History saved - and it will save us £2 million

The 200-year-old weir at Back Waterloo, Todmorden, which will be re-sited and made into a monument to the town's industrial heritage
The 200-year-old weir at Back Waterloo, Todmorden, which will be re-sited and made into a monument to the town's industrial heritage

A WEIR which played a prominent role in Todmorden’s industrial history will be re-sited and made into a heritage feature for future generations.

As part of its work on phase three of the Todmorden flood alleviation scheme, the Environment Agency (EA) identified the need to remove the approximately 200-year-old weir located near to Back Waterloo cottages, on Rochdale Road.

If it was left in place, additional work costing in the region of £2m would have to be carried out upstream as the flood water levels would be higher with the weir in place.

After discussions with groups such as Todmorden Civic Society and Calderdale Council’s conservation team, the EA has produced a plan to re-site the mechanical structure and supporting stones close to its original location to preserve its historic context.

Will Benedikz, EA project engineer, said the weir’s mechanical structure is of local historic significance and is an interesting feature in Walsden Water.

“We were asked if we could make a heritage weir using some of the existing stone and put it in an appropriate location as a monument to the industrial past,” he said.

“We feel it’s important to have it as close to the original as possible, so there’s a sense of it belonging.”

The weir was once used to power the former Fielden’s Waterside Mill by regulating the flow from Walsden Water through mechanical sluice gate structures via a mill race. The mill race fed a water wheel on the site of what is now Morrisons supermarket.

A new location for the weir structure has yet to be confirmed. The consultation period closes next week and the current preferred site is green space on Oak Street, opposite the weir’s existing position.

“It would be an easily visible feature of interest to visitors entering Todmorden,” Will said.

He thanked contractors Volker Stevin for paying for the weir project.

The civic society will provide an information board at the new site to explain the history of the weir.

Chairman Paul Clarke said: “The board will include the fundamentals of how Walsden Water was used as a source of energy for cotton mills along the valley.

“We are happy with the support from the Environment Agency for this project and are delighted that a piece of industrial heritage is being saved for future generations.”

It is hoped the weir will be in its new location by the summer.