Today Lynne and I went for a walk around Swinsty Reservoir near Harrogate. It was wild, wet and windy! The rain, almost sleet, was blowing in sheets across the reservoir. The strong north-westerly was whipping up 'white horses'. The ducks and geese were facing the wind as they rode the waves like surfers!
As we crossed the dam the wind eased slightly as we moved into the shelter of the hillside. Looking south we could see where the River Washburn continues its descent to eventually join the River Wharfe. In my family history research I came across a great, great, great uncle who worked on the construction of the Washburn reservoirs. Its a bit of a sad story as he left East Marton near Gargrave after his wife and baby died. He then left the village to work on construction projects in Yorkshire and Lancashire. He was recorded in the 1871 Census for the Washburn Reservoir. The workforce was housed in 'The Huts' a specially constructed temporary village. Eventually he ended up in the workhouse in Littleborough in Lancashire. Amazingly over half a century later I was born in Birch Hill Hospital in Littleborough which was originally the workhouse! Quite an incredible coincidence!
My great x3 uncle was one of a labour force of around 300 men working for the Leeds Waterworks Company. The bulk of the materials for the dam came to Starbeck near Harrogate by rail. They were then transported to the Washburn site by using a steam traction engine pulling wagons. However a year later, in 1872, this practice was finished due to the damage being caused to the 'turnpike road' now the A59. The reservoir site even had a narrow gauge railway with two steam locomotives.
Last week Lynne and I went to the Timble Inn for her birthday. We had a lovely meal in what is now described as 'a romantic 18th century coaching inn situated in the intoxicating clean air of an unspoilt hamlet nestling in the beautiful Washburn Valley'. A local Washburn man, John Dickinson, wrote in his diary in the 1870's complaining that . . . . "rough navvies were occupying the local inn at Timble". He expressed the hope that they will soon be gone!
I wonder if my great x3 uncle was among them?
Have a great week!
* My attempt at a selfie in the wild, wet and windy conditions at Swinsty today! Perhaps I need to get a selfie stick as my arm doesn't seem long enough to get us both in. Mind you it was a howling gale. My excuse is that I have only had my new smart phone for a few weeks and I am still getting used to it!