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Photographs by courtesy of, Eric Fowell, Samuel Powell, Donald Pack & Rangers of Sywell Country Park.

The Rushden and Higham Ferrers Water Board
Part 5: Turning on the Water

Official opening of Sywell Reservoir, 2nd July 1906, by Mr.George Denton.
Opening Sywell Reservoir

The formal opening of the reservoir took place on 2nd July 1906.  People arrived by brake and other vehicles and cycles from Rushden and Higham Ferrers.  At noon, the engineer Mr R E Middleton MICE, the contractor Messrs E Nunn and the resident engineer Mr J Wilson were present and readily explained the details of the works in a guided tour. Local photographers, including Mr S Powell of Rushden, recorded the tour and pictured Mr George Denton CC, the Chairman of the Board, with his hand on the valve in the act of turning on the water.

The party inspected the dam, which is 1,000 feet in length and fourteen feet wide at the top, and the valve tower rising prominently from the reservoir into which the water passed before being fed to the filter beds.  From the three filters the water flowed into the clear water tank lined with white enamel bricks and then to the suction well at the engine house with its gas producer plant and two powerful engines of 42hp (nominal) and two pumps.  These pumped the water through nearly 11 miles of the rising main, taking about 3½ hours for the water to travel to the service reservoir at Bedford Road, Rushden.

The Dignitaries on their way from Sywell to Rushden stopping at Irchester Railway Station.
The Dignitaries at Irchester Railway Station

The tour was adjourned for lunch in a large marquee where a “capital cold collation” had been provided by Mr Nixon of Northampton.  Mr Denton presided and those present included Messrs R E Middleton MICE, A E Nunn (Contractor), T Patenall JP (Mayor of Higham Ferrers), T Swindall JP (Chairman of Rushden Urban Council), Major Stockdale, Messrs T A Dickson, R G Scriven, C J K Woolston JP (Wellingborough Council), C B Fisher (Market Harborough), Dr Paget (Medical Officer of Health), Messrs O Parker JP, J Claridge JP, J S Clipson, F Ballard, A Mantle, C S R Palmer, G S Mason (Secretary), J Wykes Ashdowne (Treasurer).  Mr Denton was ‘heartily received’.  There were lots of speeches and the formalities concluded with a toast to ‘The King’.

Crowds at Ward's Corner to witness the historic moment when water was turned on to the town.
Ward's Corner
Following lunch further time was spent inspecting different parts of the works before the company dispersed.  Part of the contingent from Rushden drove to the Vestry Hall where Mr Denton turned the valve at ‘Ward’s Corner’ [now W H Wills’corner] allowing the new supply into the mains.

The project had cost the Water Board a total of £110,000.

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