The Environment Agency are working now on Rochdale Road and I don’t think it will be long before work starts on moving the weir.

“As for suggestions about including a water wheel I think that is a very interesting idea.

“If there was one before it would be good to have one in place again at a new location.