Kielder Water celebrates ruby anniversary

One of the North East’s most scenic landmarks is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its official opening.

At 11.35am on 26th May 1982, HRH The Queen arrived in Northumberland alongside her husband HRH Prince Phillip to declare Kielder Water officially open for supply.

The reservoir, which is Northumbrian Water’s most famous asset, cost £167m and took seven whole years to construct before being put into supply for customers across the North East, as well as the region’s industry. Due to the sheer scale, the reservoir then took a further two years to fill with water completely.

Water collected at Kielder can serve treatment works across the water company’s supply area covering 2.8million customers and many businesses.

Originally developed to support industrial growth as far away as Teesside, the reservoir was designed to operate in conjunction with a network of tunnels that connect the Tyne with the Wear, Derwent and Tees, allowing Kielder to support water demand across the North East.

The sheer power of the 200 million litre reservoir is also harnessed as part of Northumbrian Water’s efforts to support green power generation, as the dam hosts the largest hydro power plant of its kind in England, with a capacity of 6,000kW.

For the past 40 years, millions of people from all over the world have visited the site, which boasts a fantastic array of wildlife including ospreys, red squirrels and water voles. It also hosts events including Kielder Marathon – “Britain’s Most Beautiful”.

As well as supporting local wildlife, the tranquil site also supports 450 jobs in the local economy.

To celebrate the milestone birthday, Northumbrian Water will be carrying out an array of different events over the next few months – including a giant summer tea party.

Speaking at the time of the opening, HRH The Queen said: “This scheme stems from a long and distinguished British tradition – ingenuity and skills which have found expression in the past in the creation of canals, railways and roads and have met a 20th century challenge with imagination.

“Natural resources have been made to serve our needs on a scale which only a few decades ago would have seemed unthinkable.”

David Hall, Head of Commercial at Northumbrian Water, said: “It feels very poignant that we are celebrating this ruby anniversary just days before The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is set to take place.

“We are just as proud of the work put into Kielder now as we were 40 years ago, and as well as continuing to serve the public’s water needs, the site is still one of the region’s most popular tourism destinations.

“I hope that we will continue to see the site enjoyed and treasured by families, adventurers, travellers and of course locals over the next 40 years.”

Kielder is known as Northern Europe’s largest manufactured lake, as well as being surrounded by England’s largest forest.

Additional facts and figures:

  • The reservoir is capable of holding 200,000 million litres (44,000 million gallons) of water.
  • Manpower on the construction reached peaks of 1,500 engineers and construction workers.
  • It has a surface area of 1,086 hectares (2,740 acres).
  • Its shoreline, including Bakethin, is 27 miles and the depth is 52 metres (170 feet) at the deepest point.
  • Kielder Dam is 1.2km long and 52m high and is constructed of glacial clay originally deposited more than 15,000 years ago.
  • Water release is controlled from the valve tower, which stands 70m (230 feet) high (the height of a 23 storey building).
  • A water release of Kielder’s maximum 1,300 million litres per day (Mld) can produce enough power to illuminate a town the size of nearby Hexham (population 11,000)
  • Kielder can provide up to 909 million litres of water a day, that is nearly as much as all other sources in the region
  • The valve tower is taller than nelsons column at 70m and it was built in a record 10 days using a continuous concrete-pour process! It has 255 steps that lead up to the glazed operational gallery – 15m above the water level.



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