AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ALWOODLEY
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Obviously school numbers had been boosted by ‘navvies’ children but why had these workers returned? In November 1852 Leeds Water Works became a council owned company with private investors receiving the princely sum of £227,417.94 Following the take over, a new 40” diameter cast iron main was laid to replace the open conduit from Blackmoor Tunnel to Weetwood and in 1866 the Seven Arches Aqueduct became redundant due to its limited capacity. A constantly rising population, higher standards of personal hygiene, the introduction of flush toilets and the increased demands of industry placed a huge strain on supplies. The Leeds Water Works Act of 1867 gave the authority permission to exploit supplies in the Washburn Valley and expand facilities at Eccup, which was to act as a storage reservoir, however, there was a limit to the amount of money that could be borrowed.95 The planned expansion of the reservoir had to wait for additional finance which was authorised by the Leeds Improvement Act of 1877. Construction of Eccup Reservoir as we know it today began almost immediately but on completion on 15 March 1885 it quickly became apparent that there was substantial leakage.96 The bank had been settled badly and so the navvies had to return once more. Over the next twelve months workmen placed ten feet of clay in the puddle wall, however, the Council eventually decided to totally reconstruct the embankment. This was a painfully slow process and had to be done in sections with brickwork pillars strengthening the structure. The average depth of the excavation below the embankment road reached as much as 180 feet! 97
But where did the navvies live and where had they come from? The 1891 Census gives a fascinating insight into these questions.98 It records that Alwoodley Old Hall had been subdivided and was being used as a lodging house for some of the workers:
4. Old Hall
|Alfred Dickenson||Head||32||General Labourer||Yorkshire Leeds|
|Sarah Dickenson||Wife||30||Norfolk Briston|
|Henry Darby||Visitor||23||Stationary Engine Driver||Norfolk Briston|
|George Poynton||Visitor||50||General Labourer||Yorkshire Benton|
|Robert Dodgson||Visitor||45||Stationary Engine Driver||Arthington|
|John Reed||Visitor||47||General Labourer||Filey|
|William Payne||Boarder||21||General Labourer||Middlesex New Barnet|
|Harry Lightfoot||Boarder||29||General Labourer||Yorkshire Leeds|
|Robert Jarvis||Boarder||30||General Labourer||Hull|
|Robert Archer||Boarder||50||General Labourer||Norfolk Litcham|
|George Morris||Boarder||57||General Labourer||Salop Pontesbury|
5. Old Hall
|John Smith||Head||36||Excavating Miner||Lancashire Liverpool|
|Sarah Smith||Wife||38||Lancashire Liverpool|
|John H. Barnett||Boarder||24||Excavating Miner||Lancashire Manchester|
|Henry Meggs||Boarder||49||Excavating Miner||Cheshire Birkenhead|
|Thomas R. Reed||Boarder||46||Excavating Miner||Lincolnshire Lincoln|
|William Holmes||Boarder||38||Excavating Miner||Lincolnshire Lincoln|
|Robert Holmes||Boarder||56||Stationary Engine Driver||Yorkshire Halifax|
|Phil Foster||Boarder||53||Stationary Engine Driver||Nottingham Notts|
|Joseph Moore||Boarder||23||Excavating Miner||Essex Graze|
|Andrew Male||Visitor||8||Cheshire Birkenhead|
Twenty-one people from all over the country were crammed into the Old Hall. It must have been a nightmare when they all returned home filthy after a day’s work!
The reservoir was finally completed in1897 to the design of Edward Filliter but the skilful engineer responsible for the critical reconstruction work was Thomas Hewson.99 By the end of the nineteenth century Leeds was supplied with 16 million gallons of water a day of which two thirds was for household consumption. Thanks to Victorian engineering most of this water flowed unaided through the pipes beneath the surface of Alwoodley to the ever-thirsty city beyond.
94. Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.21; A.Beal, The Leaning Towers of Adel: Stabilising the Seven Arches Aqueduct, Structural Engineer 2001.
95. Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) pp.26-28.
96. Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.29.
97. Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.29.
98. 1891 Census 3525 En.11.
99. Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.29.