Row over plans to ‘demolish’ historic spillway

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CAMPAIGNERS are ready for a battle to preserve a Yorkshire reservoir’s historic stone-built overflow structure.

Yorkshire Water has just submitted plans to upgrade the Butterley Reservoir spillway at Marsden, near Huddersfield, which was built between 1891 and 1906.

Locals have responded by stepping up their campaign to have the plans rejected.

The Save Butterley Spillway group yesterday said the plans would mean the “effective demolition” of the Grade II listed structure.

They fear the use of concrete is not suitable for such an impressive structure.

Documents filed with Kirklees Council state that the work would involve:

Replacing the existing walls in reinforced concrete to around 2.6m high.

Overlaying the base of the spillway with a reinforced concrete slab.

Reconstruction the stepped cascade to form a constant gradient.

Cladding the outside of walls with masonry from the existing walls.

Use of stone copings on top of raised walls.

Using a masonry effect formliner finish on the inside face of the walls.

Yorkshire Water says the work has to be done to ensure the overflow structure can cope in an extreme flood.

Diane Ellis, of the Save Butterley Spillway group, agrees that safety is of utmost importance but said: “The structure is unique and should not be demolished without demonstrating beyond doubt that there is no viable alternative solution that would allow the preservation of the Victorian structure. At present Yorkshire Water have not satisfactorily demonstrated this.

“We believe the spillway is the tallest and widest Victorian spillway channel in the country and the entire reservoir infrastructure is preserved in an excellent, original condition. “It was designed by Thomas Hawksley who was a prolific and leading civil engineer of the Victoria era. The design and skill that went into its construction is an obvious demonstration of civic pride - a pride that continues today.

“Butterley reservoir is set within stunning moorland landscape on the fringe of the village. It is an important element in the story of the development of Marsden, as well as the Industrial Revolution in Huddersfield and is an important contributor to our tourism offer.

“Yorkshire Water’s plans are simply the easiest and cheapest solution of all the options available to meeting the requirements of reservoir legislation and they are not giving enough consideration to the heritage value of the asset.”

Campaigners will present their case to a meeting of full council tomorrow from 4.45pm and have been backed by Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney who last week raised the spillway plans in the House of Commons.

Tim Dyke, of Yorkshire Water, said: “We’ve tried hard to mitigate the visual impact of these essential changes to what we know is a well-loved structure, but we also accept that some people will think that any changes to it are unacceptable.

“The changes we’ve incorporated include reusing the existing masonry to clad the outside faces of the higher walls, replicating the current stepped form as much as possible, taking a mould of the existing stone so we can get as close as possible to recreating the appearance of the inside faces of the walls, and staining the concrete with a permanent colour to blend in with adjacent stonework.

“These amount to an additional £1.2m-worth of investment in keeping the structure as close to the original as we’re able to, while meeting the essential safety standards required of it.”