The Construction of Empingham Reservoir

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The construction of Empingham Reservoir (which was later known as Rutland Water).





Film type:

Colour / Sound




Stanley Schofield Productions Ltd

Master format:



We open with shots of the Quorn hunt (signifying local traditions) followed by a map showing areas of the East Midlands that are scheduled for expansion which explains the need for a new reservoir in the region. View of new houses and the steelworks at Corby in Northamptonshire. Views of the Nene and Welland rivers which are not large enough to provide all the local water needs but will feed the new reservoir. The plan was initiated by the Welland and Nene Rivers Authority, and we see the engineer Leonard Brown standing in a field looking over countryside as he talks about the search for a suitable location. The site at Empingham is chosen and the work begins following an Act of Parliament in 1970.

Views of the early work to sink bore holes to extract core samples for analysis. Maps show how the River Gwash was diverted underground. We then see work on the outlet shaft and the creation of a tunnel for the Gwash. Stages in the construction of the reservoir (by the civil engineers Gleeson) are shown including drilling the drainage holes that are needed in the clay surface during 1972 and the use of scrapers to move earth from a borrow pit to build the site during 1973 and 1974. We also see the construction of a tunnel to move water from the Nene at Wansford in Cambridgeshire and the Welland at Tinwell in Rutland. During the work we see archaeologists at an Anglo-Saxon graveyard which was discovered.

The next sequence shows the dam and reservoir complete in 1975, and already containing some water from the Gwash. The film considers the leisure uses of the reservoir, and we see work underway on roads and scenes shot at the Anglian Water fish hatchery nearby. We then see the completed Tinwell, Wansford and Empingham pumping stations which move the water from the river network into the reservoir. We then see Denis Howell MP switching on the main flow into the reservoir at a ceremony held on 15 September 1975, it was expected that the reservoir would take eighteen months to fill. Finally, there are views of Normanton Church and Hambleton Old Hall which have been preserved within the project.


Produced by the Welland and Nene River Division [of Anglian Water] in association with Stanley Schofield Productions


During the construction of the reservoir (and the shooting of this film) the county of Rutland was absorbed into Leicestershire and did not regain independence until 1997.