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Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:14 UK
The "lost village" of Mardale
Looking up one of the old Mardale roads in 2003
Looking up one of the old Mardale roads during 2003

The village of Mardale in the Lake District disappeared when the Haweswater valley was flooded in 1939.

It was done to create a reservoir to provide for the water needs of Manchester.

When water levels are very low, the outline of the village can still be seen.

It is usually only visible in long, dry summers, but has started to reappear because of the recent lack of rain.

Dry start to year

United Utilities, which looks after Cumbria's water supplies, said water levels in the Haweswater & Thirlmere reservoirs were just over 50% full, compared to a normal year of 77% at the same point in the year.

This has been the driest January to May period since United Utilities rainfall records began 74 years ago, meaning reservoir stocks are low for this time of year.

A temporary hosepipe ban is to be introduced in most of north-west England for the first time in 14 years to help protect stocks.

Creation of a reservoir

About Mardale
The pub in Mardale was called the Dun Bull.
Haweswater is one of the largest RSPB reserves in the country at 27,000 acres.
A male Golden Eagle can often be seen at Haweswater.

The Haweswater Dam was considered to be an engineering feat in its time.

The creation of a reservoir in the Haweswater area was first looked at by a Royal Commission in 1866.

Fifty years later in 1919 an Act of Parliament enabled the development of Haweswater beck into a reservoir with a capacity 85,000 million litres.

Construction started in 1929 on the dam however, was abandoned for three years between 1931 and 1934.

Once complete the reservoir took almost a year to fill with the first recorded water overtopping and flowing down the overflow slipway in 1941.

End of a village

Last service at Mardale church
Crowds gathered for the last service to be held at Mardale church. Pcc British Pathe 1935

One of the major hurdles to the building of a reservoir in the Haweswater Valley was the village of Mardale.

Before the water levels could rise the villagers were moved out and their homes and other buildings dismantled.

At the centre of village life is the church. Bodies buried in the graveyard were exhumed and many reburied at Shap.

Windows and some of the stones from the church were reused in the draw-off tower situated a little way back from the dam wall.

Two hundred men worked on the construction of the dam. They lived in a temporary village called Burnbanks, with their families which was built nearby.

Unique construction

The dam measures 472 m long and is 36 m high. It is built from 44 separate buttressed units, joined together with flexible joints.

Water levels start to rise behind the new Haweswater dam.
Water levels start to rise behind the new Haweswater dam. Pic British Pathe 1938

At its base the dam is around 34m wide rising to a 30cm walkway along the top.

This construction method is unique and the Haweswater dam is said to be one of only two in the world. It is also the second largest dam in the country, behind the Kielder project.

Around 120,000 cubic metres of concrete was used in the construction with much of the stone quarried locally.

Water to Manchester

Water captured at Haweswater is used to supply Manchester via a number of large pipes and aqueducts.

Around 350 million litres of water are fed to Manchester everyday. This would fill around 140 Olympic sized swimming pools.

It takes almost 24 hours to transfer a drop of water between Thirlmere and Manchester using gravity.

The amount of water taken from the reservoir in a year is the equivalent to only 60 seconds of water travelling over Niagara Falls.

Greater Manchester gets its water from three sources in the Lake District - Haweswater, Thirlmere and the Longdendale reservoirs.

In pictures: Low water levels
15 Jul 10 |  History
Cumbria's magnificent Golden Eagle
29 Apr 10 |  Nature & Outdoors


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