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Winscar Reservoir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Winscar Reservoir
Image of an upland lake surrounded by moorland
Winscar Reservoir
Position of lake in South Yorkshire
Position of lake in South Yorkshire
Winscar Reservoir
Location within South Yorkshire
LocationDunford Bridge, South Yorkshire, England
Coordinates53°31′15″N 1°46′27″W / 53.5208°N 1.7741°W / 53.5208; -1.7741
EtymologyWinscar Hales
River sourcesRiver Don
Catchment area2,040 acres (825 ha)
Managing agencyYorkshire Water
First flooded1975–1982
Surface area130 acres (51 ha)
Average depth58 feet (17.8 m)
Max. depth137 feet (41.8 m)
Water volume323,807,000 cubic feet (9,169,194 m3)
Shore length13.1 miles (5 km)
Surface elevation1,135 feet (346 m)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Winscar Reservoir (also known as Winscar dam), is a compensation reservoir on the headwaters of the River Don in South Yorkshire, England. The reservoir is located at Dunford Bridge, 25 miles (40 km) north west of Sheffield,[3] and is just inside the Peak District National Park on the Pennine watershed. The reservoir was built on an existing dam and has suffered with leaking which necessitated a new membrane being installed at the dam head in the years 2000 and 2001.

It was the first major dam to be built in England with an asphaltic concrete membrane on the upstream dam wall and was the last dam to be built that was fed from the River Don.


Dunford Bridge Dam was built in the 1850s[4] and was used to supply water not only for the River Don, but also to towns in the Spen Valley.[5] The height of Dunford Bridge dam was 1,100 feet (340 m), some 35 feet (11 m) lower than the present Winscar Reservoir. An iron and brick conduit, used to convey the water the 18 miles (29 km) to a processing works at Heckmondwike.[6] The dam was completed in the summer of 1857 when it was registered as having a dam wall 90 feet (27 m) deep and 350 feet (110 m) wide.[7]

Winscar Reservoir was built in place of Dunford Bridge Dam,[8] and all of it was subsumed into the enlarged reservoir in the valley. Mapping printed from before the construction of Winscar shows Dunford Bridge Dam to have a dam wall facing due east, mapping from post 1975 shows Winscar Reservoirs' dam wall to be facing south east, having been moved eastwards and a greater portion of land around Harden Dike stream to have been flooded.[9][10] Plans for a larger reservoir at Dunford Bridge were submitted in the early 1970s[11] as it was deemed necessary to store more water in fear of shortages in places such as Halifax and Brighouse.[12] At the time of authorisation, the water company involved was the Mid Calder Water Board, who would go on with several others to be the constituent companies in the formation of Yorkshire Water.[13]

The name Winscar, applies to the high ground on the east bank of Harden Dike as it flows out of Harden Reservoir. Winscar was also the site of former quarry workings and the Scar suffix is typical of describing rough layers of rock projecting through the surface.[14][15] Winscar is fed by Dearden Clough from the south west, the nascent River Don from the east and from Harden Reservoir via Harden Dike to the north.[16]

Winscar is one of 25 reservoirs along the course of the River Don and was the last to be built, being completed in 1975.[17] As Yorkshire Water was founded from the constituent companies in 1974, it also remains the only reservoir on the Don to have been built under the tenure of Yorkshire Water. The reservoir was also the first major dam in England to be built with a membrane on the dam wall constructed from asphaltic concrete.[18] When construction was completed in 1975, impounding of water began, but it took until 1982 for the water to completely fill the reservoir. Likewise, when the water has been drained from the reservoir, the water takes on average two years to fully restock to previous water levels.[19] This is down to the catchment being low on supply rather than the size of the reservoir itself.[20] A wide pool (known as jump pool or a stilling pool) was built at the bottom of the culvert downstream of the dam head. This dissolves the kinetic energy from the water travelling through the downhill culvert.[21]

The Upper Don river was subject to severe siltation when the construction of Winscar was underway. This had an adverse effect on the spawning fish grounds in the upper catchment, which necessitated the release of water in flushes to disperse the silted riverbed.[8] The height of the dam head is 174 feet (53 m) and the dam head extends for a width of 1,710 feet (520 m).[22] The centre of the dam head is compacted rock and layered over with asphaltic concrete that covers over 270,000 square feet (25,000 m2).[23] The use of rock allowed for very steep walls on both sides of the dam head, which in turn meant that the water level could be significantly higher and the new dam head could be built between the old dam and the village of Dunford Bridge.[21]

The stilling pool at the bottom of the reservoir
The stilling pool at the bottom of the reservoir

In 2001, the water seeping from the reservoir through a crack, had drained so much water from Winscar, that the entire reservoir was drained to enable engineers to find the source of the leak. Many smaller leaks had developed between 1975 and 2001, some relatively small, and initially, many of theses were due to the settlement of rocks being at a different rate of stabilisation to the culverts and other grouted areas.[24] In doing so, the old Dunford Bridge Dam, was partially recommissioned as it lay upstream from the Winscar Reservoir head, and this allowed the water to settle before being released through Winscar whilst remedial work was taking place.[25] The leak was located 65 feet (20 m) below the normal water level,[26] and was responsible for the loss of between 140,000 cubic feet (4,000 m3) and 210,000 cubic feet (6,000 m3) of water per day.[27][28]

