Goodbye Hurst Reservoir

After 175 years, Hurst Reservoir is being dismantled and the site will be restored to its 1820s shape. The dam will be dismantled next year and the reservoir has already been almost entirely drained. 

Hurst Reservoir is being decomissioned because it is no longer used for drinking water and maintainence of the dam cannot be justified. The stream has insufficient flow to generate hydro-electricty and United Utilities intend to restore it to its early 19th century condition.

Fifty local mill owners and gentlemen known as the Glossop Commissioners obtained an Act of Parliament to build the Hurst and Mossy Lea Reservoirs, but ran out of money before Mossy Lea was started. It passed to Glossop Corporation in 1929 and to Manchester Corporation in 1959. It is no longer used and United Utilities will restore the site to its original appearance, leaving a water body suitable for foraging bats and for fire fighting use. The reservoir is a focal point of the first view of Glossop from the Snake Pass, but will not be missed by fishermen because no fish have ever been able to live in it and it is considered the only dead reservoir in Glossop.

Tintwistle ideally suited to reservoirs 

John Frederic La Trobe Bateman was the son of an unsuccessful inventor and grew up around Fairfield. He started an apprenticeship in Oldham in 1825 and started a civil engineering business eight years later that he ran single handed for the next 50 years. He visited Glossop around 1837 when he worked as surveyor on the Hurst Reservoir dam. It is said that it was at this time that he noticed how Tintwistle was ideally suited to reservoirs and came back in 1848 to build what became the largest man-made water body on Earth; the Longdendale Chain. In 1869 he proposed a submarine railway between England and France in an iron tube, represented the Royal Society at the opening of the Suez Canal and designed, planned or directed work in Argentina, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Sri Lanka. In 1883 he assumed the name of his grandfather, La Trobe, and he died in 1889 at his estate in Surrey leaving seven children and his wife of 48 years, Anne, the only daughter of Sir William Fairbairn.

End of Hurst Dam Sledging

Despite obvious hazards, the Hurst Dam slope has always been very popular with Glossop sledgers. Last winter a local engineer broke bones and had to be rescued by Mountain Rescue testing a prototype sledge, and the winter before a visitor to the UK shattered her pelvis and had to spend many months in plaster before she could escape from Glossop. Over the last 175 winters we can only guess at the other injuries that must have been incurred by intrepid Glossopians braving the formidable slope. But this winter will be the last, and by 2014 the dam will have gone, replaced by a gentle incline that will be "useless for sledging" according to the site engineer. It will be missed. but the world will be a slightly safer place.

Engineer Ian Brotherton hopes that he will be the last victim of the Hurst sledging slope:

"I made a superfast sledge last year but it was a little too good. I was hurtling beyond any speed I'd been before. I tried to slow down and next thing I knew I was flying through the air and smashed my leg. The ambulance couldn't get me and neither could the helicopter. Mountain Rescue had to come with a sledge". Ian suffered complex leg fractures but is now happily over it and ready to have another go.

Legal Note: It is probably illegal to sledge on Hurst Dam for reasons of trespass, and it is definitely dangerous. Don't be naughty.