Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘rivington’

Liverpool reservoir open to the public for just one day

High Park Street Reservoir in Toxteth is to be open to the public for just one day as part of English Heritage’s Heritage Open Days. There are a lot of buildings open in Liverpool as part of Heritage Open Days this year, and the High Park Street Reservoir can be seen as part of the Toxteth Town Hall event.

This listed building is currently owned by the Dingle 2000 Development Trust. The Trust tried to renovate it for use by the community, but rising costs forced them to put their plans on hold.

The reservoir is one of many which were built in the Victorian period to serve Liverpool once it became clear that the natural local sources (wells, streams, springs) were not up to the job of supplying a growing city.

Water for Liverpool

In the dim and distant past, villages would have been established on a site which had certain essentials: food, shelter, a defensible area, and most importantly, a water supply.

However, as the industrial revolution gained pace, and cities like Liverpool, London and Manchester became the centre of huge swathes of immigration and population increase, the strain on the water supply became unbearable. Adding to this were the demands on water from industry itself – all those coal-fired steam engines needed a constant water source.

So from streams, wells and springs, water supplies developed into reservoirs, pumps and dams. Mather’s Dam and Jackson’s Dam near central Liverpool had taken water from a stream to feed industry since the 17th Century. However, by the end of the 19th  Century these small localised sources were not enough, and schemes to alleviate shortages were planned.

Rivington Reservoir below Anglezarke Moor in the Pennines was constructed between 1852 and 1856. At the same time water fountains were appearing across Liverpool and more wells were being sunk throughout the city. Reservoirs like that on High Park Street were also built at Aubrey Street, Breeze Hill, Dudlow Lane, Kensington, Speke, Torr Street and Woolton (on the aptly named Reservoir Road).

High Park Street reservoir was built in 1855, while the Rivington building project was under way. The walls are four foot thick, and would have been lined with bitumen to create a watertight seal. Nine inches of brick were placed inside this bitumen. Towers were attached to some of these reservoirs to improve the ‘head’ of water – the water pressure needed to save on the need to pump. High Park Street has such a tower, and the whole structure is now a listed building.

Recommended Reading

Underground Liverpool by Jim MooreA lot of the detail in this article comes from Underground Liverpool by Jim Moore (1998, Bluecoat Press). The book includes a chapter called Water supplies in Liverpool which covers the Rivington project, the building of water fountains and local reservoirs, as well as later projects in Wales. There’s also summary information on the reservoirs mentioned above.

Liverpool Castle Reconstruction

Plan of Liverpool Castle by E.W. Cox, from Wikipedia

Plan of Liverpool Castle by E.W. Cox, from Wikipedia

Last weekend I visited Liverpool Castle. The castle itself was pulled down in 1715 and St George’s Church built in its place. However in 1895 E.W. Cox prepared a reconstruction for the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, and in the first decade of the 20th Century the first Viscount Leverhulme built a reconstruction of the ruins of the castle in the village of Rivington near Chorley. Today it stands in Lever Park, a large area of woodland on the east bank of Rivington Reservoir.

The replica castle stands on high ground overlooking the reservoir, and though of course it can never quite match the shape of the landscape in medieval Liverpool, the lake acts as a stand-in for the Pool (compare this plan on Wikipedia with the satellite view on Google Maps). The position of the Mersey itself would have been in a west to east direction, on the north side of the two most complete towers at Rivington.

The castle was incomplete by the time of Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925 and work stopped, though the majority of the intended layout was in place. Today the castle has its fair share of graffiti, and evidence of fires and drinking are all around. However, it’s a great place to go to get a feel for one of Liverpool’s lost gems.

I’m not sure whether this castle is a full-scale replica or not, so anyone who could shed a bit of light on it would be most helpful! If you’ve been there yourself, what did you think of the place?

The Castle is the subject of my first ever Flickr upload! All Creative Commons, so do with them what you like, as long as you credit me (if you use them please link to this blog or Historic Liverpool).