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Planning & Surveys

Dalehead view - Grange Hall top left

Dalehead view - Grange Hall top left

Photograph used by kind permission of Mr. A. Wood

 

The Fylde Water Board (FWB) was constituted by Act of Parliament in 1897 to replace the Fylde Water Company which had begun delivering water supplies to the Fylde in 1864.

By 1910 it was realised that the growth in population of the Lancashire coastal towns such as Blackpool, Fleetwood and Lytham St. Annes meant that existing Fylde Water Board water catchment  grounds and storage reservoirs were totally inadequate to meet rising demands.

At that time the capacity of the FWB's storage reservoirs was only 259 million gallons, although another reservoir of 293 million gallons capacity was in the course of construction. The estimated average daily yield of the then existing water catchment grounds for three dry years was 4,500,000 gallons, and the average daily consumption 4,383,000 gallons.

Visits to the Forest of Bowland and Dalehead were therefore made by members of the FWB to assess whether the area might be suitable for water collection, and surveyors and engineers were then instructed to take surveys, levels and borings in 4 areas of the upper Hodder valley. These were Croasdale, Stocks, Greet, and Hesbert.  Surveyors, geologists and engineers spent two months staying at the "Travellers Rest" temperance hotel at Stocks-in-Bowland whilst they carried out their work.

"When the Water  Board men first came in about 1910 they asked my grandfather to show them the way to Bolland Knotts…I assume that they wanted a view of the whole area. They went in a car, which in those days were not particularly reliable. They got half-way up the hill to Dale House, which is very steep. The car stalled and ran back down the hill into the dyke at the side of the bridge; fortunately there was no one hurt." (A. Walmsley)

"They had one man and a lad working for them at the time.  They went round and took sods out all the way round in a line to where the water was to come to, but there was no actual work done until the First War was over." (L. Blackwell)

Dale Head prior to the commencement of the dam-building at Stocks

Dale Head prior to the commencement of the dam-building at Stocks

Photograph from the late John Heap collection, used by kind permission of Mr. A. Walmsley

 

The hot dry summer of 1911 forced the FWB to decide to lobby Parliament for a Parliamentary Bill for the acquisition of a new water gathering  ground. This Bill passed through Parliament, and on the 7th August, 1912, Royal Assent was given to it as the "Fylde Water Board Act, 1912". It authorised the Board to take, collect and impound the head waters of the River Hodder and provided for the construction of three impounding reservoirs, namely Stocks, Greet and Hesbert, two service reservoirs (Westby and Warbreck), an aqueduct  of two lines of pipes between the impounding and the service reservoirs, road diversions, and the exhumation of bodies from the graveyard of the parish church of Dalehead.

The "Cross of Greet" Road - Proposed site of the "Greet Reservoir"

The "Cross of Greet" road & headwaters of the River Hodder - Proposed site of the "Greet Reservoir"

Photograph used by kind permission of Lancashire Library Service - Clitheroe

 

Following the passing of the Act in August 1912 some 90 members of the FWB arrived in Slaidburn in a cavalcade of cars and charabancs which disembarked their passengers for a visit on foot to the site of the proposed new dam at Stocks.

The proposed site of the Stocks Reservoir Dam c. 1912 

The proposed site of the Stocks Reservoir Dam c. 1912

 

The Board began to negotiate the compulsory purchase by private treaty of the necessary land with the landowners affected. Some of the larger landowners engaged solicitors and held out for better prices. Smallholders tended to have to accept what they were offered. The ordinary tenant farmers knew nothing of the plans as all negotiations were directly with the landowners. Surveys and test borings continued but the intervention of the First World war prevented any start on the construction of the reservoirs. Land continued to be purchased and by early 1916 the Fylde Water Board owned 31 farms in the upper Hodder valley. The Board eventually purchased approximately 9,750 acres of land at a cost of £150,000 of which 9,259 acres became the water gathering grounds for Stocks Reservoir.

River Hodder, Dalehead, after heavy rain

River Hodder, Dalehead, after heavy rain

Photograph used by kind permission of Lancashire Library Service - Clitheroe

 

The interruption of the 1914-18 War meant that a second Act of Parliament: the "Fylde Water Board Act, 1919" was required to extend the period for completion of works authorised in the 1912 Act to 1939 and to allow the Board to obtain additional financial powers and increased borrowings for the carrying out of the massive constructional programme.  According to one source, it was at this time that the ordinary residents of Dalehead found out that they were to be evicted from their homes and their valley flooded. This supposedly came about after the then Rector of Slaidburn happened by chance to read a Parliamentary report in "The Times" newspaper about  the "Fylde Water Board Act, 1919". 

Life for the residents of Dalehead would never be the same again... 

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