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Thirlmere Aqueduct
Straining Well, Lake Thirlmere, Cumbria to Prestwich Reservoir, Manchester
associated engineer
George Henry Hill
date  1890 - 12th October 1894
era  Victorian  |  category  Aqueduct  |  reference  NY321149
ICE reference number  HEW 1022
Thirlmere Aqueduct is the longest aqueduct in Britain, and has a maximum capacity of 227 million litres per day. When first commissioned in 1894, it ran 153km to transport water from Lake Thirlmere to reservoirs at Prestwich, some 6km northwest of Manchester.
For some 22.5km of its length, the water in the aqueduct runs in tunnels, for 58km it runs through cut-and-cover constructed sections, and for 72.5km it runs through cast iron pipes. The longest tunnel is the first from Thirlmere. It runs under Dunmail Rise, the pass just south of Thirlmere, leading to Ambleside. It is 4.7km long.
A second pipeline was completed in 1904, a third in 1915, and a fourth in 1927. The first three pipelines are in cast iron and the fourth, which terminates at Lostock Pumping Station, is made of welded steel.
Each pipeline was equipped at its inlet with an equilibrium float valve that responded automatically to minor flow changes but tripped shut in the event of a high flow, such as you would get if a pipe burst. Most of these valves had to be modified in the 1940s to accommodate the installation of temporary axial flow pumps. These increased the aqueduct's capacity, which was needed pending the completion of the Haweswater Aqueduct.
Some intermediate pipeline valves were also designed for automatic closing in the event of bursts — a moving paddle triggering off a pneumatic servo system to close what may have been the forerunners of present-day tilting disc valves.
Resident engineers: E.P. Bell (first 9 miles), M. Smallpiece (20 miles), R. Barnett (16.25 miles including Lune siphon and bridge), W.A. Legg (14.75 miles), S.B. Winser, E.P. Fairbairn (20 miles near Preston), A.S. Gibson (16.75 miles and Prestwich Reservoir)
Main contractors: Morrison & Mason; Vernon & Co; Monk & Newell; T.W. Chester; McCrea & McFarland; John Aird & Sons; Watt & Wilson; William Webster; Kirk, Knight & Co; Macfarlane, Strang & Co; Staveley Coal & Iron Co; Cochrane & Co; Sharpe & Co; Blakeborough & Sons; G.B. Smith & Co; Stockton Forge Co; Ashbury Railway Carriage & Iron Co
Research: PD and AJD
various issues from 16th October 1891 to 5th February 1892
reference sources   CEH North

Thirlmere Aqueduct