A PVC geomembrane was suggested to cover the embankment and cover over the holes and cracks. As PVC had not been used in this type of application before, there was some concern about chemicals leaching out of the PVC and into the water supply.[29] The work was complete by March 2002 and the reservoir was allowed to restock back to normal levels.[30]

Immediately downstream of the reservoir is Dunford Bridge gauging station, which is part of the maintained flow from the reservoir to keep water in the River Don. Yorkshire Water are expected to allow over 2,000,000 imperial gallons (9,100,000 l; 2,400,000 US gal) of water to pass through the gauging station per day, with limitations down by 50% in times of drought.[31] Winscar Reservoir is also permitted to compensate the River Calder when necessary.[32] Whilst the chemical composition of the water is good, the ecological and overall condition of the water is classified as bad by the Environment Agency.[33]

Recreation and other uses

Pennine Sailing Club use the reservoir recreationally.[34] The club have achieved Royal Yachting Association status.[35] The dam head is furnished with a road that can be used for walking and is also on National Cycle Route 68, with National Cycle Route 62 and the Trans Pennine Trail just to the south. The dam head is also on the route of the Yorkshire Water Way.[36] The Peak District Boundary Walk runs along the east side of the reservoir.[37]

Emergency services also use Winscar Reservoir to practise for water rescues and possible major events with mass casualties.[38][39]


  1. ^ "Winscar Reservoir Water Body ID 31876". Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  2. ^ Blake, L S (1989). Civil engineer's reference book (4 ed.). London: Butterworths. p. 18-5. ISBN 0-408-01208-0.
  3. ^ Charles, Tedd, Warren 2011, p. 61.
  4. ^ "Walking: Walk at Snail's pace". Sheffield Telegraph. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  5. ^ Peel 1893, pp. 354–356.
  6. ^ Peel 1893, p. 356.
  7. ^ "Dewsbury Water Works – the testing of the water works at Dunford Bridge". Huddersfield Chronicle and West Yorkshire Advertiser (368). Column E. 11 April 1857. p. 5. OCLC 688641757.
  8. ^ a b 900 RDF 1997, p. 49.
  9. ^ "View: SE10 (includes: Holmfirth) – Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps of Great Britain, 1937–1961". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  10. ^ "OL1" (Map). The Peak District – Dark Peak Area. 1:25,000. Explorer. Ordnance Survey. 2015. ISBN 9780319263655.
  11. ^ "Winscar Reservoir and Dam, West Yorkshire - Reservoirs and Dams - British Construction Projects - Consultancy Work - Papers of Professor Peter Walter Rowe – Archives Hub". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  12. ^ "CALDERDALE WATER BILL (By Order) (Hansard, 29 January 1970)". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  13. ^ Newsome, C D (1991). "15: Network management - the Calder experience". In Roberts, K F (ed.). Advanced technology in water management : proceedings of the conference organized by the Institution of Civil Engineers and held in London on 27–28 November 1990. London: T. Telford. p. 177. ISBN 0-7277-1638-7.
  14. ^ Smith, A H (1961). The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, part 1: Lower and Upper Strafforth and Staincross Wapentakes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 343. OCLC 655052332.
  15. ^ Place-names of south-west Yorkshire, that is, of so much of the West Riding as lies south of the Aire from Keighley onwards at the Internet Archive
  16. ^ "Grains Moss" (PDF). Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  17. ^ 900 RDF 1997, p. 13.
  18. ^ Penman, A D M; Charles, J A. "Behaviour of rockfill dam with asphaltic membrane" (PDF). p. 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  19. ^ Carter, Claydon, Hill 2002, p. 418.
  20. ^ Penman, A D M; Charles, J A. "Behaviour of rockfill dam with asphaltic membrane" (PDF). p. 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  21. ^ a b Rennison, R W (1996). Civil engineering heritage. Northern England (2 ed.). London: Institution of Civil Engineers. p. 202. ISBN 0-7277-2518-1.
  22. ^ Claydon 2002, p. 169.
  23. ^ "Winscar — Hydropol". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  24. ^ Charles, Tedd, Warren 2011, p. 62.
  25. ^ Claydon 2002, pp. 169–170.
  26. ^ Taylor, Alaistair (10 May 2001). "Where's the plug?". Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  27. ^ Claydon 2002, p. 170.
  28. ^ Scuero, A M; Vaschetti, G L (2011). "Development of geomembrane systems for watertightness of dams in Europe". In Schleiss, Anton J; Boes, Robert M (eds.). Dams and reservoirs under changing challenges. London: CRC Press/Balkema. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-415-68267-1.
  29. ^ Carter, Claydon, Hill 2002, p. 419.
  30. ^ "Repairs complete at Winscar reservoir – International Water Power". Water Power Magazine. 7 March 2002. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Interim report on the environmental impact of the drought on Yorkshire's rivers April 1995 to April 1996" (PDF). Environment Agency. November 1996. p. 15. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  33. ^ "Winscar Reservoir overview". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  34. ^ Shaw, Martin (27 March 2019). "Top status awarded to sailing club". Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Where's My Nearest | RYA – Royal Yachting Association". Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  36. ^ "Yorkshire Water Way - LDWA Long Distance Paths". Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  37. ^ McCloy, Andrew (2017). Peak District Boundary Walk: 190 Miles Around the Edge of the National Park. Friends of the Peak District. ISBN 978-1909461536.
  38. ^ "Body find at moors reservoir". 24 June 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  39. ^ "Crash practice police find body". BBC News. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2019.


External links

This page was last edited on 7 September 2020, at 09:54
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