You may think, with good cause, that the reservoir at Fernilee was constructed to supply water to the inhabitants of Whaley Bridge. Not so. And, once again, Toddbrook and Combs are not reservoirs for drinking water; they are simply there to supply the canal.
Prior to 1825 the water supply of the inhabitants of Stockport was obtained from springs and wells in various parts of the town.
In that year an act of Parliament was obtained, entitled:
“An Act for better supplying with water the Town and Township of Stockport, the Township of Brinnington and several other Townships adjoining thereto, in the Counties Palatine of Chester and Lancaster”
In 1850 a Joint Stock Company was formed and known as the Stockport Waterworks Company under the Chairmanship of Mr. Henry Marsland, a former Member of Parliament for Stockport.
There followed a series of other water companies and in 1861 Stockport District Waterworks Company was formed and obtained itself and Act of Parliament to supply water to Stockport.
This new company was headed by Mr. William John Legh of Lyme Hall.
Under this Act Horse Coppice Reservoir was constructed in Lyme Park and one bed of sand Filters at High Lane.
In 1863 the Companies were amalgamated and known as Stockport District Waterworks Company.
In 1872 a second reservoir was constructed at Lyme Park: Bollinhurst Reservoir
It was soon found that the available sources were inadequate to cope with increasing consumption and that extensions were necessary.
The Water Corporation obtained, via Parliament, powers to construct reservoirs in the Kinder, Sett and Hollingworth Clough Valleys.
The dam across the River Kinder was designed by James Mansergh & Sons. Tenders were invited and the contract was awarded to Abram Kellet.
The contract was to commence on May 22nd 1903 and to be completed in 7 years.
There were lots of problems with foundation works and in 1907 the masonry dam was abandoned in favour of an earthwork embankment type.
G H Hill & Sons were appointed Engineers and Basil Mackenzie (keep an eye on that name) was to carry out the works. As the completion date was fast approaching work had to carry on 24 hours a day and instead of filter beds a mechanical filtration plant was built.
The reservoir first overflowed on January, 16th 1912 but was officially opened on July 11th, 1912.
Once again it quickly became obvious that these water supplies from the reservoirs were good but not adequate.
So now it was time to find further reserves and the Water Board looked to the valley above Whaley Bridge.
The Dale of Goyt proved to be too much of a chance to miss for the Water Board.
It was just perfect.
It had an enormous catchment area and was fairly remote.
The Chilworth Powder Mill had closed and farms and houses could be bought cheaply enough.
There was just a small village nearby: Fernilee, so called after “ferny-lea” an open pasture land abounding with scented ferns.
So plans were put in place to construct a dam across the valley.
This is The Hollows as you look at the picture the Powder Mill was to the left and Oldfield farm was to the right, in today’s terms if you were to stand about 150 yards from the dam on the old railway line looking over the water that’s about where this photo was taken.