Butterley Reservoir, Wessenden. Looking down on Mount Road taken from above Old Mount Road. c1910

Butterley Reservoir, Wessenden
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The reservoirs near Marsden are part of a historic network of water reservoirs and canals known as the 'Colne Valley Reservoirs' which played a crucial role in providing water for industrial purposes during the 19th century and have since become important recreational and environmental assets in the region.

Butterley Reservoir

Butterley Reservoir, also known as Marsden Reservoir, is one of the key reservoirs in the area. It was constructed between 1891 and 1906 by the Huddersfield Corporation to provide a stable water supply for the growing town of Huddersfield. The dam was built by engineer Sir Henry Oakley, and the reservoir covers an area of approximately 16 acres.

A temporary tramway was built in 1894 from Tunnel End to carry raw materials to Butterley. It had three sidings, a viaduct over the River Colne and a level crossing over Manchester Road.

Butterley Reservoir tramway map

Butterley Reservoir tramway map
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Butterley locomotive

Butterley locomotive
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Butterley Reservoir tramway - bridge over the River Colne

Butterley Reservoir tramway
bridge over the River Colne
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Present-day remains of the tramway viaduct in Tunnel End woods.

Present-day remains of the tramway viaduct.
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Blakeley Reservoir

Blakeley Reservoir is another reservoir in the Colne Valley network. It was built to supplement the water supply from Butterley Reservoir. The construction of Blakeley Reservoir was completed in 1933.

Swellands Reservoir

Swellands Reservoir is a smaller reservoir located upstream from Butterley Reservoir. It was constructed in the late 19th century as part of the Colne Valley Waterworks Scheme to provide a reliable water source for Huddersfield.

In the early hours of 29 November 1810 the dam wall gave way, leading to the "Black Flood" inundating Marsden and killing five people. The victims were Esther Schofield, her daughter Mary, aged eight months, her brothers Joseph Haigh, 14, and James, 12, and her niece Betty Schofield, three, daughter of her sister Hannah and Joseph Schofield of Puleside. Esther's husband survived as he was working a night shift in the Standedge Tunnel, which was built to carry the Huddersfield Narrow Canal from Marsden to Diggle.

Digley Reservoir

While not immediately adjacent to Marsden, Digley Reservoir is part of the broader network of reservoirs in the area. It was constructed between 1959 and 1965 to further enhance water storage and supply capabilities in the region. The construction of these reservoirs required the displacement of local communities, as well as the creation of the associated infrastructure, including dams, pipelines, and water treatment facilities. These developments were essential to support the industrial growth of the Huddersfield area during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Further reading

Bowtell, Harold D.    Reservoir Railways of the Yorkshire Pennines