Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: January 23, 2020
Webpage updated: January 23, 2020

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Beacon Reservoir, in the new territory of the Parish of Pennycross taken into Devonport in 1898, was built to supply fresh water to the Keyham and Keyham Barton districts and the Royal Naval Barracks.  It was, and indeed still is, between Bladderley Lane, now Beacon Park Road, and Ham Lane, now Ham Drive, just north of Beaconsfield House.

At the time work started in 1898 some 400 to 500 new houses were being erected in that district and occupied as soon as they were completed. The need for fresh water was urgent.  The new reservoir measured 151 feet in length, 107 feet in breadth and the depth of water was 12 feet.  The reservoir held one million gallons of water.  Because the water will have already passed through the filter plant at Crownhill it was necessary to prevent contamination from leaves and other vegetable matter, so the reservoir was covered in brickwork and concrete.  There were seven brick arches, each 151 feet long, with 14 feet spans, resting on 66 brick piers and the side walls.

The glazed face bricks were manufactured by Messrs Hexter and Humpherson, of Newton Abbot, Devon, while the slate rock at the bottom was covered with a 12 inch layer of concrete upon which was laid Callender's bitumen sheeting and on top of that was Coverack paving 2 inches thick, laid by the Dean Paving Company.  The arches covering the reservoir were of 9 inch brick overlaid with 6 inches of cement concrete and topped with earth, which was to be seeded to grass.  Fourteen ornamental iron ventilators were provided.

Entrance to the reservoir was from Ham Lane, on the northern side, where were also the the wash-out and overflow pipes.  Water entered the Reservoir through a small inlet tank at the eastern end, over which was a shelter-house containing an electric water-level indicator manufactured by Messrs Glenfield and Kennedy, of Kilmarnock, to a patent held by Messrs Burr and McWhiter.  This recorded on a diagram the depth of water in the Reservoir continuously at the Turncock's residence at Rowden's Reservoir, Stoke. The top water level was 272 feet above Ordnance Datum and 87 feet below the filter beds at Crownhill.  The Reservoir was connected by 15-inch pipes to the existing distribution network at Ford.  On that main was fixed a Venturi meter, manufactured by Messrs G Kent, of London, which registered on a diagram the varying flow of water supplied from the Reservoir, as well as the total quantity let through.

Beacon Reservoir was designed by Mr Harry Francis, AMInstCE, and was constructed by the Devonport Waterworks Company.  The resident engineer was Mr B Townshend AMInstCE, whose father was responsible for the Keyham Steam Yard and the storage reservoirs at Crownhill.