Hanningfield reservoir celebrates 50 golden years of supplying drinking water this September.
The reservoir, the second largest in the county, provides water to around 540,000 homes in the Essex area.
A fortnight of festivities has been lined up to celebrate including events for staff past and present, local schoolchildren, parishioners and members of the public.
The birthday programme kicks off on September 2nd with a colourful Dragon Boat race on the reservoir which is open to the public and will raise money for a number of local charities.
Dragon boat racing is a fast-growing water sport and has ancient Chinese origins. This is the first time in 50 years boats other than operational boats have been allowed on the reservoir.
This event, which runs from 10am-4pm, is being jointly organised with Billericay Rotary Club and will be opened by Lord Hanningfield and Lord Petre.
Those attending this race will also be able to visit the Essex Wildlife Trust open day which is being held next to the reservoir and will feature a range of attractions for all the family.
On September 9th a Golden Trout fishing competition takes place at the reservoir. Fifty Golden Trout will be placed into the reservoir to mark the 50th birthday and there will be a prize for any fisherman who catches one.
This event is also open to public spectators and will raise money for WaterAid, an international charity which aims to overcome poverty by enabling the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.
For further information call 01268 712 815.
Other birthday events include a staff bike ride from Abberton reservoir to Hanningfield to raise money for charity, a visit to the reservoir by children from St Peter’s School, West Hanningfield and an afternoon tea for parishioners which will include a look back at the history of Hanningfield.
John Devall, operations director at Essex & Suffolk Water said: “Hanningfield reservoir has become an important landmark in the Essex countryside. It continues to provide top quality drinking water and is also an important leisure facility for the local community.”
For further information please call Claire Bishop on 01245 212010.
50 facts you might not have known about Hanningfield reservoir….
The reservoir covers the ancient hamlet of Peasdown.
Before the reservoir was built, the area was called the Sandon Valley.
The main dam is a mass of earth with a puddle clay core and is around 1.25 miles long.
The dam straight was the longest in Europe when built.
One earth moving machine was left in the reservoir and covered in concrete.
The maximum depth of water is16.76 metres (55 feet).
The average depth of the water is 7.62 metres (25 feet).
The length of the perimeter is approximately 6 miles.
The reservoir took five years to build.
At 100% the reservoir storage is 26075 million litres, the equivalent of 10,430 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Hanningfield is the second largest reservoir in Essex.
The number of staff working out of the Hanningfield site is 326.
The longest serving employee working at Hanningfield has been there for 46 years.
Water is pumped nine miles from the rivers Blackwater and Chelmer to fill the reservoir.
There are no buildings left under the reservoir.
W&C French were the main contractors for building the reservoir.
Hanningfield reservoir was built by the South Essex and Southend Waterworks companies and work started in 1951.
The water treatment works went into production in August 1956.
The works were opened by the Rt Hon Henry Brooke, MP, Minister of Housing and Local Government, in Sept 1957.
The reservoir cost approximately £6m to build in 1957.
The highest temperature ever recorded at the reservoir was 36.5°C on August 11th 2003.
The wettest year at the reservoir was in 1960 - 789.2mm of rain fell.
The average annual rainfall (1960-2006) is 571.4mm.
The longest period without rainfall was for 36 days from 22nd July - 26th August 1976
The lowest reservoir level was in the first week of November 1996 when it was 39.2% full.
When the reservoir was first built it took 200 days to fill.
The reservoir stocks 50,000 fish each year.
TV personality Chris Tarrant, footballer David Seaman and cricketer Keith Fletcher have fished at Hanningfield.
The reservoir has a fleet of 40 fishing boats, two rowing boats and one speed boat.
There are two angling clubs based at the reservoir.
The reservoir used to have a water quality monitoring station called the ‘iron lady’ which is now a raft for terns.
The newest addition to the facilities at the reservoir is Café on the water which opened in Easter 2007.
The biggest fish caught to date stands at 24lb 1oz and was caught by John Hammond in 1998.
The reservoir played host to the 2nd leg of the prestigious 1999 European Fly fishing Championship, won by team Hanningfield.
There are over 250 acres of woodland around the reservoir and the treatment works which includes some notable large oak trees.
There are four woods around the reservoir – Chesnut, Peninsula, Well and Hawkswood.
Hanningfield Nature Reserve was first set up in 1992.
The Essex Wildlife Trust Visitors’ Centre, which is next to the reservoir, was opened in 2000.
There were 46,500 visitors to the Essex Wildlife Trust Visitors’ Centre during 2006 / 2007.
There are four bird hides overlooking the reservoir.
The reservoir has a birdwatchers’ den called Rawl Hide.
Hanningfield reservoir is designated as being very important for seven species of duck.
Names of the buildings demolished to make way for the reservoir include Fremnells, Giffords & Pynnings.
When full, the reservoir has 200 continuous days’ storage.
It serves people in Southend, the London Boroughs of Barking, Dagenham, Redbridge, and the Thurrock area.
The water held there goes on to supply 540,000 homes which is about 1.5 million people.
In the winter, when there is plenty of water in the rivers, up to 240 million litres of water a day is pumped in to the reservoir, whilst 150 million litres of water a day is drawn out all year round.
The name of Hanningfield goes back a long way. It means a portion of cleared forest land which was once owned by the family Hann or Ham, who was thought to be a Saxon tribal leader.
The reservoir is covered by a Bird Sanctuary Order.
Hanningfield treatment works can produce a maximum 225 million litres a day which is over 50% of the average daily demand for Essex.