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Walton Reservoirs
West Molesey, Surrey, UK
associated engineer
Sir James William Restler
Sir Jonathan Roberts Davidson
date  circa 1905 - 13th April 1907, 1935 - 1939, 1957 - 1962
era  Modern  |  category  Dam/Reservoir  |  reference  TQ117680
ICE reference number  HEW 2229
The Walton Reservoirs are a group of three reservoirs in Surrey that serve London. The earliest are the Knight and the Bessborough, which date from 1907. The Queen Elizabeth II storage reservoir was constructed more than half a century later. All remain operational.
The Southwark & Vauxhall Waterworks Company was empowered by the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Act 1898 to build two storage reservoirs, an intake from the River Thames, filter beds and a pumping station near Walton-on-Thames. The company acquired Apps Court mansion and land in 1899 from the Gill family, and demolished the house to build the reservoirs. However, construction did not start until after the Metropolitan Water Board had taken over the company in 1904.
The two reservoirs form a pair of basins south of the A3050 Hurst Road. The western Knight Reservoir (TQ116678) has a capacity of 2,180 million litres, with a surface area of 20.8ha and a perimeter of 1.8km. Its inlet pipes and outlet tower are both located in the northern apex. The eastern Bessborough Reservoir (TQ121681) contains 3,260 million litres with a water area of 30ha and a 2km long perimeter. It has an outlet tower at its north west corner.
The water discharged from the Knight and Bessborough reservoirs flows under gravity to the filter beds at Hampton (TQ130692), where it actuates three hydraulic turbines coupled directly to single stage centrifugal pumps. This allows the level difference (9.75m) between the reservoirs and the filter beds to be used to lift more water into the reservoirs by hydroelectric power.
The works consisted of 1.15 million cu m of excavation, and provision of 153,000 cu m of puddle clay and 57,000 cu m of Portland cement concrete. James Restler (1851-1918), former Engineer to the Southwark & Vauxhall Waterworks Company and Deputy Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Water Board from 1905, designed the works.
The reservoirs were inaugurated on 13th April 1907 and cost some £300,000. The cost of total scheme, including the pumping station completed in 1911 at the north end of the embankment separating the basins (TQ117683), was approximately £419,000.
The Metropolitan Water Board Act 1935 authorised the excavation of another storage reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, south of the B369 Walton Road on part of the Holly Lodge estate. Construction was supervised by the board’s Chief Engineer Jonathan Davidson (1874-1961, knighted in 1942), but work stopped when World War II started in 1939 and not resumed until 1957.
It was named Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir (TQ118670) and was commissioned in 1962. It's 4m higher than the earlier pair of reservoirs and holds 19,500 million litres of water with a surface area of 128.3ha and a perimeter of 4.2km. Its inlet and outlet works are on the north bank.
In 2009 it was estimated that at least 750,000 tonnes of sand and gravel could be recovered from within the reservoir’s footprint.
All three reservoirs are surrounded by earthen embankment dams with clay cores. They are part of the South West London Waterbodies Special Protection Area, and are in a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Ramsar Site, noted for their varied and rare bird life.
Resident engineer (1957-620: George McIldowie
Research: ECPK
"Island Barn Reservoir: Ceremony of Cutting the First Sod October 24, 1908", Metropolitan Water Board, London, 1908
"Obituary: Sir James William Restler, K.B.E., 1851-1918" in ICE Proceedings, Vol.211, p.398, London, January 192
"Obituary: George McIldowie, 1886-1953" in ICE Proceedings, Vol.3, p.760, London, November 1954
"Discussion: Pumping Problems – Present and Future" by W.E. Doran et al, in ICE Proceedings, Vol.5, pp.684-700, London, December 1956
"Obituary: Colonel Sir Jonathan Roberts Davidson, CMG, 1874-1961", in ICE Proceedings, Vol.22, pp.339-340, London, July 1962
"Surrey Minerals Plan: Assessment of Potential Yield for Selected Primary Aggregate Sites, Surrey" by GWP Consultants, Charlbury, September 2009
reference sources   CEH Lond

Walton Reservoirs