Film ID:
YFA 1298



Visitor Tabs


This film is a record of the scheme to provide water from the River Derwent to Sheffield and other Yorkshire cities. This is possibly a promotional film for the project.

A telex machine which records information and a system monitoring board are shown. Pedestrians are walking in the rain around Sheffield. The narrator begins by quoting from Coleridge's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, "Water, water everywhere but ne'er a drop to drink." We are then told that despite the rain Sheffield is close to being short of water, and that there is no suitable water supply close to the city. There are shots of local reservoirs and the River Don, which we are told is too polluted for use. The film then moves to the North Yorkshire Moor near Fylingdales where the River Derwent rises.

In 1957 Sheffield Waterworks conceived a plan to divert a portion of the river's flow to supply the city with fresh water. With the aid of a wall-chart the whole project is explained: the extraction and treatment of river water at Elvington; the laying of thirty-seven miles of pipeline to a reservoir at Hoober supplying Sheffield and Rotherham; and the creation of two diversions to Leeds and Barnsley at Brayton and Frickley respectively.

In 1960 officials began to monitor the river's flow rate and test the water quality. 1963 saw the beginnings of construction work on the project. A copper dam was installed at the extraction point and foundations where laid for the low lift pump. The difficulties of laying the pipeline are illustrated by showing the multiple roads, rail-lines, rivers and canals which need to be crossed. There is a demonstration of how the pipeline will cross the River Ouse. The pipe sections are constructed on the bank of the river. Then a trench is excavated in the river bed. The sections are linked and then launched down the bank. Once in the water they are positioned and lowered into place using pontoons. They are then joined to the pipeline on each bank, the joins sealed with bitumen.

In April 1962 the main pipeline was begun. Four units worked in succession on the route: preparing and excavating; laying the sections; sealing; and filling in the trench and making good. At Elvington the foundations of the treatment centre and its above ground structures are shown. A model of the finished site is shown to demonstrate how the centre will function once operational. The wet spring of 1963 slowed the development of the project; however, work soon resumed pace and, and there are workers busy at various tasks around the site. The pipeline makes steady progress, workers blast through rock which is impeding the path of the pipes. One shot shows the path of the pipeline snaking across the countryside. Pipes are welded, sealed and then backfilled.

In 1963 the balancing reservoir at Brayton Barff and the pumping station at Frickley were constructed. At Hoober the construction of the reservoir is shown, from first ground work to completion. On August 21st, 1963, the final section of the pipeline was laid and sealed by a representative of CJB and Alderman Ironmonger the Chair of the Sheffield Waterworks Committee. At Elvington, the structures of the Treatment Centre are now finished and waiting to be put into action. Final work is done, the removal of the copper dam and filling the filters. The automated functions of the centre are explained and the self-cleaning filter shown at work. The system is switched on and we see and hear the low lift pumps begin to draw water into the centre. After a minor adjustment of the controls the high lift pumps are switched on and the fresh water is sent on its way to Sheffield.