EXACTLY 100 years ago this week, Richmond Town Council approved plans to build a £800, 200,000 gallon reservoir on the high land to the north of the town.
This snippet gave us an excuse to scurry into the Echo’s archive to see what we could find out.
Because, from at least the 16th Century, Richmond’s water supply came from the Coalsgarth springs above the racecourse, and it was piped – sometimes through hollowed out elm branches – down the daleside into the town centre, where there was an underground reservoir at the top of the Market Place.
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WATERY OBELISK: Richmond Market Place from the castle in August 1974, with the 1771 obelisk that was erected over a 12,000 gallon reservoir. The cricket club behind only has a small wooden pavilion, and the houses of Prior and Bolton avenues are just being built on the hillside. The Victoria Reservoir was somewhere in the top left hand corner of the picture
In 1771, the old market cross on top of the reservoir was replaced by the landmark obelisk, and the reservoir was enlarged so that it could hold 12,000 gallons.
Somewhere up Hurgill Road near the racecourse, there is a Grade II listed cistern, built into the hillside, which is dated 1812. It was built to channel water from the Aislabeck springs into the town centre reservoir.
Such things were rendered obsolete in 1837 when Lord Dundas leased land at High Coalsgarth to the town council for 900 years so that a new reservoir could be built. This reservoir delivered 150 gallons a minute to the town centre and was named after the new queen, Victoria.
DANGEROUS BUILDING: The top of Richmond Market Place fenced off because Austin's toyshop had partially collapsed during renovation in August 1978. It looks to have pulled through alright, though, as does Rodbers of Richmond on its left, which has lost the first floor windows and reverted to its original Georgian style. The Richmond Hotel is on the left.
Come the start of the 20th Century, the Victoria Reservoir was holding 70,000 gallons. The population was growing, particularly due to the number of soldiers in the town, and demand for water was increasing exponentially – some advanced people even had flushing toilets.
So the council agreed to build a second reservoir, 55ft wide by 45ft long and 10ft deep.
Today, there are two reservoirs marked near the racecourse on the Ordnance Survey map, but both appear to have been filled in.
RAILWAY PARTY: This picture has been filed wrongly, as it shows a party at Scorton station on September 10, 1964, celebrating that the Richmond to Darlington line was still open. The line had been due to succumb to the first swingings of the Beeching Axe but a concerted local campaign kept it open. In the Scorton area, the campaign was run by the formidable Miss Bridget Talbot of Kipling Hall. Her defiant handmade poster on the railways outside the station party said: "The trains are still running. With 6,000 deaths on the roads, why close the railways? We fight to a finish to save lives and mutilation and to keep railwaymen off the dole."
It would be superb if someone could send us a picture of the Hurgill Road cistern and can anyone tell us if anything remains of the reservoir beneath the obelisk – we’ll have to tap very hard on the ground there to see if it rings hollow.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any watery information, or if any of today's other archive pictures trigger any memories or pieces of information.
RAIL REPRIEVE: Richmond station in December 1964 when local MP Tim Kitson was claiming victory after his Minister of Transport Tom Fraser had said he was not going to carry out the Beeching threat and close the Richmond to Darlington line. Well, not yet anyway - there was to be a second round of closures and, despite protests, it closed to passengers on March 3, 1969